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The Tigers have had great radio and television voices over the years, going back as far as Ty Tyson, the original voice of the Tigers, who called games for WWJ from 1927-42. Ernie Harwell, the voice of summer, the voice of the Detroit Tigers for 42 seasons.

He began each season with that quote from , for the last time in 2002, at the age of 84. Theatre is by nature collaborative, but Harwell was an old-school broadcaster, calling his innings solo, without a color commentator.

Since my senior year of high school, I had gone to maybe 40 concerts—everything from Cheap Trick to second-wave emo bands to local power pop acts. A genuinely great band, playing for free at a beautiful outdoor venue! (It’s a good DVD, by the way.) And thus began a virtually endless parade of reasons I decided not to go to concerts.

“Can’t find any friends who are free, I really hate that one venue, I’m tired, Pittsburgh seems one obnoxious drunk who will ruin the fun.” There’s some truth behind this laundry list of complaints.

She calls her spare bedroom “the Tiger room.” It’s filled with baseball memorabilia.

She’s a lifelong theatregoer too, and as I sat with her, surprised by her response, I realized that telling the story onstage was right.*** The play is set in the tunnel of Comerica Park, the Detroit Tigers home field. Three screens act as a backdrop, and they are put to good use throughout the course of the show, allowing the audience to see pictures and footage of some of the stories mentioned during the play. But the question lingers–beyond the fact that Harwell liked the idea, why a play?It is the evening of September 16, 2009: the night that Harwell, diagnosed with terminal cancer, said his last goodbye to the fans. The answer is hinted at as the show continues, and becomes clear as Ernie tells of a moment from the 1984 World Series: Kirk Gibson’s at-bat versus Goose Gossage in Game 5. This is the right time in the game for an intentional walk, but Gossage thinks he can get Gibson out, can strike him out, because of their history. Are people shaking their fingers, mouthing the words?The character Ernie is struggling with the idea of going before the crowd; he feels that all the attention is too much. At this point, the show seems purely biography dressed in the theatre’s clothes. His is quite a tale, beginning in Georgia as a writer, becoming a broadcaster in Atlanta, being traded to New York, bearing witness to the rise of Jackie Robinson as the Dodgers broadcaster, then moving across town to the Giants, joining the military and spared heavy combat in World War 2, marriage, children, finding faith, trying his hand at television and other sports before coming to the Tigers, the stories woven together with light stage business between Ernie and Boy. We watch the video moments unfold – the conference on the mound beween Gossage and his manager, the cut away to Tiger’s manager Sparky Anderson in the dugout hollering at Gibson, “he don’t wanna walk you.” Ernie and the kid repeat it, “he don’t wanna walk you… I don’t know, because my aunt can no longer contain herself. It’s a long drive to right, the call begins, and we are stirred, thrilled at the sight of Gibson’s arms in the air as he rounds first.During a rain delay, a young man, called Boy, appears. She tells me she watched this same footage of the game in Cooperstown, on a huge screen, amazing, she says, her eyes lit by the memory as much as by the stage. The Thursday night crowd in the theatre is on the verge of erupting.But I don’t know if I buy that concerts are really than listening to recorded music, especially when faced with the “experience versus material” argument.

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