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Tigers legend Ernie Harwell says he has incurable cancer

Big League Stew

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This is not news you want to wake up to.

Legendary Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell told the Detroit Free Press on Thursday night that he has a tumor on his bile duct and that it is incurable.

The 91-year-old broadcaster, who spent 42 years as the voice of the Tigers before retiring in 2002, learned the news after spending a week in the hospital last month. He and his family have decided against any surgery or treatment.

From the Free Press:

"We don't know how long this lasts," Harwell said in a phone interview. "It could be a year, it could be much less than a year, much less than a half a year. Who knows?

"Whatever's in store, I'm ready for a new adventure. That's the way I look at it."

The good news is that no matter how long the odds, Harwell is sure to tackle this raw deal head on. He's remained extremely active since switching off his microphone, publishing three books, penning fantastic columns for the Free Press that are often widely discussed and working as a health and fitness advocate. Look up growing old with grace and you'll find a picture of Ernie.

Still, this is tough news to take, especially when you consider all the other voices — Harry Kalas, Herb Score, Skip Caray — that we've lost recently. No one can live forever, but the enduring and comforting presence that baseball broadcasters have in our lives can make us forget that.

Obviously, our best Big League Stew wishes go out to Ernie. We'll all be thinking of him.

UPDATE: BLS contributor Curtis Granderson adds his thoughts below:

"Ernie is as much of the face of the Detroit Tigers as Al Kaline or Ty Cobb. I had a chance to be at an event with him a couple of years ago, and there couldn't have been a nicer man. He is the kind of guy you could sit around for hours and not have to say a word. His stories would keep you listening for days.

"Someone in his position could have all the ego in the world, and no one would say a word at his age. But he doesn't. He has continued to treat everyone he comes across with class and respect. My thoughts at prayers go out to Ernie and his family."

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