“You can put it on the board, yes!”, “Mercy!”, and “He gone!” are a few of the catch phrases that you will hear while watching a White Sox broadcast. All of these sayings belong to the long-time Chicago play-by-play announcer, Ken “Hawk” Harrelson.
Harrelson played in the MLB for 9 seasons before entering the broadcasting booth. His best season came as a member of the Boston Red Sox in 1968 when he hit 35 home runs and drove in an American League best 109 runs. In that season, Harrelson was an All-Star and finished third in the American League MVP voting. However, Hawk is not remembered for his 9 seasons in an MLB uniform.
Harrelson had an interesting road to his broadcasting career with the White Sox. He was first hired as the White Sox announcer in 1982. After the 1985 season, Hawk was hired as the White Sox General Manager. He made some controversial moves including firing his assistant Dave Dombrowski and Tony La Russa. Dombrowski has put together a World Series contending roster in Boston while Tony La Russa has won multiple World Series rings as a manager.
Hawk’s stint as the GM only lasted a year and he was back in the broadcasting booth in the 1987 season, but this time for the New York Yankees. Harrelson was in New York for two years before returning to the White Sox as their play-by-play announcer in 1990. Hawk has remained there to this day. Starting in the 2016 season, the aging Harrelson cut his schedule in half by announcing only road games and a select number of home games. These home games include opening day and the White Sox home series against the crosstown Cubs.
Harrelson’s career as an announcer has been met by harsh criticism. Sox fans love him, but fans of other teams seem to have a different opinion. In a 2016 poll by awfulannouncing.com, the tandem of Harrelson and color analysist Steve Stone were rated as the worst broadcast team in baseball. This comes as no surprise because of Harrelson’s homer mentality.
I would rather listen to someone mowing the lawn at 6 AM than listen to "Hawk" Harrelson commentate baseball
— Ben (@773_202_LUNAK) May 7, 2014
Hawk is such a homer in fact that he lets it get the best of him sometimes. He has been fined, suspended, and criticized by the MLB for some of his comments. His worst blow-up came when the White Sox were taking on the Rays at Tropicana Field in 2012:
Harrelson was suspended by the MLB for this rant and later called and apologized to umpire Mark Wegner for his actions.
Another classic Hawk Harrelson came when the White Sox were in the midst of a brutal 2013 campaign:
The Sox eventually went onto win 63 games in 2013 and as you can tell, it wasn’t a good year for Harrelson either.
Whether you like Hawk or not, he makes the game entertaining. He claims that he wants to be in the booth until 2020. That way he can see the transformation of this White Sox team. He has covered some pretty bad clubs over the years. Imagine how long he has waited for a talented and young team.
We all hope we can get a few more “Hawk moments” out of Harrelson as he wraps up his broadcasting career.