I bet you didn’t know that Chicago baseball is closely intertwined with birds. The Cubs can’t seem to get rid of the seagulls that invade center field and flock toward the bleachers for postgame leftovers. The Cubs also once had a legendary player named Andre “The Hawk” Dawson.
And speaking of hawks, the White Sox play-by-play announcer goes by the name Hawk Harrelson, although his birth certificate says “Ken.” Even if you’re not a White Sox fan, you’ve probably heard of Harrelson, seeing as how he made national news last week with his middle-school tirade against a home-plate umpire.
But after last night’s first-year player draft, the White Sox acquired a new Hawk, one who hopefully carries a more positive reputation to the franchise. However, this hawk – Courtney Hawkins, an 18-year old high school outfield from Texas – got off to a rocky start in the black-and-white pinstripes.
Immediately after being drafted, several of the big-name prospects in attendance were interviewed live on MLB Network. (I sadly know this because I was watching; feel free to take a minute to snicker at me.) Before Hawkins’ interview, the network showed a brief highlight package of his on-field feats, and this video also included footage of him doing a backflip in uniform.
This talent was too good for interviewer Sam Ryan to pass up, so she led off the interview by asking if Hawkins would do a backflip.
Before I continue, let’s pause for a minute. Imagine you’re White Sox general manager Ken Williams, or any of the dozens of scouts who have spent months and years searching for the right player to select in this year’s draft. You likely stood up and began pleading with the TV, saying, “Please, Courtney, don’t do it!” A flopped flip could have resulted in a long-term injury and heaped more Hawk-induced embarrassment upon the Sox.
After Hawkins removed his iPhone from his pocket, buttoned the top button on his Sox jersey and stepped into the proper placement, he flipped. Much to Williams’ temporary delight, Hawkins landed on two feet and couldn’t wipe the smile off his face.
That smile may have been slightly muted when Hawkins later received a call from Williams. As Hawkins told ESPN, “Mr. (Ken) Williams said no more backflips, so no more it is.”
So that’s that. Although some White Sox fans may be disappointed that Hawkins won’t be backflipping his way out to center field in several years – their own Ozzie Smith – my guess is that most would prefer Hawkins remain healthy so he can bring more to the team than entertainment value.
Judging by the non-flip parts of the highlight footage shown last night, Hawkins can hit. And if he puts up big power numbers and plays solid defense, that’s something Sox fans will flip out about.