Skip to main content

Former NFL broadcaster Merle Harmon passes away at 82

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Broadcaster Merle Harmon, who in a career spanning more than 40 years called professional and college sports for NBC and ABC, died Wednesday after a long illness.

Harmon died at Arlington Memorial Hospital. He was 82.

The broadcaster's son, Keith Harmon, who works with the Milwaukee Brewers radio network, told The Associated Press that his father had been hospitalized for a couple of weeks and died from complications stemming from pneumonia.

"As good a broadcaster as he was, he was just a greater man," Keith Harmon said.

The Texas Rangers had a moment of silence before their Wednesday night game in memory of Merle Harmon, who was a broadcaster for the team from 1982 to 1989. He then retired from broadcasting and settled in Arlington.

The Minnesota Twins also had a moment of silence for Harmon, who called their games from 1967 to 1969.

Harmon, whose broadcasting career began with the minor league Topeka Owls in 1949, called the major league baseball game of the week and college football for ABC Sports in the 1960s, and later did NFL, baseball and college basketball for NBC.

Harmon was a broadcaster for the Milwaukee Brewers from 1970 to 1979, and also worked for the Kansas City Athletics in baseball and the Kansas City Chiefs and New York Jets in the NFL.

"Merle was a great friend and a wonderful partner in the booth, and the memories he leaves us with will be cherished forever," said Brewers broadcaster Bob Uecker, who was Harmon's partner in the 1970s. "His dedication to family and broadcasting were second to none, and I will always be grateful for the latitude and direction he gave to me as I was entering the profession. ... This is a very sad day for all of us."

Harmon and his wife, Jenny, were married more than 50 years. They had four sons and one daughter, plus seven grandchildren.

Keith Harmon, who works in sales and marketing for the Brewers network, said his father was able to "capture excitement" in his broadcasts.

"He really helped paint a picture of exactly what was going on in the field," Keith Harmon said.

He said one of his father's favorite games was calling Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan's 5,000th career strikeout, on Aug. 22, 1989, for Texas against Oakland's Rickey Henderson.

"Major League Baseball and the Texas Rangers have lost a legendary play-by-play announcer and a great friend," the Rangers said in a statement. "Merle Harmon called games with distinction and class."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.