By Cat Garcia
“Every opening day is different except for one thing,” Ken “The Hawk” Harrelson told the media on Thursday afternoon. “The adrenaline. You’ve got anticipation, which is good, you’ve got expectation sometimes, which is bad. And you have to sort that out as a fan of the game and as a player and as everybody else.”
If anyone knows anything about anticipation and expectation, after spending 42 seasons in the booth, it’s Harrelson. Harrelson met with the media for his final home opener of his broadcasting career, with his comrade A.J. Pierzynski by his side.
The pair started off by dropping the news that they will be broadcasting a White Sox game together later in the season. “Probably August.” Pierzynski said. “I think my schedule and his schedule, he’s way busier than I am, so it’s hard for me to match his busy schedule, but we’re looking at August.”
Hawk will be fondly remembered as the voice of the White Sox by fans, and be sorely missed by many — including Pierzynski himself.
“I turn on games and I know he’s not going to do it, but I turn it on, Jason’s doing great, Stone is great, but for some reason when I turn on a White Sox game it hurts my heart a little bit not to hear his voice,” Pierzynski said. “It still gets to me every time because it’s so different.”
“He genuinely cared about the White Sox every game,” Pierzynski continued. “That’s the thing you try to portray. If you really do care about the game, you care about what’s happening and you care about when guys do it right. That was a big thing for me always was doing it right, playing it right. Always on the broadcast, you can feel that when you watch.”
Though Pierzynski has had his fair share of days spent in the broadcasting booth and behind the camera with his newest gig as an analyst for Fox Sports, that doesn’t seem to be the general consensus of Pierzynski’s permanent future.
It wasn’t a question of will Pierzynski become a Major League manager in the future, but already assuming he will be, the question was what type of manager will he be? “You want to try to be a player’s guy, that’s the biggest thing,” Pierzynski said when asked about his managerial aspirations. “You’ve got to have the players trust you. You look at [Joe] Maddon, different guys that are very successful, [A.J.] Hinch and Maddon and those guys, they have the players’ ear, they have the players’ trust. The No. 1 job, I truly believe, to be a good manager, especially in today’s world, you’ve got to have the players believe that no matter where you put them or how you put them in and what situation, they’re going to succeed. You’ve got to have communication with them.”
Harrelson is under the impression that the managers on both sides of town in Chicago are here to stay though, so Pierzynski will have to wait a while if his hopes are to land in the Windy City. Harrelson couldn’t be more excited about this city’s future in baseball, though. “We’re lucky because in my opinion we have two of the best managers in the game in this city,” Harrelson said. “I’m one of Joe’s biggest fans, and after watching Rick Renteria, I’m one of his biggest fans. He’s the right man in the right place. And with the Latin impact in this game — almost 40 percent of the players, now — and last year there was only one Latin manager in the game and we had him right here with the White Sox. And he’s going to be here a long time, he’s going to win with this ball club.
“I think for the next decade, next 10 years, the fans of Chicago may have a chance to have more fun than they’ve ever had in a 10-year span, in history,” Harrelson continued. “Because both of these teams, our team in a year or two, going to be a monster. The Cubs are going to be good, they’re not going anywhere. So baseball fans in Chicago have to be thrilled with what’s going on in this city.”
Sit tight Sox fans, not only will you have one last year of Hawk in the booth, but you’ll get to hear him broadcast a game with his his beloved friend of nearly 25 years by his side, A.J. Pierzynski. And perhaps someday, you’ll see Pierzynski back in the dugout. But this time, he’ll be holding the lineup card.