Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, the longtime voice of the Chicago White Sox best known for his unabashed and passionate love of all things South Side baseball, announced Wednesday that he’ll be retiring from the booth following the 2018 season.
Harrelson will primarily call Sunday home games in 2018, the White Sox said. He currently serves as the primary announcer for the club’s road contests.
The 75-year-old Harrelson has called White Sox games since 1990, his second tenure with the club following his initial stint from 1982-85. In 1986, he left the booth and became White Sox general manager for one ill-fated season, before spending two years calling Yankees games and then returning to Chicago.
While his extreme “homer” style of broadcasting often irritates opposing fans, it’s that unbridled enthusiasm for White Sox baseball that has made him a beloved figure on the South Side of Chicago. His trademark home run call of “You can put it on the board … YES!” – complete with his distinctive South Carolina twang – remains one of the most iconic calls in the sport.
Harrelson’s contract with the White Sox runs through the 2020 season. Should he complete the final two years of his deal with the club in another capacity, he’d join a select list of individuals who have been employed in professional baseball for eight decades. Others who achieved this distinction include Vin Scully and Don Zimmer.
Before he moved to the broadcast booth, Harrelson played nine seasons in the majors with four teams, and was most famous for his critical bench piece role on the 1967 “Impossible Dream” Boston Red Sox club that surprisingly won the AL pennant.
In conjunction with the announcement of Harrelson’s impending retirement, the White Sox also revealed that current home play-by-play voice Jason Benetti will become the primary broadcaster beginning next season. Benetti, a Chicago native who grew up a White Sox fan, is currently in his second season calling the team’s games.