It comes as no surprise to followers of this blog (and thanks btw!) that I was not the biggest Hawk Harrelson fan. He was more than a homer, he was a company man. He hinted at conspiracy theories about the umpires having it out for the White Sox, perhaps the first conspiracy to keep a 90 loss team down. Toward the end of his career he seemed to be clutching at straws to maintain his station as the purveyor of White Sox culture and fandom. How many times did he try and give Jose Abreu a Cuban themed nickname? His silence during a White Sox loss (and there have been a lot of them in the last ten years) was almost as legendary as his home run and strikeout calls. I believe his record for dead air was 45 seconds which is an eternity on live television. I have openly pined for (and received!) a professional broadcaster to take over in the White Sox booth.
Yet there I was last night, watching a game that meant nothing, already knowing the final score, simply to listen to Hawk one last time. It was kind of like watching a musician on a final tour. All the hits were covered, "He Gone!" "Gas!" "Stretch!" "Can of Corn." We didn't get the home run call because the White Sox didn't get one over the fence. I wonder if Len Casper over on the other call did an homage? Probably not. For much of the game, Hawk wasn't even calling the game, but reminiscing about his time in baseball. As the game progressed, Hawk realized the meaning of the moment. When he called the final out, the emotion was almost too real.
Watching the closing of the broadcast, seeing both the White Sox and Cubs salute Hawk, I felt genuine affection and respect for Hawk. He managed to stay with the same team for 30 plus years and did it in his own way. The most common lament arising from Hawk's retirement was that there will never be another broadcaster like him. Of that I have no doubt. As he cried, wept really, it was apparent Hawk truly loved what he did, who he did it for, and where he did it. As a White Sox fan, it's hard not to appreciate that level of love and commitment. I wish nothing but the best for Hawk. I hope he gets to enjoy his grandchildren for a long time in retirement. I wouldn't even mind if Jason Benetti took over "He Gone!" Take care and so long Hawk.