August 26, 2002 at 10:59 PM EST - Updated July 3 at 3:36 PM
By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) - Ernie Harwell's Hall of Fame broadcasting career with the Detroit Tigers could end right where it began in 1960.
The 84-year-old Harwell will retire at the end of this season, and if a player's strike -- scheduled for Aug. 30 -- wipes out the remainder of the season, his final game could be Wednesday night at Jacobs Field.
The Indians and Tigers will conclude their three-game series Wednesday, and are both off on Thursday.
Harwell isn't worried about the possibility of his 55th season in the radio booth coming to early end.
"I'm not going to say that's it," Harwell said before Monday's game. "If it is, so be it. But I'm going to call Wednesday's game just as game number so-and-so, and go from there. It would be a little embarrassing to give a farewell speech and then come back a week later."
Harwell, who began his radio career in 1940, has been doing play-by-play of major league games since 1948.
He worked in New York for the Dodgers and Giants, and in Baltimore before joining the Tigers in 1960. His first game was a Detroit-Cleveland matchup at Municipal Stadium.
"Right after the Harvey Kuenn for Rocky Colavito trade," said Harwell, referring to one of the most famous trades in Indians history. "Those two guys met each other on opening day. It was bitter cold, and we went 14 innings. I remember the Tigers won. For some reason, they didn't have us in the radio booth and we had to sit out in the stands and call the game."
Before Monday's game, Harwell spoke to reporters in the Tigers' dugout and then went to the Indians clubhouse -- a circuit he has followed almost religiously during his entire career.
"He would always walk up and talk to us," said Indians interim manager Joel Skinner, a former big league catcher. "I remember hearing him when we were on the field in Detroit's old ballpark. He was right there, right above you calling the game."
As he rounds third in his farewell season, Harwell has been warmly received throughout baseball.
"It's been overwhelming, heartwarming and humbling," he said. "I made the decision because I want to go out too early rather than too late."
BRADLEY UPDATE: CF Milton Bradley may be only days away from returning to the Indians.
Bradley, who has been out since undergoing an appendectomy on Aug. 14, took batting practice and shagged flies in the outfield on Monday. As long as he doesn't have any setbacks, Bradley will begin a rehab assignment on Tuesday at Double-A Akron.
Interim manager Joel Skinner said the plan is for Bradley to play five innings in the outfield on Tuesday and then seven on Wednesday. He'll DH on Thursday when the Indians are off.
Bradley is eligible to come off the disabled list on Friday.
"We'll see how he feels after the first three games and make a call," Skinner said.
Bradley has been on the DL twice this season. In May, he broke the orbital bone in his left eye when he was hit by a ball that ricocheted off the outfield wall.
BASELINES: Skinner said Victor Martinez, now at Double-A Akron, will be considered for a September call up. The switch-hitting Martinez leads the Eastern League with a .343 average. He's tied for second with homers (21) and is fifth in RBIs (84). ... Jim Thome entered Tuesday's game with 92 walks this season. With eight more walks, Thome will have walked 100 times in four straight seasons and six times in seven years. He needs 36 walks in the Indians' final 33 games to break his single-season club record (127) set in 1999.
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)