The White Sox will open their season Thursday without a familiar voice.
After calling opening days for the team in parts of four decades, iconic broadcaster Ken Harrelson will be home on his couch saying “Kansas City special” instead of speaking it into a microphone as first-time full-time play-by-play man Jason Benetti and analyst Steve Stone call the game against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
It’s not quite time to say “he gone,” though. The Hawk will do about 20 games in his last season in the booth, calling mostly Sunday home games and select others, including the home opener against the Tigers on April 5.
A few Hawk broadcast treats are in store for Sox fans, including possible pairings with A.J. Pierzynski, Paul Konerko and Frank Thomas, the details of which need to be worked out.
“I think Paulie’s going to do a game, A.J. for sure and I think the Big Hurt,’’ Harrelson said.
Harrelson, 76, will not be seen or heard as often, but he won’t be forgotten. He’s featured on the cover of the Sox’ media guide.
“A nice gesture,” he said.
“It shocked me. Everybody has asked for them. People are still asking for the [Hawk alarm] clocks and bobbleheads. I don’t have any more.”
Harrelson, who worked mostly road games while Benetti covered most of the home schedule last season, will step away from the booth after this year and serve the Sox as an ambassador through the 2019 season, putting him in the rare company of being in baseball eight decades as a player, general manager and broadcaster. As always, Harrelson’s glass is half-full on the Sox’ outlook, even in a rebuilding year.
“This is by far the most [young] talent we’ve had since I’ve been here,’’ Harrelson said. “It’s not even close. Between the Cubs and Sox, we might be looking ahead to the best 10-year period of baseball in our city.’’
Note: The Sox will work out at Kauffman Stadium at 1 p.m. Wednesday, play the opener Thursday at 3:15 p.m. and have a day off Friday. The game-time forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with a high of 57.