The White Sox named Jason Benetti as Ken Harrelson’s television play-by-play replacement for home games Wednesday. Benetti, a 32-year-old Homewood-Flossmoor graduate, has called college football and basketball for ESPN since 2011 and has five years of baseball play-by-play experience for the Syracuse Chiefs, the AAA affiliate of the Washington Nationals.
Harrelson, 74, is cutting back his schedule to work only road , the two Cubs-Sox games and home opener at U.S. Cellular Field. Cutting out home games removes the lengthy commutes to his home near South Bend, Ind.
“Jason is a very good broadcaster right now. He has, in my opinion, the opportunity to be an elite broadcaster,” White Sox senior vice president for sales and marketing Brooks Boyer said. “He is smart, funny, hard-working and has a passion for the game, his craft and, most importantly — and what stood out to me — for the fans. My hope is that he connects quickly with the fan base, which I think he will. … because, as a side benefit, he is one of them.”
Benetti, who grew up in south suburban Homewood rooting for the Sox, was born with cerebral palsy.
Benetti is part of the Cerebral Palsy Foundation’s ‘Just Say Hi’ campaign and has presented to ESPN’s ENABLED, the network’s resource group that celebrates and addresses employee diversity, including people with disabilities.
“The daily difficulties are really limited to a misstep here and a stumble there,” he said in an interview with ESPN. “Some people who meet me may note that my shoes are more worn than the average person’s because of my gait. I’ve chosen a profession in which the way I walk doesn’t directly affect my performance.
“I’ve been floored by the respect producers, directors, camera people, sound people and everyone else has given me. To me, they don’t even see a disability.”
Benetti holds a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University and a law degree from Wake Forest.
Steve Stone agreed to a multiyear extension to return as analyst, alongside Benetti at Sox home games and with Harrelson on the road. Stone will begin his ninth season with the Sox.
Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson will return to the radio booth as the Sox transition to 890 WLS-AM. Connor McKnight will take over as host of pre-game and post-game radio shows.