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“Opening Day” of Mitch Albom’s “Ernie” Includes Visit from Former Detroit Tigers
Nine former Detroit Tigers will join playwright Mitch Albom and Bill Harwell in Grand Rapids on Wednesday, Sept. 12 for the “Opening Day” of “Ernie,” Albom’s play on the life of Tigers announcer Ernie Harwell.
The 12-performance run of “Ernie,” which will benefit Hospice of Michigan, marks the first time that the smash hit play will travel from Detroit to reach fans in West Michigan on their home field. As part of Opening Day excitement, the Tiger alumni will meet fans and sign autographs at the Amway Grand Plaza from 1-1:45 p.m. Media are welcome at the signing event.
The Tigers will join Albom and playgoers at the 2:30 matinee performance of “Ernie” at Wealthy Theatre. Following the production, Albom will lead an audience talkback to share more about how the play came to be written. The players will then return to the Amway for an additional autograph signing with attendees during a special cocktail hour beginning at 5 p.m. in advance of an Opening Day dinner. A second performance of the play is scheduled for 8 p.m.
Joining Albom will be:
• Howard Bailey, a native of Grand Haven who served as a pitcher for the Tigers from 1981-1983 and is a former Grand Valley State University baseball player.
• Barbaro Garbey, who served as an outfielder, first baseman, third baseman and designated hitter with the Tigers from 1984-85. He was also a member of the Tigers team that defeated the San Diego Padres in the 1984 World Series.
• Rick Leach, a native of Ann Arbor who played with the Tigers as an outfielder and first baseman from 1981-83 after a successful football and baseball career with the University of Michigan.
• Scott Lusader, who served as an outfielder for the Tigers from 1987-90.
• Larry Pashnick, a native of Lincoln Park, Mich., who joined the Tigers as a pitcher from 1982-83.
• Dan Petry, who joined the Tigers as a pitcher from 1979-87 and then again from 1990-91. He was also a member of the 1984 Tigers World Series championship team.
• Pat Sheridan, a native of Ann Arbor who played for the Tigers from 1986-89 as an outfielder. He also hit two home runs for the Royals during their 1985 World Series win.
• Mickey Stanley, who was a centerfielder for the Tigers from 1964-78. He was also a member of the 1968 Tigers World Series championship team and is a four-time Golden Glove winner.
• Thomas Timmermann, who joined the Tigers from 1969-1973 as a pitcher.
Albom wrote “Ernie” as a tribute to the legendary “Voice of Summer,” Ernie Harwell. The play is set on Harwell’s last night at Comerica Park, when the Hall of Fame broadcaster is about to give a moving “thank you” to a grateful city. Just before he walks onto the grassy field, he encounters an unusual boy who is eager to know all about him, coaxing Harwell into giving one final broadcast – the “broadcast of his life.”
The play’s West Michigan engagement will benefit Hospice of Michigan's Open Access Program, which provides care to those who need help, regardless of age, diagnosis or ability to pay. Each year, HOM provides end-of-life care for more than 200 West Michigan residents each day.
Blue Care Network of Michigan is the presenting sponsor for “Ernie.” Meijer and CareLinc Home Medical Equipment and Supply will also serve as “Hall of Fame” sponsors. Media partners for the event include Cumulus Media, MLive and WOOD TV8.
Tickets for “Opening Day” are $250 and are available by calling 616.356.5266. Tickets for all other performances are $30 and available by calling TicketMaster at 800.745.3000 or visiting www.ticketmaster.com and www.hom.org.
In addition to shows at 2:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Sept. 12, performances will be held at 7 p.m. on Sept. 13-15 and Sept. 19-22. Matinees at 2:30 p.m. will be held on Sept. 16, 22 and 23.
For more information about tickets, click here. For more information about the play, visit http://mitchalbom.com/
About Hospice of Michigan
A nationally recognized leader in end-of-life care, Hospice of Michigan is the original – and largest – hospice in the state of Michigan. The non-profit organization cares for more than 1,000 patients each day in 56 counties, raising more than $4 million each year to cover the cost of care for the uninsured and underinsured. HOM offers innovative programs to enhance the quality of care for people at the end of life, education programs for physicians and healthcare professionals, caregiver education materials, cultural diversity programs for end-of-life care, and research and education programs at the Maggie Allesee Center for Quality of Life. For more information, call Hospice of Michigan’s CARE Center 24/7 at 888.247.5701 or go to www.hom.org.