Hawk Harrelson

Frank Thomas joins White Sox star-studded sendoff for Hawk Harrelson and says 'you've got to see the Hawk Walk'

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AP

Frank Thomas joins White Sox star-studded sendoff for Hawk Harrelson and says 'you've got to see the Hawk Walk'

The star-studded Hawk Harrelson sendoff added the greatest hitter in White Sox history Sunday.

Frank Thomas spent a day in the booth with the legendary broadcaster, who’s in his final year as the voice of the South Siders, and he took some time before the game to reflect on what Harrelson meant to him during his playing days.

You might not think a broadcaster would have too much impact on a Hall-of-Fame career, but this is the man who dubbed Thomas “The Big Hurt.” And, as Thomas recalled, he did a lot more than that.

“This man put a nickname on me that pretty much made who I was over the years,” Thomas said. “Hawk and I have always had a great relationship. At times, (like a) father-son (relationship) because baseball is a lonely sport sometimes. When you’re doing well, everybody wants to talk to you. When you’re not doing well, no one has answers. Hawk always had answers.

“When I went through a little struggle at times, he always would pull me to the side and say, ‘I want you to do something here, something there, try this and that.’ Just something to key off of. Pretty much it worked, a lot. I was grateful for that.”

Harrelson has obviously loomed large as a presence for this organization for decades, in a variety of roles. As another towering figure in South Side baseball history, Thomas knows how much he’s meant to the team, the fans and the players — and he echoed some other former White Sox players in saying that Harrelson deserves to join him in Cooperstown.

“If you think about all his roles, from GM to Jerry (Reinsdorf)’s right-hand guy to broadcasting for so many years, watching the game on a day-to-day basis, most people don't see after the game, plane flights and everything. Hawk was always one of the guys,” Thomas said. “We’d have a beer, guys were struggling, whatever, he’d sit down by those guys and say hello and talk to them and tell them what he sees and it really helped.

“Having him around and being that broadcaster he is, he’s definitely a Hall-of-Fame broadcaster. Hopefully he will get to the Hall of Fame soon because he deserves it. His calls are one of a kind, and when you get people across the country making those same calls, it tells you something about the success you’ve had as a broadcaster. I’m happy to be here on one of his final broadcasts.”

White Sox fans have long lists of Hawk-isms and Hawk moments, enough to sustain comedic impressions for the rest of time, and Thomas is no exception.

One of his favorite Hawk moments? The “Hawk Walk.”

The Hawk Walk?

“I’ve got a lot of Hawk stories,” Thomas said. “I think watching him play golf and watching him do the Hawk Walk, that’s something special. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it. You’ve got to see the Hawk Walk. It changed my life.

“He hit a ball 275 (yards), scalding hot, right down the middle. He just broke it down. Just got his little neck thing (going) and he just starts walking like a peacock. Calls it the Hawk Walk. That’s something special.”

Can we get that for Hawk Day on Sept. 2? Mercy.

Frank Thomas, Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski to join Hawk Harrelson as 'guest broadcasters' in sendoff season

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AP

Frank Thomas, Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski to join Hawk Harrelson as 'guest broadcasters' in sendoff season

This season's star-studded sendoff for legendary White Sox broadcaster Hawk Harrelson will continue this summer with some extra-special guests.

The team announced Friday that a trio of White Sox greats will each serve as a "special guest broadcaster" alongside Harrelson to celebrate his final year in the booth.

First up is Hall of Famer Frank Thomas, who will team with Harrelson during Sunday's game against the Detroit Tigers. He'll be followed by Paul Konerko, who will join Harrelson during the Aug. 19 game against the Kansas City Royals. And, in a much-anticipated pairing, A.J. Pierzynski will share the booth with Harrelson as the White Sox celebrate Hawk Day on Sept. 2 against the Boston Red Sox.

Additionally, the team announced a new Harrelson-inspired promotional giveaway item that is sure to go over as well as the Hawk Harrelson alarm clock and the Hawk Harrelson bobblehead: the Hawk Harrelson nesting doll, which will feature three different Hawks from throughout his decades-long career in baseball.

Mercy, indeed.

Will A.J. Pierzynski be a big league manager someday? If that happens, he wants to be like Joe Maddon

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AP

Will A.J. Pierzynski be a big league manager someday? If that happens, he wants to be like Joe Maddon

Folks on the South Side generally don’t like it when that team up north gets brought up in a positive light. But don’t get mad at the messenger. Get mad at the guy who once got a Cubs catcher to punch him in the face.

A.J. Pierzynski was back at Guaranteed Rate Field for Thursday’s home opener, and he was lobbed a question (multiple ones, actually) about managing and what kind of skipper he would be. He named a couple of guys he’d like to emulate — including Cubs manager Joe Maddon.

“If I get to a point where I’m ever given the opportunity to do that, you want to try to be a players’ guy, that’s the biggest thing,” Pierzynski said. “You’ve got to have the players trust you. You look at Maddon, different guys that are very successful, (Houston Astros manager A.J.) Hinch and Maddon and those guys, they have the players’ ear, they have the players’ trust.

“The No. 1 job, I truly believe, to be a good manager, especially in today’s world, you’ve got to have the players believe that no matter where you put them or how you put them in and what situation, they’re going to succeed. You’ve got to have communication with them. All you guys who covered me know that I was a guy that if there was a problem I’d go right up to people. That’s the biggest thing is have an open door, let the players have a little bit of say, give them structure but also let them have a say and be able to communicate with them so they know where they stand.”

Being like Maddon isn’t a bad thing, of course. The guy’s got a World Series ring, taken two teams to the Fall Classic and is a period of impressive success with the Cubs, who have advanced to the National League Championship Series in each of his three seasons on the North Side. And his unique managerial style is lauded around the game. Maddon’s relationship with his players, per Pierzynski is something worth emulating.

And Pierzynski wasn’t the only one with kind words about the Cubs’ manager. Hawk Harrelson, starting his last season in the White Sox booth, had good things to say about the skipper whose home park Harrelson has vowed never to set foot in again.

“We’re lucky because in my opinion we have two of the best managers in the game in this city,” Harrelson said. “I’m one of Joe’s biggest fans, and after watching Rick Renteria, I’m one of his biggest fans. He’s the right man in the right place.”

Surely, Harrelson would like to see his good buddy Pierzynski have a more successful managerial career than even Maddon.

“A.J., whatever he wants to do in the game, he’ll be successful in it. He’s always proven that,” Harrelson said. “It’s a different game today than when I played, there’s no question about that. And handling players today is the most important thing. The chemistry has never been bigger than it is today because you’ve got so many different aspects. You’ve got the analytics and the sabremetrics, you’ve got all this other stuff coming in. When he came up, he didn’t have that.”

Pierzynski’s time might eventually come, with recently retired big leaguers the new trend when it comes to skippers. And new New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone provides a very recent example of pulling a skipper from the broadcasting ranks.

If and when the times comes for Pierzynski to sit in the manager’s chair, he can count on having a big fan in Harrelson, who might have to jump his longtime friend above Maddon and Renteria on his list of favorite skippers in baseball.