Forty-five years after Herb Carneal began broadcasting Minnesota Twins games, hundreds gathered Thursday at Colonial Church in Edina to celebrate his life and remember a Hall of Fame announcer who spent much of his life doing what he loved.
"I don't think anybody enjoyed his job more than Herb did ... loved it anymore and did it any better," said legendary baseball broadcaster Ernie Harwell, who worked with Carneal calling Baltimore Orioles games in the late 1950s before spending decades as the voice of the Detroit Tigers. "He was a great partner and he was a great friend."
Harwell, 89, was one of four people who shared their memories of Carneal, who died Sunday of congestive heart failure at age 83.
Many baseball luminaries from the field and from the broadcasting booth came to honor Carneal.
John Gordon and Frank Quilici, who worked with Carneal on Twins radio broadcasts, and former Twins pitcher and current television analyst Bert Blyleven also spoke before a crowd that included friends and family members, as well as fans who simply wanted to say goodbye.
Audio clips of some of Carneal's radio calls were played before the service.
Blyleven said he referred to Carneal as "Pops."I first met Herb and [his late wife] Kathy in 1970, my rookie season," Blyleven said as Carneal's daughter, Terri, and grandson, Matthew, looked on.
Blyleven said that because he was only 19 then, Car- neal "seemed like more of a parent to me than a friend. I could see the kindness in both of their hearts and the love and respect they had for each other."
Blyleven went on to say that listening to Carneal broadcast a game was "like you were actually there sitting behind home plate" and that Car-neal's "baseball mind was like a sponge."
Carneal joined the Twins broadcast crew in 1962, the season after the team moved from Washington, D.C., to Minnesota. He continued to work games, although on a limited basis, through last season, and had been scheduled to be in the booth for 36 home games this year.
Current and former Twins executives and former players filled a section of the church, including Hall of Famers Harmon Killebrew and Paul Molitor, team owner Carl Pohlad and manager Ron Gardenhire.
WCCO Radio, which employed Carneal for much of his tenure in Minnesota but lost the Twins' rights beginning with this season, also had several executives and employees on hand.
'We're going to miss him'
Tim Laudner, a catcher for the Twins from 1981 to '89, called Carneal, "a truly wonderful man and a huge part of the Twins organization. I know he broadcast every game that I was ever in, and friends and family told me he always had nice things to say. I appreciate that. ... We're going to miss him."
Harwell, who came from Michigan for the service, echoed those thoughts.
"We make pictures as we go through life. Then we're gone and the pictures remain," he said. "The picture that I have of Herb Carneal is a composite picture of a dedicated worker, a true friend and a devoted family man.
"He left us a real legacy that we will always remember."
A Twins official said Carneal would be cremated and interred in his hometown of Richmond, Va., with his wife, Kathy.
Judd Zulgad 612-673-7966 firstname.lastname@example.org