Harry Edwin Heilmann (August 3, 1894 – July 9, 1951), nicknamed "Slug" due to his lack of speed, was an American baseball player and radio announcer. He played professional baseball for 19 years between 1913 and 1932, including 17 seasons in Major League Baseball with the Detroit Tigers (1914, 1916–1929) and Cincinnati Reds (1930, 1932). He was a play-by-play announcer for the Tigers for 17 years from 1934 to 1950.
Heilmann won four American League batting championships, securing the honors in 1921, 1923, 1925 and 1927. He appeared in 2,147 major league games, including 1,525 games as a right fielder and 448 as a first baseman and compiled a career batting average of .342, the 12th highest in major league history, and third highest among right-handed batters. At the time of his retirement in 1932, Heilmann ranked sixth in major league history with 542 doubles and eighth with 1,540 RBIs. He remains one of only five players in American League history to hit .400 for a season, having accomplished the feat in 1923 with a .403 batting average. At his peak from 1921 to 1927, Heilmann compiled a .380 batting average, .452 on-base percentage, .583 slugging percentage, and averaged 116 RBIs, 41 doubles, 11 triples, and 104 runs scored per season.
After retiring from baseball, Heilmann ran unsuccessfully for the office of Detroit City Treasurer and operated a semipro baseball team in 1933 and, in 1934, began a career as a radio broadcaster. From 1934 to 1941, he was play-by-play announcer on the Michigan Radio Network covering parts of Michigan located outside metropolitan Detroit. From 1942 to 1950, he was the exclusive radio voice of the Tigers throughout the state. Heilmann died from lung cancer in July 1951. He was posthumously elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame six months later in January 1952.
Heilmann was ill for much of the winter after the 1950 season. On March 14, 1951, he collapsed at the Tigers' spring training camp in Lakeland, Florida. He was hospitalized at Morrell Hospital in Lakeland, and the Detroit Free Press reported two days later that he was in critical condition with a lung condition. At the end of March, after two weeks in the Lakeland hospital, the Tigers' owner Walter O. Briggs flew Heilmann back to Detroit on his private plane. Heilmann was taken by ambulance from the airport to Henry Ford Hospital, where he remained hospitalized. He remained hospitalized through the month of April, and Ty Tyson was selected to fill in for Heilmann on Tiger broadcasts during Heilmann's illness. Heilmann was released from the hospital and returned home in May 1951. On June 1, 1951, he was greeted warmly by the crowd when he and his wife attended a game at Briggs Stadium. He also returned briefly to the Tiger broadcasts in early June, sharing the duties with Tyson and Paul Williams.
Heilmann was hospitalized again at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit on June 24 as his condition worsened, and he died there on July 9, 1951. It was only after his death that it was disclosed that the nature of his illness was lung cancer. Detroit mayor Albert Cobo recalled that Heilmann's radio broadcasts made him "almost a member of the family" to Detroiters. Team owner Walter Briggs recalled Heilmann as one of his closest friends and said, "I doubt whether the death of any other person in the State of Michigan could cause more genuine regret."
The 1951 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was played in Detroit on the day after Heilmann died and began with a moment of silence in his honor. Heilmann's funeral mass was celebrated by Father Charles Coughlin at the Shrine of the Little Flower in Royal Oak, Michigan. He was buried at the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Southfield, Michigan.