Sunday, February 21, 2010

#479 Ken Harrelson

#479 Ken Harrelson
That's right, it's a mighty young "Hawk"! One look at his beak, and you can see how Ken got his nickname.

Fun facts about Ken Harrelson:

-Ken was born in Woodruff, SC, and was a four-sport athlete in high school (baseball, basketball, football, and golf). He signed with the Athletics in 1959.

-He debuted with Kansas City in June of 1963, and singled off of 283-game winner Jim Kaat for his first career hit.

-Hit 23 homers in 1965, his first full season in the majors. Though he hit only .238, he walked 66 times to add to his value.

-Was traded to the Senators in mid-1966, but the A's brought him back a year later. His second stint with K.C. lasted only two-and-a-half months; he was released for calling owner Charlie Finley a "menace to baseball" after Finley fired manager Alvin Dark.

-The Red Sox picked up Harrelson for the stretch drive in 1967, but he struggled in the World Series, eking out a single hit in four games.

-The following year was Hawk's greatest, as he hit .275 and led Boston with 35 home runs. He also led the club and the league with 109 RBI. His efforts were good for a spot on the All-Star team and a third-place finish in MVP voting. He was also named A.L. Comeback Player of the Year.

-An early-season trade to the Indians in 1969 led Ken to consider retirement before commissioner Bowie Kuhn intervened. He finished the year with 30 home runs, 27 of them with Cleveland to tie for the team lead. He also walked 99 times.

-A broken leg in 1970 shortened his career, as he retired midway through the following season to pursue a pro golf career. While he was still active in baseball, Harrelson often wore a golf glove while batting and is credited with popularizing the use of batting gloves. In parts of nine major league seasons he hit .239 with 131 home runs and 421 RBI.

-Though best known these days as a TV announcer, Hawk had a short and ill-advised run as the White Sox GM in 1985-1986. His legacy included the firing of manager Tony La Russa and assistant GM Dave Dombrowski, as well as the trading of prospect Bobby Bonilla. All three of course went on to greater success with other teams.

-Ken has gained attention (both positive and negative) as an outspoken, enthusiastic, and unabashedly partial TV announcer. He has worked with the Red Sox, Yankees, and White Sox, and has been with the Pale Hose for several stints totaling a few decades. He's quick with a catchphrase, including "he gone", "grab some bench", and "you can put it on the board, YES!".
#479 Ken Harrelson (back)


  1. Must be a spring training shot. I don't think the A's ever wore those all black hats with vest jerseys.

  2. Bob - As near as I can tell, you're right. How odd.

  3. I only noticed because I am used to seeing the yellow/green uni combo for the A's in this set.
    I finally remembered that Dressed to the Nines (part of the H-O-F website) has a uni database. I looked at KC through the 60's and found this.
    I know that that site has some errors but I think they are right in this instance. It is odd that the card would show Hawk wearing this. But the background looks 'spring-ish' and maybe he just grabbed the wrong hat. They wore the all black hat but not with that jersey. I'll go ask Paul Lukas.

  4. The Tommie Reynolds card from '65 Topps (#333) has him in the same hat. Can't tell if he has the vest uniform on, but I'd guess he does. Appears to have been taken in Bradenton, Florida. Also, this '64 Topps Athletics rookie card shows the same combo: