By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — Some fans love him, some fans despise him, but he’s pretty hard to ignore.
White Sox broadcaster Hawk Harrelson doubled down on his criticism of the Cubs’ fabled Wrigley Field on Saturday, echoing recent comments that he’ll never step foot in the stadium again and then adding more detail to why he loathes the place.
“For the visiting team, Wrigley has the worst clubhouse in baseball,” Harrelson said on Inside the Clubhouse on 670 The Score. “Once you get on the field, it’s great, the same way as at Fenway Park. Fenway Park is second, the second-worst clubhouse in baseball. And once you get on the field, it’s great. I’m just tired (of it). The broadcast booths are terrible. They’re the worst in Major League Baseball. Getting up there is just a pain in the butt, the press box.
“It’s just time for that ballpark to be replaced. It’s just that simple. I’m only saying stuff that everybody knows who goes there. But nobody wanted to say it, so I decided yeah (to say it). I’ll never step another foot inside Wrigley Field.”
Harrelson’s comments came as the Cubs are amid the fourth year of a major renovation to Wrigley Field and the surrounding area. While massive video boards, new bullpens and a new home clubhouse have been installed, the visitors’ clubhouse and press box haven’t been redone yet. They’re set to be rebuilt and restructured in the last year of the rehab process, in the offseason after the 2019 campaign and before the 2020 season starts.
Harrelson started in the broadcast booth in 1975 and became the team’s play-by-play voice in 1990, a position in which he has since remained. He’s had a reduced workload in recent seasons, one that will be cut even more in 2018, down to 20 games, after which he’ll retire.
Harrelson is planning to become a White Sox ambassador after he retires, participating in assorted team functions and still attending some home games. If he does that through 2020, he’ll have been a part of MLB for more than 60 seasons and had a role in the game in eight different decades, a threshold only a select few have ever reached. Harrelson began his playing career as am minor leaguer in 1959.
He also wants to release a book around Opening Day in 2018, and he promises to go after those who have defamed or criticized he and his friends.
“Yes, it is about defending my friends and myself,” Harrelson said of his book. “It is also setting the record straight for my grandchildren. That is the reason I want to go until 2020. That will put me in that very exclusive club that has only four people that they can find that is in it — Vin Scully, Don Zimmer, Dave Garcia and Tommy Lasorda. That is being in pro baseball all or part of eight decades. Those kids who are 13, 10 and four have a right to know that some things that were said about me were probably not true. That is what I will try and clear up in this book.”
A believer in using the pitch clock and limiting mound visits to speed up the game, Harrelson also addressed his stance on umpires, indicating he plays a good cop-bad cop role himself.
“I probably have praised umpires more than any announcer in baseball,” Harrelson said. “It’s true. I probably get on them more than any announcer in baseball when they don’t do a good job. They are a prominent part of the game, and I know how tough their job is. When they don’t hustle and have a bad game, that irks me. When you’re going to call 300 pitches behind the plate, you are going to miss some. Their ears are growing bigger and bigger every year. By that I mean they are hearing more stuff they should just leave alone.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.