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Hawk Harrelson: White Sox forced me to retire from broadcast booth

Ken “Hawk” Harrelson didn’t exactly leave the White Sox television broadcast on good terms.

The 81-year-old retired after the 2018 season, though as he tells it now, it wasn’t really his choice.

“I didn’t retire. I got retired,” Harrelson said on the “Foul Territory” podcast with Scott Braun and former White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski. “I got fired, is what it boils down to. I’m sure they will deny that, but what led up to that and everything else is going to be interesting.”

In 2016, the White Sox hired Jason Benetti to call home games while Harrelson handled road broadcasts.

At the time, Harrelson declared he wanted to work for another four years and accomplish a goal of working in baseball over eight decades.

Instead, his time was cut back as the team transitioned to Benetti, his eventual successor.

Chicago White Sox broadcaster Ken "Hawk" Harrelson acknowledges the fans and White Sox players during the 7th inning stretch of his final game as the television play-by-play voice of the White Sox on September 23, 2018 at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, Illinois.
Getty Images
Hawk Harrelson claims he was forced to retire by the White Sox.
Foul Territory podcast

The 2020 Frick Award winner, given to a brocaster for “major contributions to baseball,” teased an upcoming book that would delve further into his side of the story.

Harrelson played 900 games over a nine-year MLB career, beginning with the Kansas City Athletics in 1963.

He also spent time with the Washington Senators and Boston Red Sox before joining the Cleveland Indians in 1969.

His time in the majors ended in 1971.

Midway through the season, he retired to pursue a professional golf career — four years before he heading into the Red Sox broadcast booth.

Harrelson became a member of the White Sox broadcast in 1982 before becoming the club’s executive vice president of baseball operations.

He was back in the booth from 1977-78, doing play-by-play for the Yankees on SportsChannel New York and returned to the White Sox in 1990.