Ken "Hawk" Harrelson’s 34th year in the Chicago White Sox broadcast booth next season will be his last, the organization announced Wednesday.
Harrelson will work a 20-game schedule of primarily Sunday home games during the 2018 season, after which he will step down to serve as a White Sox ambassador throughout the 2019 season.
Also on Wednesday the White Sox announced a multiyear agreement with Jason Benetti to expand his role as primary play-by-play voice. Benetti joined the broadcast team in 2016.
"It has been an amazing honor for me to deliver White Sox baseball to generations of fans," Harrelson said in a statement. "I cannot thank the fans of Chicago, the White Sox and Jerry Reinsdorf enough for allowing me this fantastic career and for agreeing to my role for the 2018 season and beyond. I am proud to have been involved in this great game of baseball as a player, general manager and broadcaster, and I have always wanted to reach the eight-decade mark in this game, which I hope to do in 2019 as an ambassador for the White Sox.
“It's never work when you come to a ballpark each day, and I have loved and appreciated every minute I have experienced in this great game."
Here is the text of the White Sox press release:
White Sox announce final season as broadcaster for legendary Ken "Hawk" Harrelson in 2018
Jason Benetti signs multiyear agreement to handle play-by-play duties in 2018 and beyond
The Chicago White Sox today announced that Ken "Hawk" Harrelson, the club's iconic television play-by-play announcer on CSN Chicago and WGN-TV, will return for his 34th and final year in the broadcast booth in 2018 with a schedule of primarily Sunday home games. The White Sox also announced a multiyear agreement with Jason Benetti, who joined the White Sox television broadcast team in 2016, to continue as the primary play-by-play voice for the White Sox with an expanded role in the booth.
A five-time Emmy Award winner, three-time Ford Frick Award nominee and two-time Illinois Sportscaster of the Year, Harrelson will work a 20-game schedule during the 2018 season, including Sunday home games and other select contests. After stepping away from the booth, Harrelson will serve the organization as a White Sox ambassador throughout the 2019 season, marking the beginning of the eighth decade in baseball for Harrelson, who signed in 1959.
"Hawk has left a lasting imprint on the game of baseball across what will be an amazing career in the game," said Jerry Reinsdorf, White Sox Chairman. "His passion for the White Sox -- and for the game of baseball -- is apparent in every telecast he does. There have been only a handful of broadcasters who literally have re-written the dictionary of baseball terminology and nicknames. He became the famous voice of White Sox baseball, coining well-known phrases like 'You Can Put It On The Board' and colorful nicknames like 'The Big Hurt' that will be part of baseball culture forever. There will never be another personality in the booth quite like Hawk Harrelson."
"It has been an amazing honor for me to deliver White Sox baseball to generations of fans," Harrelson said. "I cannot thank the fans of Chicago, the White Sox and Jerry Reinsdorf enough for allowing me this fantastic career and for agreeing to my role for the 2018 season and beyond. I am proud to have been involved in this great game of baseball as a player, general manager and broadcaster, and I have always wanted to reach the eight-decade mark in this game, which I hope to do in 2019 as an ambassador for the White Sox. It's never work when you come to a ballpark each day, and I have loved and appreciated every minute I have experienced in this great game."
Benetti will handle expanded play-by-play duties during the 2018 season and serve as the exclusive play-by-play announcer beginning in the 2019 season. Benetti, a Chicago-area native who grew up as a White Sox fan in the Homewood-Flossmoor area, also plans to continue his duties as a national play-by-play announcer for ESPN in 2018, calling games for basketball, baseball, football and lacrosse.
"I cannot say enough about Hawk Harrelson, my partner Steve Stone and how helpful and welcoming they have been as I have transitioned into this role with the White Sox over the past two seasons," Benetti said. "As a kid growing up as a White Sox fan, it seemed a faraway dream that I would one day sit in a broadcast booth at Guaranteed Rate Field and call White Sox games. I continue to be amazed that my dreams came true. I greatly appreciate the fan response to my joining the broadcast team in 2016, and I look forward to joining Steve and our outstanding TV crew to deliver White Sox games to our fans for years to come."
Harrelson began his career in baseball on the field, playing nine seasons in the major leagues with the Kansas City Athletics (1963-66, '67), Washington Senators (1966-67), Boston Red Sox (1967-69) and Cleveland Indians (1969-71). He helped the Red Sox win the American League pennant in 1967 and enjoyed his finest season in 1968, when he hit 35 home runs with a major league-leading 109 RBI, finishing third in A.L. Most Valuable Player Award voting. In addition to his contributions to baseball's colorful vocabulary, Harrelson is credited with bringing the batting glove to the game. Following his baseball career, Harrelson played professional golf for more than three years, qualifying for and competing in the 1972 British Open.
His broadcasting career began with the Red Sox in 1975, and he joined White Sox broadcasts in 1982, teaming with Hall of Famer Don Drysdale. Harrelson became general manager of the White Sox in 1986, before joining New York Yankees broadcasts in 1987-88. From 1984-89, he served as a backup color commentator on NBC's Game of the Week. He returned to the White Sox broadcast booth in 1990.
Harrelson has been named a finalist for the 2007, 2014 and 2017 Ford Frick Awards, presented annually for major contributions to baseball broadcasting. During the 2011 season, the White Sox dedicated the broadcast area at Guaranteed Rate Field in his honor, naming it the "Hawk Harrelson Broadcast Level."
"We are very pleased to be able to assist Hawk with this transition, to help him achieve the incredible milestone of eight decades in the game and to have Jason Benetti expand his broadcasting role with our organization over the coming years," said Brooks Boyer, White Sox senior vice president of marketing. "Thanks to Hawk, White Sox fans have been entertained and educated about the game for the past three-plus decades, and we look forward to the future with Jason and Steve continuing that impressive tradition."
With his new schedule, Harrelson will spend more time with his wife, Aris, his children, Krista and Casey, and his three grandchildren, Nico, Alexander and Hank.