Hawk Harrelson Night

Across the baseball world, there are some consistencies in how people conceive of the White Sox:  they think that Frank Thomas was fairly cool, that Mark Buehrle's perfect game was a nice little underdog story, that the 2005 World Series was pretty much unwatchably boring, that these two incidents were the only times the White Sox have been nationally relevant since they got rid of Frank Thomas, and that Hawk Harrelson is the most annoying announcer in the history of time.

Growing up with Harrelson as my hometown announcer, I was blissfully unaware of this for a surprisingly long period of time.  Imagine my surprise to find out that 'ducksnorts' are most often referred to as 'flares' or 'loopers', what Hawk referred to as a 'can of corn' would usually be referred to as a 'fly ball out', Hawk exclamations that a White Sox hitter "just missed it" were for plays that are best described as 'fly ball outs', and that 'hang wiff-ems' were also just 'fly ball outs'.  Like many younger White Sox fans these days, most of the things that Hawk is railed against for doing wrong were ingrained in me as the normal things a hometown broadcaster does.     

Hawk is often cited as being the biggest 'homer' in announcing, which initially seemed like a preposterous argument to me because all local announcers show favoritism.  However, whereas most broadcasters keep their partiality under a veil of professionalism and stoicism, Hawk has never hid his passion, letting his love for the White Sox permeate through every element of calling the game be it his reaction to scoring plays, his interpretation of umpires, or his proclivity to curse out sportswriters on air.  For Sox fans, this has always served to further endear Hawk as one of them; simply a fan given a microphone with a slight (very slight) air of professional superiority.  For outsiders, this has always served to make Sox local broadcasts into an incoherent mess of nonsensical jabbering, replete with indecipherable sayings and lots of yelling.

The White Sox take great pride in Hawk Harrelson, as well they should.  He's a local treasure, and public figures with such undying devotion to not only the team, but the organization, don't come around very often.  Hawk has a visceral connection to most White Sox fans, and to honor him reminds the fan base what they cherish about the ballclub.  However, when the Sox honor Hawk, they'd be wise to remember that they also celebrate a feature of their team culture that isolates them in many ways from the rest of the national stage, someone who incidentally makes it easier to write the team off as a fringe population out in the wilderness of Chicago's South Side.  As a Sox fan, I know I like to watch highlights online of games I haven't seen just to hear Hawk go ballistic at key moments, but I also know that the White Sox will never earn the respect of others on the basis of their televised broadcasts.  That's ok though; they probably shouldn't care.  

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