Notes: Harwell collection released

Notes: Harwell collection released

DETROIT -- Ernie Harwell's biography came out in 2002. Another book on his life after baseball was published a couple of years ago. He donated much of his baseball artifacts for the public to peruse at the Detroit Public Library, and his famous calls are etched in history. But he had never had a career retrospective in the audio format for which he's known best.

Consider Harwell's latest collection his holiday present. And it all started with a radio interview.

A Raleigh, N.C., sportscaster named Gordon Miller talked with Harwell on his Sunday show a few times, and Miller eventually got around to asking about an audiobook. Harwell and his agent had discussed the idea in the past, but they never really pursued it. With Miller's encouragement, they looked into it. What could've simply been an audio memoir, however, ended up growing well beyond that.

The result is "Ernie Harwell's Audio Scrapbook," a dive into the deep archives of Harwell's 60-year broadcasting career. While it qualifies as an audio library, it's more like a four-CD box set highlighting Harwell's illustrious career.

In many ways, it's an audiobiography.

"I enjoyed doing it," Harwell said. "It was strictly off the cuff. It gave me a sense of satisfaction because it was sort of a review on my career, plus it was a look a the history of the game when I was working from 1934 -- when I joined The Sporting News -- all the way up to the present day. If somebody likes baseball, whether he likes me or not, they'll like the interviews."

The collection has many of Harwell's famous game calls, and it's transitioned with interviews of Harwell by Duke University Broadcaster Bob Harris. But Harwell's early interviews with sports figures are arguably the bridge that connects his work. Many of them had been described in Harwell's writing, but rarely heard by current generations.

Some date back to Harwell's early job hosting a sports show on WSB in Atlanta during the 1940s, interviews he had to do live in studio but recorded for later keeping. One is an interview with Connie Mack he had recorded, then lost before the daughter of a longtime friend and listener in Wapakoneta, Ohio, sent him a record of the interview Harwell had actually given him years ago.

Some interviews couldn't be found on recordings, including a well-known talk with Ty Cobb. Many, however, are surprisingly preserved. The Connie Mack interview, he warns, is hard to make out because the record had scratches, but it arguably adds to the historical factor. Another track includes postgame interviews with Bobby Thomson and Ralph Branca right after The Shot Heard Round the World, not to mention Harwell's call of it.

Harwell's favorite interview on the collection is one with Joe DiMaggio in which the Yankee Clipper revealed that a cabbie in Cleveland predicted the night his hitting streak would end.

"He told me something I hadn't read a lot about," Harwell recalled.

Other interviews in the collection include legendary broadcasters Red Barber, Harry Caray, Jack Buck and Russ Hodges, talking about their craft.

The calls from the booth in the collection range from Harwell's first big-league job with the Brooklyn Dodgers to his Baltimore Orioles days, then of course on to Detroit. The final part of the collection features recollections from Harwell in back-and-forth interviews from Harris, discussions that were not rehearsed.

"We didn't have a script," Harwell said. "He had a few questions, but I didn't have anything to go with. We thought it would be better that way. They got about five hours and they had to eliminate some of it."

The four-CD set runs four hours total.

Minor League signings: Add the well-traveled Felix Heredia to the list of candidates for the Tigers' left-handed relief opening. The 10-year, six-team veteran, who pitched for Jim Leyland on the 1997 World Series champion Marlins, was among those signing Minor League contracts with the Tigers as free agents.

The 31-year-old Heredia posted a 6.75 ERA in six games with Triple-A Buffalo this past season before being released in May. He pitched 2 1/3 innings in three games for the Mets in 2005.

Also agreeing to Minor League contracts were left-hander Jason Davis and right-hander Jason Karnuth, both members of the Mud Hens' International League Governors' Cup championship team in 2006, as well as former Nationals outfielder Brandon Watson, longtime Reds catching prospect Dane Sardinha and former Padres reliever Dennis Tankersley.

Banquet circuit: While TigerFest moves to Comerica Park next month, the team's Winter Caravan is shifting as well. This year, the Tigers' annual bus tour of Michigan and northwest Ohio appears set to begin ahead of TigerFest.

The Class A West Michigan Whitecaps' annual winter banquet will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 17, with Leyland as one of the featured speakers. Meanwhile, the Mud Hens' annual Fandemonium will be held on Thursday, Jan. 18, beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET.

At least one Tiger will be making a stop the next week. Curtis Granderson is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the Double-A Erie SeaWolves' Hot Stove Dinner on Wednesday, Jan. 24.

Whitecaps banquet tickets are available now by calling the club at (616) 784-4131. Mud Hens Fandemonium tickets go on sale Wednesday, Jan. 3, at (419) 725-HENS. For more information on the Erie Hot Stove Dinner, contact the SeaWolves at (814) 456-1300.

Jason Beck is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.