Stone clarifies plans: He’s staying with White Sox and Harrelson

Steve Stone plans to be back with Ken Harrelson and the White Sox next year. Like a marriage, for better or worse.

Less than a week after his comments about Harrelson sparked speculation about his future, Stone clarified his plans Tuesday morning on the Mully and Hanley Show on WSCR-AM 670 in Chicago.

Stone said: ““My plans are very simple. I plan to stay with the Chicago White Sox through this contract and hopefully beyond. Regardless of what you might have read or heard or people speculated on or blogged (about) or anything else, I will be back. It’s 100 percent. Hopefully, as I said, for many years. In looking at it, this is, in my estimation, the best big city in the country.”

It all became an issue because of what Stone said last week on WSCR: “When you have any type of partner in any business, you’re going to have some periods where things are really good, some periods where they’re not so good, some periods where things are frustrating, some periods where they’re exhilarating. I think a baseball season is like that. I think late in the season, you just realize it’s a roller coaster, and it’s not just a roller coaster for the baseball team. It’s a roller coaster for all of us who follow it that closely on a daily basis.”

Stone must have decided it was worth another ride on the rollercoaster.







Are Harrelson-Stone breaking up? Stone talks candidly about relationship in Sox booth

My antenna was raised this morning when I saw a small item in the White Sox notebook by the Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales:

“Sox television announcer Steve Stone, who is in the midst of a multiyear contract, is expected to receive interest from other media outlets but would need permission to get out of his current pact.”

Hmmm, what’s that all about? I have covered team beats, and I know that item didn’t come out of nowhere.

Then WSCR-AM 670, the White Sox’s flagship station, played a clip of Stone as he signed off on their season finale Wednesday.

Stone said: “There are a lot of lessons to be learned, and one of them is that the clock is always ticking. You’ve got to enjoy what you do.”

Was that a dig at his partner Ken Harrelson? There was a long pause and Harrelson said, “Alright..”

Stone then appeared on the McNeil and Spiegel Show on SCR. He was frank about his relationship with Harrelson, which definitely appears to be strained at best. And he wasn’t definitive about whether he would be back with the Sox next year. Here are some of the highlights.

On returning to the Sox in 2013: I’m pretty sure I am, but you never know what next year will hold…(Harry Caray) used to say as you get older, time moves more quickly. You’d like to slow it down, but you can’t. You have to enjoy what you’re doing.

On working with Harrelson: When you have a partner in any business, you are going to have periods where some things are good and some not so good. Some periods where things are exhilarating and some when they are frustrating.

Hawk is the face of the franchise. The booth is named after him. He might be the ultimate fan. When things are not going so well, he gets grumpy. Grumpier than the normal person would get doing that particular job.

When things are going well, he’s absolutely ecstatic. For those of us who don’t have those phenomenal highs and exceptional lows, it becomes a bit difficult at times. But that’s the kind of person he is.

I understand the game of baseball. Some of the times when things didn’t go so well in the partnership were a direct result of how the team was doing at the time and how he felt stressed about this thing starting to slip away.

Do you want to be back with the Sox?: I want baseball and broadcasting to be a part of my life. (McNeil then pressed him for an answer).

I have a contract with the White Sox. They’ve been wonderful to me. I fully expect nothing will change.

Our job is really easy when things are going well. For 118 days, when the team was in first place, our job was easy. Our difficulty came when things get negative and the team didn’t perform the way it should or you expected. That’s the time when you have to go to the vaudeville act.


I’ve known Harrelson and Stone for a long time. Both men are very good at what they do. They also have significant egos and have a certain way of doing things.

Did that interview sound like someone who wants to return to the same situation in 2013? At the very least, both men will have to go through some couples counseling.

Stay tuned.

Here’s the podcast. The Stone segment comes at the 25-minute mark.



Explaining, defending Ken Harrelson

I’ve known Ken Harrelson for 26 years. Back in 1986, the Chicago Tribune dropped me without a parachute into the White Sox beat. I was 26-years-old and woefully inexperienced; the year before I actually covered the Illinois state high school badminton tournament.

To top things off, the Sox made Ken Harrelson their general manager. It proved to be a wild season, with Hawk eventually firing Tony La Russa. Yet through it all, I still have fond memories of working with Harrelson that year. There never was any BS with him and that definitely holds true today.

I’m saying all this because it helps explain why Harrelson went off like he did Wednesday in Tampa. The video has gone viral, and he even got some play on SportsCenter.

It is a quite a rant. Epic, even.

Yet this is what White Sox fans come to expect of Harrelson. In fact, this homerish approach even predates him. During the 1970s and early 80s, Harry Caray was blowing up people left and right while calling Sox games, and many of his targets were Sox players. Then it went over the top when Caray was joined by Jimmy Piersall, easily forming the most outrageous broadcast team of all time.

You think yesterday was crazy? Just check out some old clips from Harry and Jimmy.

Back to Harrelson, as I saw first-hand 26 years ago, you need to know he lives for this team, and he will do anything for its owner, Jerry Reinsdorf. He has more than 30 years invested in this franchise. The loyalty runs extremely deep.

It is all genuine with Harrelson in the booth. When the Sox lose, it’s hard to say who takes it tougher: Hawk or Sox GM Kenny Williams.

I tried to call Harrelson this morning, but he explained in a radio interview on WSCR-AM 670, he has decided to turn off his phone. However, don’t think for one minute he will back down from yesterday’s comments.

From WSCR’s site, which has audio of the entire interview:

“First of all, I still have a headache because I got so upset yesterday,” he said. “I took four Advil after that inning was over and then I had to take four more on the plane and then when I got home last night I had to take four more. Also, when I got up this morning, I had to take four more.”

As for the play, his stance hasn’t changed.

“We had two guys drilled, none of their guys got thrown at, none of their guys left their feet and then all the sudden we throw at Zobrist, which was below the belt about knee high behind him, and he throws Quintana out? Give me a break,” the broadcaster said.

ChicagoSide also ran an interview by Daniel Dorfman this morning on Harrelson’s 30 years in Chicago. It included this quote:

…On being a homer

HAWK:That to me is the greatest compliment that can be paid to an announcer. I want the White Sox to win. When they win there is not one person happier than I am. When they lose there is no one more down than I am. I have some detractors, as every announcer does, and I have fans who love the Hawk, and I think one of the reasons why is that I am a White Sox guy and I give the other team credit but I want the White Sox to win.

When I am doing a game and I have to bite my tongue, they know by my silence, which is the greatest communicator of them all.

Indeed, at age 70, Harrelson isn’t about to change, and most Sox fans are fine with that. Expect more clips like the one he produced Wednesday.