Two Greats Gone Too Soon

We all have come across people in our lives that seem to have that unique inner-peace that we would like to have inside ourselves.  Maybe you are one of the blessed that does.  I am working on it and I would love to learn your secret; please contact me at!

There are many levels and many ways to attain that serenity, and it’s difficult to define or put your finger on it, but you know it when you see it.

In the past couple years, here in Winston-Salem, it seems I have run across a larger number of these people than in the past, probably because I have been looking for them more. Age will do that to you.  God, good fortune, luck, coincidence, Higher Power, call it what you will (and I know what I call it)  has put these people, whom I fondly call an “A-Team Support Group”,  into my life for whatever reason.

There are, of course, thousands that claim they do have the secret, and they are more than willing to share it in their book, DVD or program available for $19.95 per copy, per month, per session, whatever it may be.  Not all charlatans certainly, but buyer beware, there are a few.

Many different paths are taken to find that sense of well-being, and that leads to an entirely different discussion. A number will tell you theirs’ is the only path. It is a centuries old debate of methodology that has led to wars of many different kinds, and will not be started here today, thank you very much!

All this came rushing in because Ernie Banks died last Friday and a few people, privately and on the radio, asked if I knew him.  As a former Chicago Cub player it was hard not to, because whenever you put on a Cubs jersey or talked about them, Ernie’s presence was there.

He also usually was physically there and how he managed all the appearances and events and opportunities to represent baseball and the Cubs was beyond belief.  Maybe it had something to do with the “Let’s play two” mentality behind a kids game that kept him young and energetic; maybe it had something to do with that inner peace.  Believe me when I tell you not many could keep up the pace period, but he did it gracefully with a smile on his face at even the most trying times.

Sound like someone in your life?

It also reminded me as spring and baseball are coming of another peaceful soul, Ernie Harwell.  Ernie was a Hall-of-Fame broadcaster, legend, friend, mentor and person beyond belief.  The only announcer ever traded for a player when he went from the Atlanta Crackers to the Brooklyn Dodgers, Ernie was unanimously loved in the baseball world.  After I was offered the Detroit Tigers radio broadcasting job, a club official slipped word to me that Ernie had called to recommend me.  Do you know many that would call, unsolicited, on their own, to endorse you for a job they had been fired from two years earlier?

Ernie passed away in 2010, but is spoken of with reverence in Detroit the way the other Ernie is in Chicago.  If you get the chance and want to warm up a bit as we head toward spring, look up Ernie Harwell reciting from Song of Solomon 2:11-12 when Spring Training started every year.  Or, even better, look on YouTube and watch him recite “That’s Baseball” which he wrote and closed his Hall of Fame induction speech with.  But you must listen to it and him, not just read it.  I probably watched him do it in various venues 25 times; cried 25 times.

These were two people who for whatever reason had a gift.  They brought peace and harmony to a tumultuous world. They had a presence about them that brought out the best in you.  When you walked away after a few minutes with them, you felt better about yourself than you had a few minutes earlier.  And you didn’t know how they did it!

Two Ernies, two kindred souls, two shining examples of what we would all like to be, or should at least strive to be.  However we find the path, I sure would like to be there to hear Ernie one more time call one of Ernie’s towering home run blasts with his legendary “that one is loooong gone” signature calls. And there’s only one place I can think of where that is happening.

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