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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Hawk's Blood Feud!
by Hal Vickery

The war between Hawk Harrelson and Jay Mariotti heated up this week, due to an incident that occurred six days before Mariotti decided to get on his high horse once again. 

The precipitating incident occurred after the June 23rd Sox-Indians game at The Cell.  Two brothers were allegedly using foul language causing the wife of an off-duty Burbank police officer to become upset at the use of such language around her children. 

She asked her husband to do something about it.  The off-duty officer said he identified himself as a police officer and told them to stop using the nasty language.  One of the brothers, allegedly grabbed the area around his genitals and told the officer, “Cop this.” 

There are conflicting reports from the officer and from the brothers as to what happened next, but the final result was that the officer and his wife both ended up with broken noses.  One of the brothers didn’t fair much better when he was taken to the holding facility at The Cell.  According to the report of the incident, the young man’s head apparently made contact with a bench as security personnel were tying to subdue him. 

The incident was reported the next day and even made the message boards here at WSI.  Then suddenly, six days after the incident, headlines were screaming about this latest incident at The Cell.  Apparently the police officer decided to wait that long before speaking about the incident to members of the press. 

As one would expect, the person who made the biggest deal over the whole thing was Mr. Mariotti, who used the forum of his radio show to call The Cell “a hell hole.”  Mariotti went on to say that he would be afraid to take his children to The Cell because it is such a dangerous place.   

As a side note, I was at the game at which this incident occurred and was unaware that anything had occurred.  I am also willing to bet that all but a few people even knew anything had happened because they came to the ball park, watched the game, and left without incident.   

Of course Mariotti’s comments about the White Sox, U.S. Cellular Field, and team ownership have been over the top and laced with hyperbole for a decade, so  this is nothing new.  What is relatively new is that Mariotti now has a forum to spew what passes as being his thoughts on the White Sox flagship station. 

As a result, Hawk Harrelson has been on Mariotti’s case since SoxFest this past January.  The battle between the two heated up last week at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis after Harrelson had made a few references to Mariotti during his game telecasts. 

According to Harrelson, he was on his way to his broadcasting booth.  To do so he has to pass the press box.  The passage is narrow, and Mariotti was leaning back in his chair talking on his cell phone.  

Harrelson said that he “brushed” against the chair Mariotti was sitting in, not knowing who was occupying the seat.  According to Mariotti, Harrelson “rammed into” him. 

In a scene reminiscent of the last time Mariotti made an appearance in the Sox clubhouse and had a pleasant conversation with Tony Phillips, Mariotti said, “Watch where you’re going.  Words were exchanged between them.   

Then Mariotti allegedly got up and, according to witnesses, at one point put his nose within three or four inches of Harrelson’s.  Witnesses reported him as saying, “I ought to clock you right now.” 

Harrelson’s reported response was, “Go ahead.  Do what you’ve got to do, Jay.” 

The shouting match continued, with witnesses stating that at one point Mariotti shouted at Harrelson, “You want a lawsuit?  I can make you a poor man.”  Mariotti denies making this statement. 

Mariotti’s version goes like this.  “No, there was an exchange.  He was yelling silly things that are beneath me. He needs to be a professional.  Am I going up to his booth and yelling at him?  If I did, would that be a violation?  Yes.  End of story." 

Ah, if only it were.  As they say in the ads for $19.95 gadgets, “But wait!  There’s more!” 

After the game, according to Harrelson, he and Darrin Jackson saw Mariotti working in the press box alone.  All the other reporters were in the clubhouse doing interviews, something Mariotti hasn’t done (at least in the Sox clubhouse) since his run-in with Phillips. 

Harrelson reported that as he was walking by the clubhouse he said to Mariotti, “'Now, Jay, have a nice evening.'  And he muttered something I couldn't make out." 

Mariotti described Harrelson’s tone of voice as “yelling.”  Of course one has to remember that this comes from the person who just a few days before referred to The Cell as a hell hole.  According to Mariotti, he was angered because Harrelson shouted at him when he was on deadline.   

Mariotti said, "You don't come into a press box after a game and start yelling at a guy when writers are on deadline.  He's thoroughly unprofessional."   

Pot, meet Kettle. 

However, in what has to be the most outrageously hilarious statement of all, Mariotti concluded his remarks by saying that he’s had several people “provoke” him.  “"I have been provoked by athletes, owners, their sons, writers and broadcasters a good fifteen to twenty times in this city and every time I have walked away. How many other people would?"  

He said he is “appalled” by the number of people who want to take a shot at him.  Then as a clincher, he concluded, "These people need to get me off the brain.  I'm not worth it.  I'm just a guy in the media.  I'm trying to lay low." 

Sure, you are, Jay, by spewing ridiculous statements about The Cell, not to mention the “dangerous neighborhood” it is in both in your column and on your radio show, by the use of hyperbole in both forums, and of course by standing up and shouting at Hawk Harrelson.  That’s really lying low. 

The act only goes so far Jay.  It wore off with me when I heard the tape nearly a decade ago of your confrontation with Tony Phillips.  We all heard who escalated that little incident.  We’re not buying what you’re selling.   

And those of us who have half a brain aren’t listening to your radio show or buying the rag you write for.  We have better things to do with our time.

Editor's Note: Hal Vickery has been a White Sox fan since 1955 when he was five years old. For much of that time he also had a secondary rooting interest in the Cubs, which he has shown the good sense to abandon. When not cheering for or writing about the Sox, Hal teachers chemistry and physics at North Boone High School, in Poplar Grove, IL. Hal commutes there daily from Joliet, where he lives with his wife Lee, and their dog, Buster T. Beagle. Hal's opinions are not necessarily those of North Boone High School, his wife, or Buster T. Beagle. You can write Hal at

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