No, Cubs, no: Harrelson says he’ll never go back to Wrigley
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BOSTON — Ken Harrelson will return to Fenway Park, where he played for the Red Sox in the 1967 World Series and where he broadcast a White Sox road game against the Red Sox for the last time Sunday.
But he won’t — and make sure you get this on your calendar, Jason Benetti — go back to Wrigley Field.
‘‘Ever,’’ Harrelson said Sunday. ‘‘Fenway is just a special place. Look at this ballpark. The only [visiting clubhouse] worse is Wrigley Field — the two worst clubhouses in baseball for visiting players. I’ll tell you this much: I’ll never go back to Wrigley Field again.’’
Harrelson, who cut back to working road games last season and this season, will return for his 34th and final season in the broadcast booth in 2018. His schedule will be primarily Sunday home games, but he will call select other games. He worked the Sox’ two games at Wrigley last month, and those will be his last there, he said.
‘‘We’ve got three games over at their place [next season], and I told [chairman] Jerry [Reinsdorf] before we came on this trip, ‘I’m not going back to Wrigley Field,’’’ Harrelson said. ‘‘He said, ‘Well, you’ve got three games there next year.’ I said, ‘Well, we’re going to get rid of those.’
‘‘Worst press box, worst booths for television. It’s a joke; it really is. And so Jason is getting ready for those three at Wrigley. I will never step foot in that ballpark again. Ever.’’
Before calling the game Sunday against the Red Sox, Harrelson reminisced inside the visitors’ clubhouse about his playing days at Fenway. A power-hitting first baseman, Harrelson was released by the Athletics in 1967 and signed by the Red Sox, whom he helped win the American League pennant that season. He followed that up with his best season, batting .275 with 35 home runs and 109 RBI in 1968. In April 1969, he abruptly was traded to the Indians, which stunned him so much that he briefly retired.
His feelings about the Red Sox are mixed.
‘‘Because I’m a White Sox guy now, outside of the Cubs, believe it or not, I would rather beat the Red Sox than anybody,’’ he said. ‘‘I would rather beat the Cubs more than anybody, so that definitely stamps me as a White Sox guy.’’
The Red Sox are celebrating the 50-year anniversary of the 1967 team Aug. 16, and Harrelson will return to Boston to join in.
‘‘Whenever I think about Boston and the Red Sox, it’s always [Carl] Yastrzemski and [Jim] Lonborg,’’ he said. ‘‘Those two guys, that was the renaissance of baseball in New England in 1967.
‘‘It was the birth of Red Sox Nation. . . . I love Ted Williams. He was a great, great guy and certainly one of [the best], if not the best, hitters that ever lived — he and [Stan] Musial, probably. But Ted never had a year like Yaz had in ’67. It was one of those things you really had to see it to believe.’’
Harrelson, who is working on a book with author Jeff Snook, offered some intriguing insight into what he will reveal.
‘‘He’s got 25 chapters already, and there are some people who won’t like it,’’ Harrelson said. ‘‘It’s not a kiss-and-tell book, but I have lived with a lot of things . . . and there are some people who let me live with these things.
‘‘Jeff found some stories that I read — and I had never seen them — about three people in particular [who] said some things that were lies. So they gave their version of it, and now I’m going to tell the truth and give my version of it, and they’re not going to like it. It will be interesting.’’
Follow me on Twitter @CST_soxvan.