LAKELAND, Fla. (WXYZ) — Dan Dickerson had big shoes to fill. Ernie Harwell left some of the biggest shoes to fill in broadcasting history.
Dickerson said he wanted to do play-by-play and was hooked right away, but he had no idea what the road was going to be to the booth.
"Sure enough, because I didn't have a grand plan, it was 20 years of zigging and zagging through news and sports and sidelines to the booth in 2000," he said.
As the play-by-play voice of the Detroit Tigers radio broadcasts approaches his 20th full-time season, he reflected on his journey and how one conversation with Harwell serves as his constant guiding light.
Dickerson joined the broadcast team in 2000. For three seasons, he worked calling three innings per game to give Harwell a break.
"Those three years with Ernie Harwell set this whole thing up. To watch how he worked, how he stayed fresh and sounded just as good in that last game in Toronto as all those other years growing up, you understood, he just loved the game," Dickerson said.
It was a conversation in Lakeland at Tigertown that led to Dickerson feeling comfortable in his own skin.
"My guiding light, every game, is what he told me on the back fields my first year in Lakeland. I had never called a baseball game professionally, I'm about to do 162, I'm explaining this, and he goes 'Just remember, get what's in front of you right.'" Dickerson said.
In his time with the Tigers, Dickerson has seen some of the highest of highs – World Series games, record-breaking games, and more – and the lowest of lows, like the Tigers 119-loss season in 2003.
"This job is truly the best job I've ever had. Even in the bad years, I've never had a bad day at the ballpark," Dickerson said. "People say, 'Come on, what about the 43-win season?' OK, I still like going to the ballpark."
In the video player above, watch Dickerson speak one-on-one with 7 Sports Director Brad Galli during the Tigers' spring training in Lakeland, Florida.