After 40-plus years as a baseball play-by-play man, including three decades with the Chicago White Sox, “he gone.”
That would be Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, known for his catch phrases and unabashed exuberance for his team, who called in a career on Sunday.
“Hawk’s gone,” Harrelson said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “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.”
Harrelson was behind the mic for the final time Sunday, a 6-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Harrelson, 77, has cut back his workload over the past few seasons, and the White Sox hosted “Hawk Day” on Sept. 2 to celebrate his career. The White Sox have struggled the past few years — the team is 61-94 this season, a .394 clip — but the team is believed to be on the cusp of a rebirth, similar to their much more heralded neighbor, the Cubs.
“I told [play-by-play successor] Jason, 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,” Harrelson told the newspaper, confident in the talent in the farm system.
“It’s going to be fun to watch and it’s going to be fun because the Cubs, they are good,” he said. “And they are not going anywhere. So it’s going to be fun to watch these two clubs butt heads. I think it has the chance to be the greatest decade in Chicago baseball history.”
In his major league career from 1963-71, Harrelson played for four franchises — the Kansas City Athletics, Washington Senators, Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians (1969-71). He was a lifetime .239 hitter with 131 home runs and 421 RBI in 900 games.
His career wasn’t without controversy.
His playing days with the A’s ended in 1967, when a Washington newspaper said Harrelson called team owner Charlie Finley “a menace to baseball” after he fired manager Alvin Dark. Finley released Harrelson, and he signed with the Boston Red Sox.
He began his broadcast career in 1975 with Boston and was fired in 1981 after criticizing Boston co-owner Haywood Sullivan. He moved on to the White Sox from 1982-85, then served as the White Sox general manager for a season in 1986. He returned to the Chicago broadcast booth for good in 1990.
In the seventh inning Sunday, he started to get emotional when chatting with on-air partner Steve Stone.
“I am just starting to feel it now, during the seventh inning stretch,” he said.
In the ninth inning, his family joined them, and he thanked the fans who listened through the years.
“I love you all and I always will,” Harrelson said, in tears.
And after Matt Davidson struck out for the White Sox to end the game, Harrelson gave one of his signature calls.
“And this ballgame is ovah,” Harrelson said, adding, “I’ve enjoyed this game very much and I’ve loved it. And I will never forget it.”