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“ERNIE” – WRITTEN BY AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR MITCH ALBOM –
PAYS TRIBUTE TO
DETROIT’S ERNIE HARWELL
“Looong gone”, but never forgotten.
“Ernie,” Mitch Albom’s much-anticipated new play dedicated to Ernie Harwell, made its world premiere April 2011 at the City Theatre in Detroit, one block from Comerica Park and just in time for fans to visit with the “Voice of Summer” once again.
“Ernie” is set on Ernie Harwell’s last night at Comerica, when the Hall of Fame broadcaster is about to give a moving thank you to a grateful city. Just before he walks onto the grassy field, he encounters an unusual boy who is eager to know all about him, coaxing Harwell into giving one final broadcast – the “broadcast of his life.”
In real life, Harwell and Albom spoke often about doing a stage play one day. According to Harwell’s longtime friend and attorney, S. Gary Spicer, Ernie “had always hoped Mitch would author it”. Having called Harwell a friend for 25 years, Albom, the hugely successful playwright behind “Tuesdays With Morrie”, was willing to collaborate, but in 2009 Harwell’s health faded and the project had to be shelved.
After Ernie’s passing, Albom picked up the pen again, and the result reached audiences on Thursday, April 28th, 2011. A second season opened in May of 2012, and the third begins June 6, 2013. It has become the highest-attended show int he history of the Ciry Theatre, with more than 35,000 patrons.
“Ernie’s story transcends sports,” Albom says. “It’s a story of 20th century Americana and a love affair with baseball and a childhood sweetheart. Ernie went through the Depression, World War II, the segregation of sports –he also called some of the grandest moments ever witnessed on a ball field. It’s an honor to bring such a rich character to the stage – especially for so many fans who loved him.”
The play features actual footage from historic baseball moments, supplied courtesy of Major League Baseball, and boasts many unmistakable Harwell calls. Tiger fans will get a glimpse of the time that Ernie met the Great Bambino and Ty Cobb. They’ll witness how he “recreated” games in his early days, and what was behind his broadcasts of the Tigers’ 1968 and 1984 World Series.
One of Detroit’s true theatre gems, the City Theatre is located inside the Hockeytown Café building, next door to the fabulous Fox Theatre and across the street from Comerica Park. This intimate venue has the unique atmosphere of an off-Broadway style space where theatergoers can truly enjoy a visit with Ernie Harwell.
In addition, a portion of the proceeds from “Ernie” merchandise will go to the Ernie Harwell Foundation.
Ernie - The Play - Coverage
Fox 2 - Detroit - Ernie Coverage
February 17, 2011