Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Ernie Harwell Loooong From Being Gone

Retired baseball announcer Ernie Harwell turns 90 on Friday. We know what that means: His friends will take him out Friday night to celebrate. Ninety shots of alcohol - one for each year successfully lived through - seems like a lot to us, especially since it can kill you. But Harwell says he doesn't drink at all.

"I don't drink alcohol because I don't like it that much and I don't want to expend all my calories on it. It's sort of an empty kind of thing as far as nutrition is concerned.
So how does he plan to begin his birthday celebration on Friday? The same way he starts every day. Exercising.
First, he will do 50 whirling dervishes -- a stretching maneuver in which he fully extends his arms and alternately turns his upper body to the left and right as fast as he can. Then he will do about 25 lunges and 25 deep squats. Then he will jump rope for about 300 repetitions. "Or maybe about 30 more, to figure I counted wrong -- for good measure, as they say," Ernie says.

Then he will get on his back and pull his knees to his chest, then do about 50 sit-ups, then stretch his back. After that, he will do deep breathing and -- still on his back -- pull his knees to his chin several times. This won't be a onetime demonstration of feisty fitness, meant to show himself just what he can do on his 90th birthday. He does this series of exercises to start every day
Whew. We're exhausted from just thinking about that exercise regimen. Jack LaLanne would be proud.

Harwell's announcing career goes as far back as Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and Connie Mack. He even remembers how cold the 1935 World Series was. Today he's active in historic preservation efforts of Tiger Stadium as well as a spokesman for Blue Cross Blue Shield.

What's it like to be around Ernie Harwell as he turns 90?
It's a little like being that photographer who expressed a wish to Winston Churchill when the former British prime minister celebrated his 75th birthday. "I hope, sir," the photographer said, "that I will shoot your picture on your 100th birthday."

"I don't see why not, young man," Churchill replied. "You look reasonably fit and healthy."
As was noted when he retired in 2002, Harwell missed two games in his entire 55-year career, neither of which due to illness. Leave your birthday wishes for Harwell here.

[Detroit Free Press]

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