Hawk's legendary career honored in Chicago

Tributes pour in from broadcasting luminaries, White Sox legends, former Commissioner Selig

September 2nd, 2018

CHICAGO -- It was a few weeks ago when Ken "Hawk" Harrelson sat down at home and started making notes about what he would say during Sunday's ceremony honoring him at Guaranteed Rate Field.

The iconic White Sox television voice for 33 years never finished that task.

"I said the hell with it," Harrelson said. "It's going to be right in front of you."

Right in front of Harrelson on Sunday was an appreciative White Sox fan base that gave him three standing ovations. There were members of his baseball family, ranging from White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf to Hall of Famer Frank Thomas, whom Harrelson so aptly dubbed the Big Hurt, and A.J. Pierzynski, who served as Harrelson's guest analyst in the broadcast booth, where he snagged a foul ball right in front of Hawk during the White Sox 8-0 win over Boston.

Most important were Harrelson's children, Casey and Krista, Casey's fiancée, his three grandchildren and Harrelson's wife, Aris, as they prepare to celebrate their 45th anniversary. Harrelson paid special tribute to his wife, saying he loved her today more than ever.

"Yeah, [congratulatory messages have] come in from all over the country. I mean, it's amazing," Harrelson said. " Especially the last few days, texts, I just got another one from a guy that just flew in from Las Vegas. California. It's been amazing.

"I'm honored by this; I'm humbled by it. I haven't felt like this very often in my life. It's a new, interesting experience is what it is, to have these emotions. Like I said, I've never had them before."

In a chat with the media before the ceremony began, Harrelson predicted he was too emotional to get through the festivities without breaking down a bit. In fact, Harrelson's voice cracked a few times during that interview session.

Fellow announcers Eric Nadel, Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven, Bob Uecker, Denny Matthews, Gary Thorne and Buck Martinez, along with former MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, paid video tribute to Harrelson. Nadel thanked Harrelson for showing "there's a different way in doing this. You can show your personality and emotions on the air."

Tom Paciorek, one of Harrelson's friends and broadcast partners, led the crowd in a "You can put it on the board, Yes!" in unison, in tribute to one of Harrelson's famous calls. Harrelson's speech was pure Hawk, recounting great moments, praising countless people from the organization and even mentioning a few associated with baseball, in his raw honest way, whom he didn't particularly love.

Harrelson dubbed Chris Sale, who was sitting in the Red Sox's dugout taking in the entire 30-minute ceremony, as one of his favorite White Sox players and the best pitcher in the game. He also mentioned how the White Sox's rebuild, which began with the Sale trade to Boston, has Chicago positioned for the best run in franchise history.

This potential run will be done without Harrelson, who will finish his broadcast career the weekend of Sept. 21-23 with the Cubs Interleague series at Guaranteed Rate Field. He will be gone from the White Sox broadcasts but certainly never forgotten.

"It's been a great ride," Harrelson said. "I told Jason [Benetti], my successor, I said, 'You're a lucky young man, buddy. Get ready to sit back, relax and strap it down. You're in for a great ride.' He's coming in at a perfect time."