CHICAGO (CBS) — Former White Sox broadcaster Ken “Hawk” Harrelson will be recognized in the Baseball Hall of Fame, after winning the 2020 Ford Frick Award on Wednesday.
The award is presented by the Hall of Fame each year to a broadcaster who has made “major contributions to baseball.”
“I am truly humbled to receive the greatest honor for any broadcaster in baseball,” said Harrelson. “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.”
Harrelson will be formally inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, next July.
Cubs and White Sox announcers Bob Elson, Jack Brickhouse, and Harry Caray, and former White Sox announcer Bob Elson also have won Ford Frick Awards for their accomplishments as broadcasters.
“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,” he added.
Harrelson, 78, was unapologetic in his passionate support for the White Sox over 34 seasons as the team’s TV play-by-play announcer, which endeared him with some fans, and deeply annoyed others who saw him as a “homer.”
Known for catchphrases like “can of corn,” “he gone!” “you can put it on the board! Yes!” and “this ballgame is ‘ovah!’” – often referred to as Hawkisms – Harrelson was either loved or hated by fans.
“Hawk changed the language of the game,” said White Sox television analyst Steve Stone, who worked alongside Harrelson in the TV booth for ten years before Harrelson’s retirement from broadcasting in 2018. “He touched many lives and to the White Sox and baseball he was an original unique voice of the game”
Harrelson also coined nicknames for many White Sox players, such as Frank “The Big Hurt Thomas,” “Black Jack” McDowell, Carlos “El Caballo” Lee, Lance “One Dog” Johnson, and Herbert “The Milkman” Perry.
“Today’s Frick Award honor for Hawk is very deserved, and I cannot be happier for him,” said Thomas, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014. “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.”
Never a big fan of analytics, one of Harrelson’s more infamous catchphrases was “the will to win,” which he argued would “supersede anything sabermetrics brings in.”
Harrelson began his career as a White Sox broadcaster in 1982, briefly stepping away from the microphone to become the team’s general manager in 1986. He returned to the booth after only one season as GM, during which he infamously fired manager Tony LaRussa, who went on to win three World Series titles with the Oakland A’s and St. Louis Cardinals , and traded away rookie Bobby Bonilla, who later was a six-time All-Star for the Pirates.
While White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf has said hiring Harrelson as general manager was one of the biggest mistakes he ever made, he was effusive in his praise of “Hawk” as a broadcaster.
“Hawk is so deserving of this tremendous honor,” Reinsdorf said. “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.”