In case you've forgotten, today is Christmas Day, and if you want to feel all fuzzy about good deeds and peace on earth, just read the Detroit Free Press. No, for real. Ernie Harwell will make your day.
You see, the longtime Tigers announcer was diagnosed with cancer in September, and doctors gave him just a few months to live. We all know the effect the local sportscaster can have on a community, a reminder we've received, unfortunately, too often this year. In Detroit, though, the locals honored Harwell before they couldn't. They sent him cards and letters and personal notes — about 10,000 of 'em. And in turn, Harwell expressed his gratitude in the most public forum he knew in the baseball offseason: in a column on the front page of the local newspaper.
Harwell's Christmas card is, joyfully, more than just a cheesy photo. It's funny, and it's kind, and it's compassionate, and it's the type of thing that might just satisfy Scrooge:
However, my friends at the Free Press are allowing me use of this space to thank all of you who have reached out to me and my family since the announcement of my illness. I can't answer 10,000 cards and letters with a personal note, so I have to do it the easy way.
Robert Browning was a great poet but didn't know much about baseball. He once wrote, "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?" That's a great outlook on life, but I'm sure Jim Leyland would rather see his outfielder catch and hold onto a fly ball than have his reach exceed his grasp.
Anyway, you folks have reached out to me in so many ways. Your encouraging words, your prayers and your gifts have touched my heart. You've certainly discovered "what's a heaven for."
Harwell closes his note by thanking the Free Press for giving him the forum to send thanks to everyone in Detroit, his extended Christmas card list. They're all going to owe him another note for reminding them what Christmas spirit really means.
Ernie Harwell's Christmas card to all Detroit [Free Press]