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.