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MLB Network will air The Colorful Life Of Ken Harrelson, a one-hour documentary on the life and times of the Sox play-by-play man, this Thursday at 6 p.m. CST. Ahead of its premiere, the Beachwood Bureau Of Unofficial Sneak Peeks is proud to share some of the highlights.
Hawk On Sabermetrics: "If there is a statistic for flimflam and gobbledygook, then these guys have been leading the league in it since day one, because if my five decades in the game have taught me one thing it's that baseball is not a game that can be measured and quantified, and the idea that it can is just b.s."
Hawk On Golf: "I always say my short game is pretty good. There was a fellow who disagreed with me once, and I think his family's still waiting for him to come home."
Hawk On Pitching: "I don't care who you are, you have got to be able to pitch your way past the teams that are trying to make you not lose the game of winning. That's why there's that number in the W column for pitchers. It's for wins."
Hawk On The Fine Art Of Defense: "Your defense is really only as good as your pitching, and in my five decades in the game that has grown truer every single year."
Hawk On Power Hitters: "For my money, Joe Borchard was - and still is - the best pure power hitter I have ever seen."
Hawk On Ron Schueler: "Ron was easily the best general manager to ever oversee a team's operations. Bar none."
Hawk On Kenny Williams: "Kenny was easily the best general manager to ever oversee a team's operations. Bar none."
Hawk On Rick Hahn: "Rick is easily the best general manager to ever oversee a team's operations. Bar none."
Hawk On Film: "You know, there are some movies where you see them and you think 'By golly, that could be our team right there.' I remember watching Pride Of The Yankees on a road trip once with a young Dan Pasqua, and he told me, he said 'Hawk, I want to be as good as Lou Gehrig.' Well that right there, that to me was how I knew that was a special young player, because if you give me a player who knows the game, who understands what it means to be a Gehrig, or a Willie Mays, or a Yaz, or a Steve Sax, one of the great all-time infielders, or anyone else for that matter, that says to me that you are dealing with a baseball player who is thinking not just about the at-bat or the inning or even the W, but really at their place in this beautiful game of baseball. And this was Dan Pasqua, he wasn't more than 19-years-old at the time telling me that, which historically has been the age where a baseball player really becomes the baseball player you think he's gonna be, and I knew right then, I said to myself I said 'Hawk, this is the best pure power hitter I have ever seen.'"
Hawk On Literature: "To this day, I still have yet to read Billy Beane's book, and I don't intend to either, because it's not going to tell me anything that I can't be told by the game being played right there on the field or by the number of World Series rings on my fingers."
Hawk On Batting: "I was fortunate, in that I played in an era where a single was treated the same as a triple."
Hawk On Umpiring: "Umpiring, to me, it's there to keep the game from not being about two teams playing the same sport but about keeping the game of baseball beautiful, and that's what so many of these umps just aren't doing any more. I remember back when I was with the Washington Senators, I had a teammate, a catcher by the name of Bob Chance, 'Take A Chance' Chance we called him, and he put it best when he said 'Ken,' he said 'Ken, there's two guys behind home plate, and only one of us is the catcher.' And that right there, that to me was the whole idea, the whole essence of what these umpires ought to be doing, not yelling at players for throwing inside or warning managers not to have their guys sliding spikes up or throwing behind guys or whatever these players are gonna do, because you have got to let the games be played. Nowadays, guy throws in, plunks a guy or two, maybe gives a guy a few days off with a fastball up and in, he's gonna find himself out of the game, and it's just the way the game is played now, especially with all these specialized bullpens, and some of these umps just have a problem with that, with the way our guys are running this organization, with the team Kenny and now Rick have put together. I think we've seen that time and again, based on how these games have been called and what pitches our guys aren't getting, which to me is a shame because it puts the focus away from those 90 feet and right back there into the batter's box - which is where the batter stands, as it has been for my five decades in the game."
Hawk Joins The Band: Following his release from the Kansas City Athletics in 1967, and prior to joining the Boston Red Sox, Harrelson briefly worked security for The Who on their tour supporting Herman's Hermits. "With the exception of a golf trip I took in 1974 with Ned Martin and Carl Yastrzemski," Hawk later recalled, "those were probably the best six days of my life."
Hawk Writes The Book: In 1979, Knopf Publishing commissioned a Harrelson autobiography. Sources close to the project say the book was delivered on time, but deemed "too abstract" for the reading public of the day. The manuscript was ultimately shelved, though pieces of it would later be adapted into the movies Blue Velvet and Predator 2, while its working title would be used in tribute by indie rock band Yo La Tengo for their 2006 LP I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass.
Hawk Gets '86'd: The entire starting lineup from Hawk's brief but magical tenure as general manager reunites - for the first time since his expertly-assembled team and staff defeated the Mets in the 1986 World Series - to reflect on how his vision for the team, and his view of the sport, changed both fans and franchise alike forever. And, it should go without saying, for the better.
Hawk Talk: Fans and friends discuss their favorites among Harrelson's many colorful sayings and catchphrases, such as "can o' corn," "put it on the board," and "63 seconds of sad, petulant silence."
Hawk's Hardware: An overview of Harrelson's numerous awards, including five local Emmys, two Illinois Sportscaster of the Year awards, and a special Lifetime Achievement Award for "Worst Broadcaster Ever."
Andrew Reilly is a former writer of the Beachwood's White Sox Report. He welcomes your comments.