Ken Harrelson reaches out to umpire
After being reprimanded by commissioner Bud Selig, Chicago White Sox announcer Ken "Hawk" Harrelson said a tirade such as the one he unleashed on the air against umpire Mark Wegner won't happen again.
Harrelson said he called Wegner on Saturday and left a message telling him that he had overshot on his personal attack on the umpire's credentials to officiate major league baseball games.
"I felt bad about it to a degree after I sat down and thought about it," Harrelson said. "I called and left a message for him."
Hawk and Mr. Reinsdorf came into see me, and Hawk was very sincere with his comments about what he had said. He told me 'Joe, I would rather have a fist fight with you then go through what I have over the last few days.'” -- Joe West, president of the World Umpires Association
ESPNChicago.com reportedly earlier Saturday evening that Harrelson had apologized to Wegner. Harrelson clarified later to the website that he did not apologize.
Harrelson, accompanied by White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, also went to the umpire's room at US Cellular Field and spoke with Joe West, president of the World Umpires Association.
"Hawk and Mr. Reinsdorf came into see me, and Hawk was very sincere with his comments about what he had said," West said. "He told me 'Joe, I would rather have a fistfight with you then go through what I have over the last few days.'
"What Hawk did showed a lot of class, and we really appreciate that he called Mark as well. This is a good day for everyone in baseball."
Harrelson talked with Selig and Reinsdorf on Thursday.
"They just both (chewed me) out, which they should have," Harrelson said Friday on "Carmen, Jurko & Harry" on ESPN 1000. "I'm a big boy, and I'm a tough guy. I don't want to go through that again. I'd rather fight Rocky Marciano.
"It's done, it's over, I said what I said and we're going to move on from there. It's not going to happen again. I'm going to be the same guy but I just can't allow myself ... I had a headache that you can't believe for a day and a half. That's not good for me at my age."
Harrelson said Selig delivered a strong message by phone on Thursday.
"He said what he said and he said it in a very convincing way. ... Bud is a tough guy," Harrelson said. "People don't understand what a tough guy he is. I've known Bud for a long time, and he can get awful tough and he got awful tough (Thursday)."
Wegner ejected White Sox rookie pitcher Jose Quintana in the fourth inning of the White Sox's 4-3 victory on Wednesday over the Tampa Bay Rays for throwing a pitch behind Ben Zobrist. White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski was hit in the shoulder by the Rays' Alex Cobb in the third inning but no warnings were made. The quick ejection, followed by manager Robin Ventura getting tossed for protesting, set Harrelson off on a rant on the air.
"What are you doing? He threw him out of the ballgame. You've got to be bleepin' me!" Harrelson said after the ejection. "What in the hell are you doing? What are you doing Wegner? You got to be kidding me. That is so bad. That is absolutely brutal. That is unbelievable.
"I'll tell you what, they have got to start making guys be accountable. That is totally absurd. Here's an umpire in the American League that knows nothing about the game of baseball. They have got to do something about this. They have got some guys in this league that have no business umpiring. They have no business umpiring because they don't know what the game of baseball is about."
Sox captain Paul Konerko wasn't surprised by Harrelson's passionate outburst.
"Hawk is one of a kind. I think we all know that," Konerko said. "He played the game, so have a lot of announcers. Most of the time it's a play-by-play guy or the color guy, and Hawk is kind of both. Hawk is going to say what is on his mind usually. That's that. Obviously as players, we find a lot of the stuff comical, but it's good stuff to keep us occupied. But a lot of time he's right as well."
White Sox senior vice president of sales and marketing Brooks Boyer said an outburst such as Harrelson's wouldn't happen again.
"I could certainly be wrong but I think this was a good way for him to understand the importance of what's going on on the field," Boyer said. "I think, moving forward, those type of bursts and snaps will be limited if not eliminated."
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Boyer said Harrelson's passion for the White Sox is what has made him popular with the team's fans.
"I think even when he looks back at it, he realizes that he snapped," Boyer said. "It's one of the great things about Hawk is that he is a polarizing broadcaster. He's like Notre Dame, you love it or you don't. That's how he kind of fits on the radar. And when that day comes when Hawk hangs it up, I think the thing we will miss the most is the homerism of his calls and how much he cares about the White Sox."
ESPNChicago.com's Scott Powers contributed to this report.
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