On Monday night at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial, a fundraiser for the Patriot Scholarship Fund was held that featured, as advertised, a discussion of the ’84 Tiger championship season by none other than Alan Trammell and Kirk Gibson. The Scholarship Fund was created through the leadership of Gary Spicer, Ernie Harwell’s long time attorney.
After Gibson and Trammell were introduced, each spoke briefly, and included their memories and thoughts of Ernie Harwell who this past July was diagnosed with inoperable cancer.
When Trammell mentioned how much he appreciated Harwell and his great voice, to the shock of everyone, Ernie came bounding down the center aisle with microphone in hand as the stunned out crowd arose as one in giving the beloved former broadcaster a rousing ovation that seemed to have lasted ten minutes.
With a grin on his face Harwell said, “In July I never thought I would be here, but I just didn’t want these fellows to say something behind my back.”
You would never know that this beloved man was facing death, as his sense of humor, and apparent energy remained intact.
As he acknowledged his wife Lulu who sat in the crowd, Harwell quipped, “We’ve been married 68 years and our secret is that we never go to bed angry — we just stay up all night fighting.”
As you can imagine, the crowd roared.
Ernie then proceeded to moderate the discussion with Gibson and Trammell while peppering them with questions about the ’84 season and their careers. For a moment I thought he was going to give each a pair of Florsheim shoes from Sibley’s.
It is absolutely amazing how Harwell continues to hold his head high and continues to live his life to the fullest, especially with what he is now facing.
I could write pages on some of the gems that Trammell and Gibson shared Monday night, but the following quote from Gibson is my favorite:
“Baseball is such a mental game. It is important to have the proper people around you to have you mentally prepared because you are going to experience a lot of failures but you can’t get down on yourself, you have to look at yourself in a positive fashion . . . The glass is either half full or half empty and you control that by the way you talk to yourself.
“If you strike out with the bases loaded to end the inning you can walk back to the dugout and beat yourself up and tell yourself how you stink, or you can say, that’s not like me, I normally perform best in those situations, and then you visualize how you succeeded in that situation. The next time you come to the plate, based upon the choice you make will determine whether you will be successful or not. If you think in a positive fashion then you have a chance to be successful.”
Thanks Gary Spicer, Ernie Harwell, Alan Trammell, and Kirk Gibson for a wonderful and memorable evening.