Ken Harrelson has been selected the 2020 winner of the Ford Frick Award which recognizes excellence in baseball broadcasting. Harrelson, now retired, was a broadcaster for 42 years, chiefly with the Chicago White Sox whose games he called on television for 34 seasons. Earlier in his broadcast career, Harrelson called games for the Red Sox and Yankees.
Tim Mead, President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum said, “Ken Harrelson created a bond between the White Sox and their fans with his unabashed love of South Side Chicago baseball. Each time he stepped into the booth, ‘Hawk’ called the game with the passion of a fan and the knowledge of an MLB All-Star. As the narrator for some of the greatest moments in White Sox history, including the franchise’s 2005 World Series championship, Ken’s voice will echo for all time throughout the Windy City.”
The Frick Award is in the process of its second three year cycle honoring pioneers, network baseball voices and team announcers. The nominees for the 2020 award represented the team class. The 2021 class will be network voices and in 2022 the Frick will honot the game’s pioneer announcers.
The final ballot this voting year featured these broadcasters on the ballot: Joe Castiglione, Jacques Doucet, Tom Hamilton, Pat Hughes, Ned Martin, Mike Shannon, Dewayne Staats and Harrelson. The Hall does not reveal the vote count.
For 34 years, Hawk, the Sox and the South Side were inseparable. If Bob Elson, ‘The Commander,’ was synonymous with the team’s post war years, Ken Harrelson, ‘The Hawk’ is unforgettably linked with the club’s past three decades and more.
The 15-member Frick Award voting electorate, comprised of the 11 living recipients and four broadcast historians/columnists, includes Frick honorees Marty Brennaman, Bob Costas, Jaime Jarrín, Tony Kubek, Tim McCarver, Denny Matthews, Jon Miller, Eric Nadel, Vin Scully, Bob Uecker and Dave Van Horne, and historians/columnists David J. Halberstam (historian), Barry Horn (Dallas Morning News), Ted Patterson (historian) and Curt Smith (historian).
The list of eight Frick Award finalists was constructed by a subcommittee of the electorate that included Costas, Matthews, Nadel, Smith and Van Horne. The Ford C. Frick Award is voted upon annually and is named in memory of the sportswriter, radio broadcaster, National League president and baseball commissioner. Frick was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1970.
Harrelson was asked today what he picked up working with other broadcasters through the years. “Dick Stockton was a rookie baseball announcer in Boston but an established pro when we worked together. I learned from Dick. I really enjoyed working with Don Drysdale in Chicago. We argued a lot and almost got into it. But I loved him.”
Hawk also talked about advise that he got from two broadcast legends, Curt Gowdy and Howard Cosell. They told him that it’s impossible to please everyone. That advise was particularly useful to Harrelson in Chicago, a city whose fans are split among the Cubs and White Sox.
Harrelson will be honored as part of the Hall of Fame ceremonies next July.
I had an opportunity to interview Harrelson this past summer. It was a two-part series. Links here: