For the better part of the last 30 years Ken “Hawk” Harrelson has been the primary broadcaster of White Sox games and he’s done it with a style that is both memorable and not. He’s well known for his Hawkisms:
“You can put it on the board… YES!”
They’re all popular made-for-bumper stickers sayings. Among White Sox fans, the Hawk has a loyal flock of fans who love his flagrant fervor for the team and don’t mind his foibles. But, there are some Sox supporters who have been hoping the Hawk gets heaved out of the broadcast booth. There’s even a long-standing website that is dedicated to the removal of the Hawk. Stating, “Mr. Harrelson’s unique blend of non-standard English and ego-maniacal blather has made the mute button a must for Sox T.V. viewers during the last four decades.”
That’s pretty much the feeling nationally too as GQ magazine named Hawk the worst announcer in the baseball broadcast biz. And you won’t get an argument from anyone on the north side of Chicago. Walk into any pub near Wrigley Field and you’re likely to hear some funny stories about the Hawk’s broadcasting blunders like the one Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija recently shared with the media.
Whether you love the Hawk or not one thing is certain, on Wednesday, May 30, 2012 Ken “Hawk” Harrelson gave baseball fans an epic meltdown that deserves a place in the Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
Some backstory: The day before the meltdown White Sox catcher AJ Pierzynski ran towards second base with cleats high in a obvious attempt to give Tampa Bay Rays infielder Ben Zobrist a need for stitches. Then, a day later, the Rays retaliated by hitting Pierzynski with a pitch that clunked him high in his back, as if they wanted him to play with a hunchback the rest of his career. As you’d expect, it was the White Sox turn to strike back and pitcher Jose Quintana tried to do just that by launching a pitch that traveled behind Ben Zobrist. The Rays player looked at Quintana with a smile as if to say “You dummy, you missed!” Typically, the umpire issues a warning to both benches and the teams go back to playing nice, but in this case plate umpire Mark Wegner immediately ejected the Sox pitcher from the game. The prompt ejection set Hawk off like the White Sox exploding score board.
“Oh what are you doin’? He threw him out of the ball game? You’ve got to be bleepin’ me? What in the hell are you doing? What are you doin’, Wegner? You’ve gotta be kiddin’ me! That is so bad! That is absolutely brutal!! That is un-believable!! I’ll tell ya what, they have got to start making guys be accountable; that is totally absurd! That just tells you– here’s an umpire in the American League that knows nothing about the game of baseball.”
The “good guys” went on to win the game, sweeping the series with Tampa Bay and extending their winning streak to a season-high eight games. They’re playing really well and it all has the makings of something unexpected. But, if the team heads south and ends up where most of us expected as least we’ll have the Hawk Attack to remember.