You can put Hawk on the board. Yes!
Longtime announcer, idled during playoffs, rejoins Sox
CHICAGO -- Before the regular season came to a close, White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf asked Ken "Hawk" Harrelson if he would travel with the team during the postseason.
Harrelson has served as the television voice of the White Sox for the past 16 years, with his trademark calls of "He gone" and "You can put it on the board. Yes!" becoming a staple in Chicago long before the White Sox success. But with the playoff games all being televised by national networks, Harrelson was put on a sort of hiatus.
That idea was fine with Harrelson, who mentioned that the networks pay a great deal of money for these games and should be able to use their own people. But his low profile during the American League Division Series and the AL Championship Series was Harrelson's own call, a decision he expressed to Reinsdorf a few weeks back.
"I told Jerry, 'I'm not going to the playoffs,' " said Harrelson with a wry smile. "I said, 'I'll see you in the World Series.' I had a feeling."
On Saturday night, Harrelson proved to be a man of his word. The colorful announcer for Comcast Sports Net Chicago, WCIU and WGN arrived in the White Sox dugout during batting practice, after spending the past couple of weeks at his home in Florida watching the team. Harrelson spent more than 30 minutes speaking with various media outlets, although he declined most interview requests leading up to the World Series opener.
Harrelson praised the job done by general manager Ken Williams in assembling this championship team. He also expressed a great level of happiness for Reinsdorf, making his first trip to the World Series in 25 years of ownership.
But his highest praise was saved for manager Ozzie Guillen. Harrelson referred back to a point he made after the All-Star break, how Guillen would become a "sponge" during crunch time, taking all the criticism and heat on himself and deflecting it away from the players. Guillen has been the galvanizing force of this tight-knit unit.
"You won't find many managers who would do that," Harrelson said. "But he's done it and you knew he was going to do it.
"If we don't lose Frank [Thomas] and Maggs [Magglio Ordonez] last year, he probably goes two-for-two in reaching the World Series."
That might have been a bit of a stretch, especially with the White Sox problems on the base paths and at the fifth starter's spot in 2004. Harrelson did take time to enjoy the current World Series excitement on Saturday, a far greater spectacle then the one he played in back in 1967, when the Cardinals topped his Red Sox.
Harrelson listed that particular Series as a "6 1/2 or 7 on a scale of 10." He put this year's competition at 10.
There also were compliments for the broadcasters who had been filling in in for Harrelson, with a special tip of the cap to ESPN's Chris Berman and Rick Sutcliffe. Harrelson called them the best team working in the business, appreciating Sutcliffe's acumen and enjoying Berman's levity.
Berman and Harrelson share the somewhat unique common bond of giving nicknames to players, such as Bert "Be Home" Blyleven, "The Big Hurt" or "One Dog." Berman also gave Harrelson a televised pat on the back during the ALDS sweep of Boston.
The plan for Harrelson is to join the White Sox in Houston if they win the first two games at U.S. Cellular Field. If that scenario doesn't play out, then Harrelson will travel to South Bend, Ind., to visit his grandson.
Even if Harrelson is not there in person, he's there in spirit. And that White Sox spirit has moved Harrelson on a couple of occasions during the postseason.
"Oh, yeah. Actually, two points," said Harrelson, who watched the game with vice president of marketing Brooks Boyer on Saturday. "When they clinched in Boston and then when they clinched in Anaheim.
"My wife and I were sitting there and I was crying like a baby. The thing about it is, when you are with a club in crunch time that wins 12 of 13, that ain't all bad. It would be something to close it off winning 16 of 17, wouldn't it?"
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.