Ken Harrelson named 2020 Ford C. Frick Award winner

December 11th, 2019

CHICAGO -- The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum today announced legendary Chicago White Sox television play-by-play announcer Ken “Hawk” Harrelson as the 2020 Ford C. Frick Award winner.

Harrelson, 78, joins J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner Nick Cafardo (posthumously) as 2020 Hall of Fame award recipients. Presentation of the Spink and Frick awards occurs on Saturday, July 25, 2020, during Induction Weekend in Cooperstown, N.Y.

“I am truly humbled to receive the greatest honor for any broadcaster in baseball,” said Harrelson. “I would like to thank the Frick Award committee for selecting me for this tremendous honor. It is very humbling to join the impressive list of past recipients, including all of the voices who educated and entertained generations of Chicago fans over the years. I also want to thank the White Sox organization for allowing me the opportunity to bring the great game of baseball to our fans. In the end, broadcasting has always been about having a conversation with Sox fans, and I need to thank them from the bottom of my heart for allowing me into their homes each night to talk about the team and the sport we all love.”

Harrelson, who has over 40 years of broadcasting experience during his eight decades in professional baseball, retired from broadcasting following the completion of the 2018 major-league season after serving as the voice of White Sox television for 33 seasons. He also spent seven seasons in the television booth for the Red Sox from 1975-81 and two years with the Yankees from 1987-88.

Harrelson is a two-time Illinois Sportscaster of the Year and five-time Emmy Award winner. He was honored with the 2010 Ring Lardner Award for Excellence in Sports Journalism in the broadcast category at the Union League Club in Chicago and received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the CSN Awards Dinner in February 2007.

“Hawk is so deserving of this tremendous honor,” said White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. “His passion for baseball is unmatched, and he has entertained generations of White Sox fans with his stories, experiences and insight. He cared passionately about the White Sox and like our fans, took every win and loss to heart. With his nicknames and catchphrases, Hawk changed the way people talk about baseball and even how they describe day-to-day life. Hawk deservedly joins an impressive list of great Chicago baseball announcers who have been honored by the Hall of Fame with the Frick Award.”

Harrelson is the fifth former White Sox broadcaster to receive the prestigious award, joining Jack Brickhouse (1983), Harry Caray (1989), Bob Elson (1979) and Milo Hamilton (1992).

“Today’s Frick Award honor for Hawk is very deserved, and I cannot be happier for him,” said 2014 Hall of Famer Frank Thomas. “Hawk ranks among the greatest broadcasters in baseball history, and this award cements his legacy in the game. I will always appreciate Hawk coining “The Big Hurt” nickname because it was a huge part of who I was as a ballplayer. Induction weekend is a special time in Cooperstown, and I’m excited to have a front row seat for his speech.” 

“Hawk truly is a legend,” said White Sox great Paul Konerko. “He’s a recognizable figure and has done nothing but good things for the game. Hawk spent a ton of time in the broadcast booth literally changing the vocabulary of the game. His nicknames and catch phrases are still being used by media, players and fans today.”

“Hawk has made a lasting impact during his eight decades in the game and I can’t think of anyone who is more deserving of this honor,” said former White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski. “He became synonymous with White Sox baseball, and I was privileged to be part of it during my eight seasons on the South Side. Hawk was like a father to me and guys like Paulie and Buehrle. This is a long overdue honor and a great day for Hawk, his family and everyone associated with White Sox baseball. Put that on the board, yes!”

The passionate Harrelson might be most famous for his popular phrases that have remained an important part of the baseball vocabulary. Sayings like, “He gone!”, “Grab some bench!” and “You can put it on the board, yes!” are now part of baseball’s lexicon. In addition to his “Hawkisms,” Harrelson also delivered decades worth of nicknames for White Sox players, including “The Big Hurt” (Frank Thomas), “Black Jack” (Jack McDowell), “El Caballo” (Carlos Lee) and “The Cuban Missile” (Alexei Ramírez), among many others.

“Hawk changed the language of the game,” said White Sox television analyst Steve Stone. “He touched many lives and to the White Sox and baseball he was an original unique voice of the game”

“Forever, Hawk will be with the best of the best in Cooperstown, where he and his creativity and passion belong,” said White Sox television play-by-play announcer Jason Benetti. “He’s touched all of us and changed the way so many speak about the game in Chicago and beyond. He deserves this deeply.”

Harrelson was selected by a 15-member Frick committee, comprised of the 11 living award recipients and four broadcast historians/columnists. The committee based its selection on commitment to excellence, quality of broadcasting abilities, reverence within the game, popularity with fans and recognition by peers.

Former executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association Marvin Miller and eight-time All-Star Ted Simmons were elected to the Hall of Fame by the Modern Baseball Era Committee on December 8. The results of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America will be announced on January 21, with Induction Weekend scheduled for July 25-26, 2020.