NEW YORK -- Former Orioles broadcaster and legendary Tigers voice Ernie Harwell died on Tuesday after a months-long battle with inoperable cancer of the bile duct. He was 92.
Harwell was one of the Orioles' inaugural voices, serving as a broadcaster from 1954-59. Current O's announcer Gary Thorne remembered Harwell's kindness to him when he was first starting out in the broadcasting realm.
"I always came to him with questions, he never said no," Thorne recalled during the Orioles-Yankees game Tuesday night. "[Harwell] just loved the game so much, he couldn't be around baseball enough because he cared so much about the game, the players and the fans.
"Ernie always broadcast for the fans. And his idea was make the game as entertaining and as accurate as you can be. If you've done that, you've done your job as a broadcaster. And that's exactly what he did."
Harwell was the voice of the Orioles for their first six years after the franchise came to Baltimore from St. Louis in 1954. Beloved by generations of fans during his 55-year career, Harwell spent 42 seasons broadcasting with the Detroit Tigers. He was their play-by-play radio voice from 1960-91 and 1993-2002.
"I always said if there was ever a rocking-chair broadcaster, it was Ernie Harwell," Thorne said. "You could sit there for 20 innings and listen, and never got tired of what he did on the air."
Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig issued a statement expressing his condolences and reflected on Harwell's impact on the game.
"All of Major League Baseball is in mourning tonight upon learning of the loss of a giant of our game, Ernie Harwell," Tuesday's statement said. "This son of Georgia was the voice of the Detroit Tigers and one of the game's iconic announcers to fans across America, always representing the best of our national pastime to his generations of listeners.
"Without question, Ernie was one of the finest and most distinguished gentlemen I have ever met. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest sympathy to Ernie's beloved wife Lulu, his four children, his friends and his countless admirers throughout our game."