White Sox: Let’s talk about legendary Ken ‘Hawk’ Harrelson
The White Sox broadcast legend will retire after this season. The broadcaster has had many legendary calls over the years and will be remembered fondly by fans.
On May 31, 2017, Ken Harrelson announced that his years in the White Sox broadcast booth will end after the 2018 season. Harrelson will soon begin his 33rd season with the White Sox. And, he’s set to call 20 games before moving into an ambassador role with the team.
Hawk’s games include the White Sox home opener on April 5, the Sept. 21-23 Cubs-White Sox series at home in late September, and afternoon home games on Sundays.
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How Hawk hatched
Ken Harrelson’s nickname is “Hawk.” In a 1986 interview with Chicago Magazine, he explained how his nickname came about:
“Dick Howser [now the manager of the Kansas City Royals] started calling me “Henrietta Hawk” when we were in the minor leagues. That was when I wasn‘t hitting. Then when I started batting a little better he said, “I guess it’s time to drop the ‘Henrietta.”
Hawk thought the name fit him, so he stuck with it. He told Chicago Magazine:
"“Anybody can be called Ken Harrelson, and I did have the features of a hawk. I thought it said a lot more about the way I was than ‘Ken’ did. It was not a name, but a description. It’s like you’d call someone ‘Hey, Mild’ or ‘Hey, Hot.’ I was a hawk. So I started going around to the PA announcers in the minor leagues and asking them to introduce me as Hawk Harrelson.”"
Before broadcasting sports, Hawk played sports. In high school, Hawk was a three-sport athlete, playing football, basketball, and baseball.
Hawk told the Chicago Magazine:
"“Basketball was my favorite sport to play. I made All-American in basketball and had 56 scholarship offers from major colleges. Football was second. Baseball was my third favorite to play, but I loved the game more than the others. I thought it was the hardest of all three to play, the best game of the three.”"
Hawk also played baseball professionally. The first baseman and right fielder was a part of the Kansas City Athletics (1963–66, 1967), the Washington Senators (1966–67), the Boston Red Sox (1967–69) and the Cleveland Indians (1969–71).
Throughout his nine seasons in the MLB, Harrelson was a .239 hitter with 131 home runs and 421 RBI in 900 games.
Breaking into broadcasting & managerial career
Hawk got his first taste of broadcasting after he was traded to the Indians. Hawk hosted a half-hour TV show, “The Hawk’s Nest,” in Cleveland.
Aside from broadcasting, Hawk served as the manager of the White Sox during the 1986 season. He finished his managing season with a record of 72-90.
After one managerial season, Hawk returned to broadcasting for the 1987–1988 seasons, he was the play-by-play announcer for New York Yankees.
From 1984 to 1989, Hawk served as a backup color commentator on NBC’s “Game of the Week” broadcasts with Jay Randolph. In 1994, Harrelson broadcasted for Baseball Network.
Harrelson returned to the beloved White Sox in 1990 as the main play-by-play announcer.
In 2009, Steve Stone began accompanying Harrelson in the booth. During this time Hawk won five Emmy Awards and two Illinois Sportscaster of the Year awards.
Next: Answering questions from 2018 Spring Training
Let’s hope the 20 games Hawk broadcasts are all winners because their biggest fan is also their voice. Hawk told the Chicago Tribune: “I want the White Sox to win. When they win there is not one person happier than I am. When they lose there is no one more down than I am.”