Ken Harrelson considered cutting back his workload. But if you know Harrelson, it’s tough to see the White Sox broadcaster and No. 1 fan pulling himself away from the booth in 2015.
“I looked at the schedule 15, 20, 30 times,” Harrelson said Monday. “I narrowed it down to about 120 games but now that’s out the window.”
While Harrelson, 73, was finishing up his 30th season in the Sox booth in 2014, he began to consider cutting some road games from his schedule, citing missed family time, especially with his grandchildren. It’s a step broadcasters often make at the end of their careers.
“I was thinking about cutting my season short this year and now with all that’s going on I don’t think I’m going to do it,” Harrelson said. “It’s going to be a great year, a fun year to watch and when it gest like that I don’t care if you do 162 or 192. It’s fun to watch.”
“All that’s going on” are the offseason moves the Sox have made. Last week they signed two free agents, closer David Robertson and outfielder Melky Cabrera, and traded for right-hander Jeff Samardzija. Last month they signed cleanup man Adam LaRoche and lefty reliever Zach Duke.
As you might expect, Harrelson said he wishes the season would begin in a month. He’s picking the Sox and the Cubs to win their divisions.
“It’s going to be a great baseball year for Chicago,” he said.
“My whole perspective has changed as far as my schedule goes now. It’s just a different thought process for me. My wife and I were talking about it the night before last at dinner and I said ‘Honey, I don’t think I’m going to take any time off. She said ‘good,it’s going to be a fun year.’ I said said, ‘You’re damn right it is. It’s going to be a real fun year.”
This will be Harrelson’s eighth year alongside analyst Steve Stone.
“He has put in enough time doing what he’s done, and the same went for Harry [Caray] that he should be able to determine exactly what he wants to do,” Stone said. “If he wants to do the full schedule, he deserves to do the full schedule. When the day comes that he wants to pull back, he should be able to do that. And that’s a good thing.”
Stone was equally encouraged by the improvements made by general manager Rick Hahn, executive vice president Ken Williams and chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. The Sox were 73-99 two seasons ago — which Harrelson described as his most difficult year in broadcasting — and 83-89 last season. The 2013 season was tough on the broadcast team as well as the Sox fan base.
“When you’re broadcasting for a team that does not do well it’s hard to make them sound good,” Stone said. “When the team is good and exciting, it makes for some really good broadcasts. If that’s what Rick and Kenny and Jerry have done for the broadcast team then I applaud them because they have made mine and Hawk’s jobs a whole lot easier.”
“Rick might be the most aggressive GM in baseball,” Harrelson said. “What has gone unsaid is the job he did last offseason to turn the ballclub around after that horrible ’13 season. He’s not afraid to pull the trigger as you can see, and I don’t think he’s done yet. I don’t know what it is but I think there’s something else up.”