A guaranteed contract for 1968 may have been enough for the offensively-challenged White Sox to win the classic American League pennant race in 1967.
Instead, the Boston Red Sox paid for part of one season and guaranteed another and made their impossible dream season a reality and captured the flag.
The White Sox, meanwhile, wound up fourth in what was the end of the “Go Go” era and their last winning season until 1972.
The player in question is Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, who announced Tuesday he was retiring as White Sox TV announcer after his 33rd season after 2018.
During the thick of the heated 1967 pennant chase, Harrelson and his potent bat suddenly became available.
The Kansas City A’s handed Hawk his walking papers on Aug. 25 after he had made “unflattering” remarks about team owner Charles O. Finley, according to press reports of the day.
Harrelson burst onto the market with a .305 average with six homers and 30 RBI in 61 games for the A’s.
No contending team probably in the history of baseball needed a bat more than manager Eddie Stanky’s 1967 White Sox.
The fact that this pitching-strong team was able to hang with the likes of the muscular Twins, Tigers and Red Sox with an offense whose leading hitters would bat .241 (Ken Berry and Don Buford) is one of the most underrated accomplishments in franchise history.
This team lacked punch, too.
While Pete Ward would lead the team with a respectable 18 homers, the Sox had no regular that had a .400 slugging percentage. Ward paced the Sox with a paltry 62 RBI.
Hawk had power as his 23 homers in 1965 demonstrated and that’s what got him to the bigs.
The White Sox were in a virtual second-place tie with Boston a half game behind Minnesota when Hawk became available.
According to an UPI story of the day, the White Sox made an offer to Harrelson for the remainder of the 1967 season. The Red Sox did the same but guaranteed 1968 so the Hawk flew to Boston and signed with the “carmines” on Aug. 28, 1967.
Harrelson only hit .200 with three homers the rest of the way but he did have some key RBIs — particularly in a win vs. the White Sox on Sept. 1 and in the pennant clincher on the final day of the season.
The White Sox, meanwhile, continued to struggle offensively especially in the last five games when they lost out while scoring just five runs.
The White Sox, who finished three games back in fourth place, could have used Hawk to put a few on the board for them, yes?
As for 1968, Harrelson had his best year, leading the A.L. with 109 RBI for the Red Sox while the White Sox remained offensively-challenged while ending their streak of 17 consecutive winning seasons and first-division finishes.
It wouldn’t be until 1982 that Hawk would join the Sox as a broadcaster.