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HAWK: PART 2: I JUST COULDN'T BELIEVE MY EARS
Kenneth Harrelson
July 21, 1969
Twice shocked and hurt by abrupt dismissals, baseball's least-retiring folk hero lands not only on his feet but on top of a mad, mod world. First he peddles himself for $150,000 to the pennant-bound Red Sox, then swallows his pride—after certain financial adjustments—to join up with Cleveland, a city that meets him with roses, poetry and song
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July 21, 1969

Hawk: Part 2: I Just Couldn't Believe My Ears

Twice shocked and hurt by abrupt dismissals, baseball's least-retiring folk hero lands not only on his feet but on top of a mad, mod world. First he peddles himself for $150,000 to the pennant-bound Red Sox, then swallows his pride—after certain financial adjustments—to join up with Cleveland, a city that meets him with roses, poetry and song

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"And you can't quit playing ball either," Woolf said. "Even though you can afford it, you'll be an emotional wreck if you quit now. It's only April. There's a whole season to go. You can't sit through it without going nuts."

"Bobby, I'm going to retire. If I can't play for the Red Sox I don't want to play for anyone."

Ironically, we were playing Cleveland that day. Before the game I walked under the stands to the visiting team's locker room to see Dark. The Cleveland players were great—they crowded around to shake hands and tell me how glad they were I was with them. When we reached Alvin's office, he said, "Man, am I glad to see you! You can mean a pennant for us."

"Alvin," I said, "you're my best friend in baseball. I'd rather play for you than anyone. But I've got to explain this to you personally. I don't want you to get it from anyone else. I'm going to retire."

He stared and said, "Retire? At 27? With your best years ahead of you? Hawk, are you out of your mind?"

"No. I can afford to retire," I said. "Here—Bobby will tell you."

When Woolf had explained all the things I had going for me in Boston, Alvin said, "Hawk, I never realized this because I've never seen anything like it before. It never happened to me or to any other ballplayer I've ever heard of. I hate to see it happen but I guess you could retire if you wanted to."

At the press conference Woolf made the formal announcement of my retirement. He explained all my enterprises and an agreement I had with Boston that my salary would be guaranteed for three years. Then I said I didn't blame anyone, that this was part of baseball, that I still loved the Red Sox, that I loved the Indians, that I wasn't bitter or anything, but that I just couldn't leave Boston.

Someone asked Woolf, "Would the Hawk go to Cleveland if the Indians made up his losses in leaving Boston?"

"I don't know," Bobby said.

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