On the eve of his final game as a part-time broadcaster, Jason Benetti can’t help but think of the influence Hawk Harrelson has had on his career.
Benetti, who replaces Harrelson as the full-time White Sox play-by-play man next season, will call his final regular season game of 2017 on Thursday night. The White Sox host the Los Angeles Angels on CSN Chicago at 7 p.m. The White Sox finish the season on the road and Harrelson, who will work a reduced schedule in 2018, is back in the booth for the final three games at Cleveland.
“I used the catchphrases for so long as a kid that when I first sat in a chair anywhere to do baseball I had to stop myself from saying things he said because they were his,” Benetti said. “That was the first person that shaped me doing this. There are moments, I even asked in the middle of a ball flying out last night, I said, ‘Did he get him again?’ about Parker Bridwell. ‘The answer is an emphatic yes.’ I said, Ooh. Can I say yes? It didn’t have the prelude, but yeah. He’s done so much with the vocabulary that you think about it all the time.”
Hired before the 2016 season, Benetti looks forward to working a full slate of games in 2018. He’s expected to call around 140-plus games while Harrelson will be behind the mic for 20. Unlike this season, Benetti will travel on the road full time with the exception of a few series.
The past two seasons, Benetti has watched along from home or listened whenever the White Sox have been away. He said that has been a bit of a challenge after working as a full-time broadcaster since 2005.
“I’m used to doing them all,” Benetti said. “I watch the games whenever I can. Whenever I’m not on the air I watch the games or listen to the games. Always, no question about it, always fill out my scorebook. My scorebook has the whole season in it regardless. So either I’ll go back on game day and fill it out or I’ll fill it out live, but I’m reading the clips. That’s what I do. It’s a part of my morning.”
Harrelson’s signature calls have always been a big part of Benetti’s life as the Homewood-Flossmoor product grew up a White Sox fan. He’s not at all surprised to see the impact Harrelson has had carry over to social media. Both the sons of Todd Frazier and Yoan Moncada have been recorded mimicking Harrelson’s “Yesssss” home run call.
“That’s thousands upon thousands upon thousands of kids in Chicagoland,” Benetti said. “That’s just what you grow up with in Chicago. Even if you’re a fan of the other team in Chicago, you know Hawk and you know his catchphrases. Even if you say you don’t really like them, you use them. And if you love him, you use them.”