Feliciano, Carey to be part of Harwell tribute Monday
Jose Feliciano became a national headline after Ernie Harwell invited him to perform the national anthem at Tiger Stadium during the 1968 World Series. Paul Carey became Harwell’s partner in the broadcast booth for nearly two decades, their two voices forever linked.
Both remained near and dear to Harwell for the rest of his life. Both will be on hand at Comerica Park to celebrate his life Monday night.
Tigers officials confirmed that both will be part of their tribute to Harwell, the Hall of Fame broadcaster who passed away Tuesday at age 92. The presentation will take place prior to the 7:05 p.m. ET game against the Yankees.
In honor of Harwell, Feliciano will return to Detroit to perform the anthem. It was his slower, nontraditional interpretation of the Star Spangled Banner before Game 5 of the Fall Classic that generated controversy among veterans who called in to complain. It marked one of the first times that someone performed a different interpretation of the anthem at a sporting event.
Harwell was in charge of choosing performers for that series, and he later said he liked it. He was proven right, as Feliciano’s version of the anthem actually hit the Billboard singles charts once Feliciano released it. The two remained friends for the next four decades, and Harwell defended the performance for the rest of his life.
The 82-year-old Carey will return to the Tigers to take the mound for the ceremonial first pitch. Born in Mt. Plesant, Mich., Carey joined Harwell to share play-by-play duties on Tigers radio broadcasts in 1973. The two remained broadcast parnters until after the 1991 season.
Aside from the guest appearances, the Tigers plan to have a touching ceremony to honor their broadcaster of 42 seasons in what will undoubtedly be an emotional night. The patches with Harwell’s initials that adorned the Tigers’ road jerseys Wednesday will be on the home uniforms for the rest of the season. Much like George Kell last year, a flag bearing his initials will be raised in left-center field by former Tigers greats.
A video tribute will honor Harwell’s life and career, including his speech to fans last September. Fans in attendance Monday will receive a keepsake commemorating the evening.