- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 5, 2002

Noble: Ernie Harwell, who just retired as the voice of the Detroit Tigers baseball team.

True Detroit Tigers fans habitually brought their radios to the games. It wasn't that their eyes couldn't follow the action on the field it was simply that they wanted their ears to follow it through the genteel Georgia tones of a legend, the voice of Ernie Harwell.

Now 84, Mr. Harwell broadcasted games for 55 years, 42 of them for the Tigers. He began in the business in 1943 for the minor league Atlanta Crackers, and then got his call into the big leagues from the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1948. The Crackers got a catcher in return, making Mr. Harwell the only broadcaster to ever be a part of a baseball trade. After broadcasting in both New York and Baltimore, he arrived in Detroit in 1960. In 1981, he became the first active broadcaster to be introduced into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Unfailingly polite, he continues to listen to, and critique, the tapes sent in by young broadcasters anxious to imitate his understated style. Mr. Harwell receives more fan mail than the rest of the Tigers combined. His fans will miss his genuine love of the game. But most of all, they'll miss his trademark calls, including his "loooooong gone!" on a home run. When he left the broadcast booth (though he still plans to contribute to Fox Sports), it was with a simple farewell: "Thank you very much, and God bless you."

Knaves: The D.C. Council, for its appalling hypocrisy on parking privileges.

D.C. residents normally have a high tolerance for the monumental hassles that come with living in the nation's capital the traffic-stopping motorcades, the street closures and, yes, even the pervasive parking problems. Delays, detours and tickets on the dashboard are almost accepted as a badge of honor. So the council's plan to increase parking fines wouldn't have raised too many eyebrows, but for the fact that council members exempted themselves.

Not that the council actually had the courage to vote, or even to hold a public hearing. Instead, the matter was proposed on March 18 and deemed approved on July 13, when the council passed its budget support act. Thanks to that rather less-than-taxing process, fines for minor parking violations have gone up by a third.

At least council members had the courtesy to take an on-the-record vote giving themselves permission to park with impunity. Only Sharon Ambrose, Kathy Patterson and Phil Mendelson voted against the measure, which gives council members Caesarean, er, Congress-esque exemptions. This means that the 170 or so new ticketwriters who have joined the city payroll this year will have to look a little harder to find victims. Council members claim that traffic is the motive, but the budget proposal estimated that the increased fines could earn the city more than $8.5 million.

Council member Adrian Fenty refused to posture. "This is solely for revenue," he said. "Anybody who doesn't admit that isn't being fully up front with you."

Still, even an honest knave is a far cry from the fair calls of the noble Ernie Harwell.

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