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Hawk 'shocked' to grace media guide cover

White Sox plan to honor legendary broadcaster during 2018 season
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- The question for Brooks Boyer, the White Sox senior vice president of sales and marketing, centered upon describing White Sox television play-by-play announcer Ken "Hawk" Harrelson, who enters his 34th and final season as the team's on-air voice.

Boyer's answer was somewhat simple, and obvious, to anybody who has followed the iconic broadcaster.

CHICAGO -- The question for Brooks Boyer, the White Sox senior vice president of sales and marketing, centered upon describing White Sox television play-by-play announcer Ken "Hawk" Harrelson, who enters his 34th and final season as the team's on-air voice.

Boyer's answer was somewhat simple, and obvious, to anybody who has followed the iconic broadcaster.

"How many words do I get?" Boyer said with a laugh. "He's a legend."

Legendary enough that in honor of Harrelson's 2018 season, featuring a scaled-back workload of 20-25 games, "Hawk" graces the cover of the White Sox media guide. There are four separate pictures of Harrelson on the front, along with famous catchphrases such as "He gone," "Mercy," "You can put it on the board, yes!" "This ballgame is ovah" and "Stretch."

During an MLB Network interview with Matt Vasgersian and Harold Reynolds on Wednesday morning, when Harrelson checked in as the mystery caller, he admitted to knowing nothing about the media guide honor.

"I just got some in the mail. They did a great job," Harrelson said. "I was shocked. Nobody told me anything about this. Then, a friend of mine somehow got a picture of it, and he sent it to me a few days ago and I thought it was a gag or something. I think it's nice, and the reception has been terrific for it. It's unique, put it that way."

Unique is also another way to describe Harrelson. He is a self-admitted ardent fan of the White Sox, although not afraid to criticize the team when things go askew.

Video: Hawk Harrelson on state of announcing in baseball

Harrelson talked Wednesday about the rebuilding White Sox being about three years away from contention as the young players learn the nuances of baseball. He also stressed his two keys to winning at the Major League level.

"Catch the ball," Harrelson said. "And the next thing is, don't mess with [umpire] Joe West."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

This season, Harrelson will broadcast Sunday home day games, the White Sox home opener against the Tigers on April 5 and three home games against the Cubs on Sept. 21-23. He will broadcast games with Jason Benetti and Steve Stone, the duo who will comprise the team moving forward.

Harrelson reiterated Wednesday that he will not be returning to Wrigley Field for the three games the White Sox play there on May 11-13.

Despite Vasgersian's pleas for Harrelson to stick around in the booth, Harrelson won't waver from becoming a White Sox ambassador after 2018 and watching his grandchildren's games. His one-of-a-kind style won't be replicated.

"I didn't grow up in Illinois, but when I moved here, I knew exactly who 'Hawk' was," said Boyer, who added Harrelson will be honored during the 2018 season. "You would see White Sox games and use his catchphrases.

"He's legendary. He's a dying breed. You just can't have homers the way 'Hawk' is, and guys that just wear it on their sleeves. For someone who has the history that he has, and has done the things he has, you can't replicate that. It's broadcast straight down the middle now. He is the farthest thing from straight down the middle. It will be different not to have him around."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox