An excerpt from my latest column for the Chicago Tribune:
Chuck Swirsky has been through just about everything during his long broadcast career. Still, his mind was racing after being confronted with a unique set of challenges Monday in calling the White Sox-Toronto game, his first as a fill-in for Ken Harrelson during the current 11-game road trip.
It was Swirsky’s first baseball game on play-by-play in 36 years. Meticulous about preparation, the radio voice of the Bulls still is cramming to learn about the Sox and their opponents. He then had to deal with a confusing non-double play situation that led to Toronto scoring four runs in the first inning, effectively ending the game for the listless Sox.
And above everything else, Swirsky felt the weight of sitting in Harrelson’s chair.
“There were a lot of moving parts, to say the least,” Swirsky said. “Hawk has huge shoes to fill.”
Swirsky wasn’t asked until Friday night if he could take over play-by-play duties for Harrelson. The team said Harrelson has to undergo a minor surgical procedure and will return to the booth when the Sox come home on June 5.
Swirsky actually was in Toronto visiting his son when he got the request. He promptly drove through the night so he could attend Sox games Saturday and Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field.
“I took a deep breath when they asked me,” Swirsky said. “I thought it would be a great opportunity and challenge.”