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Fryman reflects on Harwell
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08/27/2002 9:19 pm ET 
Fryman reflects on Harwell
By Justice B. Hill / MLB.com

Travis Fryman spent eight seasons with the Detroit Tigers. (Mark Duncan/AP)
CLEVELAND -- Travis Fryman doesn’t look forward to seeing Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell retire.

Fryman thinks Harwell’s golden voice still resonates in baseball circles, but it isn’t Harwell’s voice that makes Fryman hope he hangs around the game longer. It’s Harwell himself.

“People like Ernie, to me, are what makes baseball so special,” said Fryman, who broke into big leagues with the Tigers in 1990. “You meet people like him, and you get the opportunity to know people like him -- whether it’s a Jimmy Warfield, the Ernie Harwells -- they’re people in the game that are so unique.

“They have qualities about them that sets them apart from most people you meet. You feel better for being in their company.”

Fryman got to see those qualities firsthand when he played for the Tigers to start his career, and he will see Harwell wind down his career this week at Jacobs Field.

    Travis Fryman   /   3B
Height: 6'1"
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Bats/Throws: R/R

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After the Tribe’s 8-5 loss Tuesday night, Harwell will broadcast one more game from The Jake, where the Indians will honor his farewell with a ceremony Wednesday. He’ll be putting away 300-plus games’ worth of broadcast memories from the shores of Lake Erie.

But the 84-year-old Harwell, who has spent a half century in the broadcast booth, will also be saying goodbye to men who cherish having had him come into their lives. To them, Harwell was more than the rich voice of Tigers baseball.

“Ernie was one of those guys who would always find you and say hello,” Indians manager Joel Skinner said.

Fryman echoed Skinner’s statement on this.

As Fryman put it, Harwell’s personality, his drive, his love of the game and his sincerity left so many players with memories to take with them into their later years.

Fryman certainly has his memories of Harwell, memories that go back to Fryman’s first game in big leagues.

“The next day -- or a couple days after that -- Ernie brought me an audiocassette of his broadcast of that moment,” Fryman said. “I have that tape.

“I haven’t collected a lot of things through the years, but that’s one thing I’ve held onto.”

In Fryman’s mind, Harwell’s gesture to a then rookie told Fryman all he needed to know about Harwell the man, and Fryman’s first impressions of the Hall-of-Fame broadcaster have only changed for the better in the years since then.

As he sat in the clubhouse this day, Harwell did what he had done the first day the two men met: He shook Fryman’s hand.

Nothing about that last meeting surprised Fryman, for he had grown comfortable with such gestures of kindness from Harwell. The audiocassette is tangible evidence.

“I’ve not listened to it,” Fryman said. “I’ll probably listen to it whenever the day comes when I’m not in the game anymore. But I have that in a special place. I look forward to listening to it.”

He’s not looking forward, though, to Harwell’s retirement.

Justice B. Hill, a senior writer, covers the Indians for MLB.com. He can be reached at jbernardh@aol.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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