Thursday, September 4, 2014

Happy Baseball Birthday... Hawk Harrelson

Today's Happy Baseball Birthday is former big league first baseman and outfielder Ken "Hawk" Harrelson.

Kenneth Smith Harrelson was born on September 4, 1941, in Woodruff,  South Carolina.

Hawk went to high school at the Benedictine Military School in Savannah, Georgia,  where he played golf, baseball, football,  and basketball.

Harrelson was signed as a amateur free agent by the Kansas City Athletics in 1959.

Hawk made his big league debut on June 9, 1963, at the age of 21.

Hawk played first base and right field for 9 big league seasons,  1963-71, for the Athletics,  Washington Senators,  Boston Red Sox, and Cleveland Indians. 

In 1968, playing for the BoSox,  Harrelson led the American League in RBI, with 109, playing in the All-Star Game for the only time in his big league career. 

Hawk played in 900 games, scored 374 runs, collecting 703 base hits, 94 of them doubles,  along with 13 triples, 134 home runs, and 421 RBI in 2,841 at bats.

In the field Harrelson was a terrific defensive player, making only 41 errors in 4,101 chances, a .990 lifetime fielding percentage. 

Hawk played his final big league baseball game as a member of the Indians,  on June 9, 1971, at the age of 29.

After baseball Harrelson played proffessional golf, missing the cut in the 1972 British Open by one stroke (+11).

Hawk started broadcasting baseball games in 1975,  staring as a analyst on Red Sox games with Dick Stockton. 

Harrelson waa fired by the BoSox for his criticism of the teams players, and Hawk moved on to broadcasting ChiSox games in 1981, the left the booth in 1985, becoming the White Sox General Manager.

Harrelson was a less than successful GM, firing a young manager named Tony LaRussa, and his assistant GM, a guy named Dave Dombrowski.

In 1990 Hawk became the White Sox #1 TV announcer,  a job he is still doing today.

I love Hawk Harrelson...there, I said it.

There is no radio or TV play by play announcer with more love of the game of baseball and passion for his team quite like Hawk Harrelson and his beloved South Siders.

From his signature " can put it on the board...YES!"  home run calls for the White Sox,  to the "...he gone!"  call when an opposition player strikes out, Hawk Harrelson broadcast ChiSox games with unbridled baseball knowledge and passion. 

One of the reasons I love Hawk is that he loves the game, and will praise any player, on any team, for their good play, and criticize any player,  including ChiSox players,  for their poor play.

Hawk is also fantastic when he recalls the history of the game, including his playing days, and his tales of playing against the great American League players and teams of the 1960s.

Hawk was a member of the 1967 American League Champion Boston Red Sox, playing alongside guys like Carl Yaztremski and Jim Longborg, and facing down big league pitchers named Luis Tiant, Sam McDowell,  Mickey Lolich, and Bob Gibson.

There seems to be no gray are when it comes to Hawk Harrelson, its either pro Hawk, or anti Hawk.

Hawk has certainly done and said controversial things, but that's Hawk Harrelson,  and I think you have to give him credit for his consistency in the way he calls ball games.

Hawk is a 5 time Emmy Winner broadcasting baseball games, two time Illinois Sportscaster of the Year recipient,  2010 Ring Lardner Award winner, and a 2007 Ford Frick Award finalist.

To me, quite simply,  Ken "Hawk" Harrelson deserves to be in the broadcasting wing of the Hall of Fame.

Happy Baseball Birthday Hawk... "Mercy!"


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