DETROIT -- Born and raised in Big Rapids, 150 miles from here, Clint Hurdle grew up as a Tigers fan for whom Tiger Stadium was heaven and Ernie Harwell was the voice emanating from it.
When he carved his own career in baseball, the lines of course got blurred. Still, one of Hurdle's fondest memories remains the day the Colorado manager and his batting coach, Don Baylor, got a private tour of the Ernie Harwell Museum.
"We went to the Detroit Public Library with Ernie, and for two hours he took us into the Ernie Harwell Museum," Hurdle recalled. "Without a script, he walked us through every program and every photo and every card from memory, and then we had a nice lunch.
"That was probably one of the most memorable experiences I've had in the game, with a guy on whose every word I used to hang."
In hindsight, it becomes even more special. That visit was in late May 2009, when the Rockies were in Detroit for an Interleague Series. Three months later, Harwell publicly revealed his diagnosis with incurable bile duct cancer. He passed away on May 4, 2010, less than a year after taking Hurdle on that memorable museum tour.