Longtime Chicago White Sox broadcaster Ken “Hawk” Harrelson has been named the Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2020 Ford Frick Award winner.
Known as an unabashed “homer,” Harrelson called White Sox games for 34 of his 43 years as an announcer following a nine-year playing career in Kansas City, Washington, Boston and Cleveland.
"To receive such an honor, I’ve won some awards in my life, done some things in my life that I was very proud of, but this was something different, and I really haven’t digested it yet,” he said.
On a conference call after learning he had made it to Cooperstown, Harrelson acknowledged his history of polarizing listeners, “especially in a two-team city.”
“After I’d been working with the Red Sox for a couple months, Curt Gowdy calls me up and says, ‘I’d like to talk to you.’ And I said sure. So he came to Fenway and we talked and he said, ‘I’m going to give you the best piece of advice you’ll ever get about announcing. And I said, ‘What’s that, Curt?’ Because he was a great announcer, obviously. And he said, ‘Don’t try to please everybody, because you can’t.’”
Born in 1941 and raised in Savannah, Ga., Harrelson made it to the big leagues in 1963. The outfielder is credited with popularizing the batting glove, and had his best season with the Red Sox in 1968 — hitting 35 homers on the way to a third-place finish in the Most Valuable Player vote.
His career ended prematurely after he suffered a broken leg in spring training two years later. He then launched a pro golf career before turning to broadcasting. He also served as White Sox general manager in 1985, came back as a broadcaster in 1989 and stayed in the booth through the 2018 season.
“I love baseball right now more than I ever have, and I do miss it. To me it’s the greatest game going because there are no experts in it. Nobody knows the game of baseball. That’s how beautiful it is. You see things every week or two you’ve never seen before. And the acquaintances of course that you make, I miss those guys.”
One highlight of Harrelson’s career with the White Sox was the 2005 World Series — when Chicago swept the Astros to win its third championship and first in 88 years.
He earned the Frick Award by receiving the highest vote total among a 15-member Hall of Fame committee. The late Boston Globe reporter Nick Cafardo won the Spink Award for baseball writing. The induction ceremony is July 26 in Cooperstown.