He gone: Ken Harrelson calls final game for White Sox

SHARE He gone: Ken Harrelson calls final game for White Sox

White Sox broadcaster Ken “Hawk” Harrelson waves to fans during the seventh inning of a baseball game between the Chicago Cubs and the White Sox, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

You can put it on the board.

Ken “Hawk” Harrelson has called the last game of an illustrious career.

After 33 years in the White Sox’ broadcast booth, the colorful and iconic play-by-play man whose catchphrases and nicknames became household words, whose unabashed homerism and love for the Sox knew no bounds is retired.

He gone.

“Hawk’s gone,’’ Harrelson said. “In fact that’s what I want on my grave, I told you that. I want to be known as, ‘Here lies a man who adored his family, here lies a man who adored his White Sox, and he gone.’ So that’ll be that.’’

It didn’t end the way Harrelson, a diehard Sox fan to the end, wanted it.

“Right now, the only thing I want to do is take this game and kick the Cubs’ [butt],’’ he said before the game.

It was the Cubs who did the butt-kicking, though, knocking out Carlos Rodon in the third inning Sunday en route to a 6-1 victory.

Former Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who arrived unannounced in the booth during the fourth inning with the Cubs leading 6-0, was there to soothe Harrelson’s pain through one last defeat.

“We should be crying, the way this game is going,’’ Pierzynski said.

Pierzynski, who mixed it up with the Cubs’ Michael Barrett in 2006, longed for those days when the Sox (61-94) and Cubs (91-64) were competitive.

“Don’t you miss the days when both teams were good?” he said to Harrelson. “It was so fun. Those six games were almost better than a playoff game. There would be fights in the stands. People cared. The best six games of the year.’’

The Cubs — whom Harrelson spoke of respectfully to the end, his disdain for Wrigley Field notwithstanding — took two of three in the series at Wrigley and two of three at Guaranteed Rate Field. Preaching Sox gospel as always, Harrelson has been telling his audience happier days will be here again after he’s gone.

“I told [play-by-play successor] Jason [Benetti], ‘Sit back, relax and strap it down because you are getting ready to go on the wildest ride you’ve ever been on because our club in two years is going to be a monster,’ ’’ said Harrelson, convinced the Sox’ farm system will produce championship-caliber talent soon.

Harrelson, 77, has eased into retirement with two seasons calling mostly games on the road, a limited schedule this season and a celebration of his career this month with a “Hawk Day” on Sept. 2 and a release of the documentary “Hawk.”

“It’s very satisfying, mostly for his family,’’ Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said at the documentary sneak preview earlier this month. “Whatever anybody achieves in life, it really doesn’t mean as much for him as for the family. They can have wonderful memories.’’


Early exit leaves White Sox’ Rodon in foul mood

• Cubs pounce on White Sox, Rodon early, take series

Fans paid tribute on the video scoreboard to Harrelson, who in the seventh inning said he was just then beginning to feel the emotion of the end being close.

“I am just starting to feel it now, during the seventh-inning stretch,” he said after his broadcast partner Steve Stone asked him how he’ll be spending his time in retirement.

Harrelson needed a few moments to gather himself and said he would spend the time with his family.

In the ninth, with his family with him in the booth, fans from both sides of town among the sellout crowd gave him a standing ovation. The Sox joined from the dugout, and after the game, they stepped on the field, tipped their caps to him in the booth and applauded some more. Some Cubs, including manager Joe Maddon, joined in on the other side of the field.

“And this ballgame is ovah,” Harrelson said after the last out. “I’ve enjoyed this game very much, and I’ve loved it. And I’ll never forget it.’’

After a commercial break, it was time to thank Sox fans one last time as he and Stone, partners one last time, signed off.

“I love you all, and I always will,” Harrelson said, putting his head down and wiping away tears.

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