I’ve always had kind of a love-hate relationship with Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, going back to his playing days.
My best friend in grade school was a Boston Red Sox fan, so I embraced Tony Conigliaro early, suffered with his (eventually) career-ending beanball, and embraced the Hawk as his replacement.
The Hawk was a thinking man’s baseball player—befitting a golfer—and was the first to adapt the golf glove to baseball batting. (He would later quit baseball to try his hand, unsuccessfully, on the PGA Tour.) Working in tandem with the Ted Wlliams manual The Science of Hitting, I modeled my baseball batting stance on Harrelson’s, lifting the left heel off the ground to ease the golf-like turn of the left knee in to trigger the swing. Last year when I returned to the softball field (16-inch, as if that needs to be clarified) I found myself still doing it.
I’m one of the few people who can claim to have read Harrelson’s autobiography Hawk, in which, if memory serves, at one point he claims to have been able to dribble one of those old, rounded, drop-kickable footballs of the era like a basketball.
(Dig that Nehru jacket on the cover, too, Aware One.)