When the Chicago White Sox won the World Series, then Sox radio announcer John Rooney stated: “This is long overdue!” When news broke Wednesday that Ken “Hawk” Harrelson had won the Ford C. Frick Award and was officially in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, that same sentiment could be echoed all around the South Side.
Per the Baseball Hall of Fame’s website, “The Ford C. Frick Award is presented annually to a broadcaster for ‘major contributions to baseball.’ The award, named after the late broadcaster, National League President, Commissioner, and Hall of Famer, has been presented annually since 1978.”
The Hawk joins the likes of Vin Scully, Jack Brickhouse, Jack Buck, Harry Caray, Marty Brennaman, Bob Uecker, Jon Miller, Tim McCarver, Bob Costas, and several other legendary voices in winning this award. When you think of Major League Baseball, you think of the guys listed above. When you think of White Sox baseball, you think of Hawk Harrelson.
The Ford C. Frick Award is known as the top honor a baseball broadcaster can receive. Often discredited by opposing fans, Hawk Harrelson was often torn down during his 43-year broadcasting career. Harrelson gets the last laugh, however, as he rides off into the sunset holding such a prestigious honor. It’s the cherry on top of a magnificent career behind the microphone.
Harrelson was never shy with any opinion he held. He used the microphone in front of him often to voice those opinions. Didn’t like what he had to say? Hawk didn’t give a “rat’s behind” about your thoughts on him. He told it like he saw it, and never apologized for doing so.
There is no bigger White Sox fan on this planet than Hawk Harrelson. Many called him a homer. That wasn’t exactly a bold claim. Harrelson owned it. He loved it. That’s what made him such a perfect announcer for Chicago’s “second team.” Often overlooked by the team a few rivals North, the White Sox needed someone to drive the bus for their franchise. Nobody conducted better than Hawk.
For 33 seasons as the voice of the White Sox, Harrelson was a voice for the fans. He wanted that team to win as much as anyone watching from their couch. When they won, nobody was more excited. When they lost, nobody got pissed off quite like The Hawk. He loved the White Sox and the White Sox loved him back.
Love him or hate him, Hawk cares not. He is now officially enshrined in the most illustrious place in baseball, Cooperstown. While we were robbed of hearing Harrelson call the White Sox World Series winner in 2005, Harrelson called some big moments. Let’s look back and listen to a few of them.
This wasn’t your average 500th home run call. This was raw and pure emotion. Hawk was so excited he almost had a hard time getting his words out. Harrelson wasn’t calling just anyone’s 500th home run, he was calling the great Jim Thome‘s 500th. It was almost as if he was a proud father in the moment as he wraps up the call with “You’re awesome, big man!”
“ALEXEI.” He screams the White Sox’ shortstop’s name almost as if saying “you better not screw this up, dadgummit!” As the final out is officially recorded, the fan in Harrelson comes out. “YES! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!” One of the most loved Sox players of all time had indeed made history, and Hawk was as excited as anyone.
That 2008 team was special. During the last week of that season, fighting to get into the playoffs was one hell of a ride. This home run effectively sent the Sox to the “Blackout Game.” In the sixth inning, it sounded like Hawk had already lost his voice from cheering the boys on to victory.
This one works on a number of levels. The Sox were on the brink of losing, and Hawk doesn’t want anything to do with that. Saved from a loss and number 400 for Paul Konerko? “HELL YES!”
A much younger Ken Harrelson definitely wanted to run down on the field and pop bottles of champagne with the guys.
Like we’ve said a few times, nobody hated watching the White Sox lose more than Hawk. His reactions to such events were actually quite hilarious when you look back on them after the fact. Here are a few instances where Harrelson sulks with his listeners.
“This ballgame is ovah.”
Hawk was about to go down on that field as whoop some ass. He would have made a better coach than Robin Ventura and Hawk knew it.
Oh, and umpires. Sometimes broadcasters will sugarcoat things when an umpire misses calls. That, uh, wasn’t Harrelson’s style, to say the least. Let’s look back.
“What are you doing Wegner?!” This happened in the fourth inning. Hawk attacked Mark Wegner for the entire rest of the game. An absolute legend.
How many broadcasters have the stones to call an umpire a joke? One. That is why he won the Ford C. Frick Award.
There is never a bad time for a trip down memory lane with Hawk Harrelson moments. They are pure emotion. Pure elation when things are going bad, and complete anger and disgust when things are going poorly. That is what a good team broadcaster does. He provides a voice for the fans.
The last of his generation, living on the edge behind the microphone, Harrelson retired following the 2018 season. He spent 43 seasons in the broadcast booth, with 34 of them coming with the White Sox.
Harrelson was a two-time Illinois Sportscaster of the Year. He was a five-time Emmy Award winner. In 2010, Harrelson won the Ring Lardner Award for Excellence in Sports Journalism. Now, you can add 2020 Ford C. Frick Award winner to his long resume of accomplishments.
The Hawk will receive his award on Saturday, July 25th in Cooperstown during the Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Weekend. On behalf of White Sox fans everywhere, we congratulate you, Hawk, on one hell of an accomplishment to cap off one hell of a career.
Featured Photo: NBC Sports Chicago