In a fitting tribute to a broadcasting legend, Wayne State University has dedicated Harwell Field in honor of late Detroit Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell.
On Tuesday, the university opened Harwell Field, a $2.3 million, privately-funded project. The endeavor allowed Wayne State to overhaul its baseball venue to include some elaborate tributes to Harwell. Inside the facility, attendees will find exhibits relating to Harwell’s career–including a main wall that highlights five of his signature calls–while stone emblems featuring his initials are incorporated along the exterior wall.
In addition, the outside of the space was designed in a way to resemble Ebbets Field. While Harwell was best known for his decades with the Tigers, he began his major league broadcasting career with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1948, which is why Wayne State has chosen to honor Ebbets Field in the design of Harwell Field.
The ceremony on Tuesday featured several Tigers legends, who felt that it was important to honor the legacy of Harwell. More from The Detroit Free Press:
“Generations will be able to come down here and see and remember Ernie Harwell,” [Alan] Trammell said. “Obviously, as we get older, there’s going to be part of a generation that doesn’t know really who he is. Well, they’ll never forget him. I don’t care what age you are, when you hear that voice, it’s going to be a smile to your face.”
Kirk Gibson, who grew up in Waterford, told a crowd gathered outside the entrance to Harwell Field this afternoon how he used to go the Dairy Queen with his father and would listen to Harwell calling Tigers games.
Gibson said part of the reason he attended the grand opening was because Harwell treated him “better than I deserved” when he played for the Tigers.
“When I was young and brash, I was brought up a football player where you’re supposed to be aggressive and dominate people,” Gibson said. “Then when you walk out on the street you’re supposed to be a nice person.”
Gibson acknowledged it took him a while to switch off his aggressive nature off the field and said Harwell didn’t pass judgment on him when he was younger.
Wayne State had been planning the tribute to Harwell, who passed away in 2010, for several years. The university first announced plans for Harwell Field in 2013, and broke ground on the facility last August.
Image courtesy Wayne State athletics.