Ken Harrelson named 2020 Ford C. Frick Award winner
(COOPERSTOWN, NY) – Ken Harrelson, who became a Chicago icon while calling White Sox games for 33 of his 42 years behind the mic, has been selected as the 2020 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually for excellence in broadcasting by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Harrelson will be recognized during the Hall of Fame Awards Presentation on Saturday, July 25, as part of Hall of Fame Weekend 2020. Harrelson becomes the 44th winner of the Frick Award, as he earned the highest point total in a vote conducted by the Hall of Fame’s 15-member Frick Award Committee.
The final ballot featured broadcasters whose main contributions were realized as team announcers, identified as the Current Major League Markets ballot. The eight finalists were: Joe Castiglione, Jacques Doucet, Tom Hamilton, Pat Hughes, Ned Martin, Mike Shannon, Dewayne Staats and Harrelson.
“Ken Harrelson created a bond between the White Sox and their fans with his unabashed love of South Side Chicago baseball,” said Tim Mead, President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. “Each time he stepped into the booth, ‘Hawk’ called the game with the passion of a fan and the knowledge of an MLB All-Star. As the narrator for some of the greatest moments in White Sox history, including the franchise’s 2005 World Series championship, Ken’s voice will echo for all time throughout the Windy City.”
Born Sept. 4, 1941, in Woodruff, S.C., and raised in Savannah, Ga., Harrelson was a star amateur athlete in several sports before signing with the Kansas City Athletics in 1959 following a heated bidding war. After stellar seasons in the minor leagues in 1961 and 1962, Harrelson debuted with the Athletics midway through the 1963 campaign. With Kansas City, he helped popularize the batting glove, which quickly became standard issue for most big leaguers.
A series of deals in the 1967 season brought Harrelson to Boston, where he helped the “Impossible Dream” Red Sox win the American League pennant. In 1968, Harrelson had his best season, hitting 35 home runs to go with an AL-best 109 RBI during the Year of the Pitcher. As Boston’s everyday right fielder, Harrelson was named to the AL All-Star team and finished third in the league’s Most Valuable Player voting.
A broken leg in Spring Training of 1970 hastened the end of his playing career, and, after a stint as a pro golfer, Harrelson turned to broadcasting. He called games on television and radio for the Red Sox from 1975-81, then moved to the White Sox in 1982. He was hired as the White Sox’s general manager following the 1985 campaign, and after one season in the front office returned to the broadcast booth with the Yankees in 1987. Harrelson rejoined the White Sox’s booth in 1989, remaining with the team for the next three decades before retiring after the 2018 season.
A five-time Emmy Award winner, Harrelson’s trademark calls of “You can put it on the board…Yes!” and “Mercy!” became the nightly soundtrack for multiple generations of White Sox fans.
The 15-member Frick Award voting electorate, comprised of the 11 living recipients and four broadcast historians/columnists, includes Frick honorees Marty Brennaman, Bob Costas, Jaime Jarrín, Tony Kubek, Tim McCarver, Denny Matthews, Jon Miller, Eric Nadel, Vin Scully, Bob Uecker and Dave Van Horne, and historians/columnists David J. Halberstam (historian), Barry Horn (Dallas Morning News), Ted Patterson (historian) and Curt Smith (historian).
The list of eight Frick Award finalists was constructed by a subcommittee of the electorate that included Costas, Matthews, Nadel, Smith and Van Horne. The Ford C. Frick Award is voted upon annually and is named in memory of the sportswriter, radio broadcaster, National League president and baseball commissioner. Frick was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1970. For a list of Frick Award winners, click here.
As established by the Board of Directors, criteria for selection is as follows: “Commitment to excellence, quality of broadcasting abilities, reverence within the game, popularity with fans, and recognition by peers.” To be considered, an active or retired broadcaster must have a minimum of 10 years of continuous major league broadcast service with a ball club, network, or a combination of the two.