MILWAUKEE -- Merle Harmon, the original radio voice of the Milwaukee Brewers, died Wednesday at a hospital in Arlington, Texas, after a long battle with illness. He was 82.
Harmon was known in Milwaukee as the final play-by-play man for the Milwaukee Braves before that team moved to Atlanta in 1966 and then the original voice of the Brewers from 1970-79. He also called Texas Rangers games from 1982-89 and worked for both ABC and NBC during a broadcasting career that spanned 45 years.
Bob Uecker, who joined Harmon in the Brewers' booth in 1971 and is still calling games today, issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon.
"Merle was a great friend and a wonderful partner in the booth, and the memories he leaves us with will be cherished forever," Uecker said. "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.
"My heart goes out to his family, and I speak for everyone at the Brewers in saying that this is a very sad day for all of us."
Harmon served in the United States Navy during World War II and began his broadcasting career in 1949 with the Topeka Owls in the Kansas-Oklahoma-Missouri League.
He later moved to the Kansas City Blues and was the first voice of the Kansas City Athletics when they relocated from Philadelphia in 1954. In 1961, he joined ABC and did the Game of the Week in 1965. He also called football with the Kansas City Chiefs and the New York Jets.
After his 10-year tenure with the Brewers, Harmon joined NBC in 1980 to call World Series games and was supposed to anchor the 1980 Summer Olympic Games in Moscow before the U.S. boycott. He joined the Rangers' broadcast team in 1982 and called their games until his retirement in 1989.
"I think every accolade that Harry Kalas deserved this week, Merle deserves the same," Rangers broadcaster Dave Barnett said. "He was one of only a few people who had an impact in that many different markets."
Harmon was also known for his retail store, Merle Harmon's Fan Fair, which opened in Milwaukee in 1977 selling sports merchandise and grew to 140 stores nationwide.
Harmon's son, Keith, still lives in Milwaukee and works for the Brewers' flagship radio station.