PHILADELPHIA -- You can hear the excitement in the voice of coordinating producer Marc Caiafa when he describes MLB Network’s upcoming documentary "Hawk: The Colorful Life of Ken Harrelson."
The hour-long program on the White Sox broadcaster and former All Star narrated by Bob Costas is set to air at 6 p.m. CT on Thursday on MLB Network. Caiafa said the documentary covers many of the stories today’s viewers might not know about Harrelson, who is celebrating his 50th season in baseball.
Among the memories recounted are how Harrelson hung out with Joe Namath the night before Super Bowl III, his hospital visit with a dying Vince Lombardi and how Rocky Marciano, right before his death, wanted to promote a fight between Hawk and Sonny Liston.
“Modern day people think he’s ‘Put it on the board,’” Caiafa said by phone Saturday. “It’s way deeper than that. ... You almost wish you had unlimited time. It’s a solid enjoyable hour, and people will say, ‘I didn’t know that.’”
The idea for the feature was generated when MLB Network interviewed Harrelson for a documentary on Frank Howard.
Off camera, Harrelson told Caiafa and the crew about some of his encounters with Jack Nicklaus, Bill Russell and countless others. Caiafa said he’s impressed because Harrelson didn’t tell the stories in an attempt to promote himself. He likened him to baseball’s version of "Forrest Gump" for all the unbelievable experiences Harrelson has had over the years.
“The more we started to do our research -- his book, the golf -- he’s been associated with some of the most fascinating people in and out of baseball,” Caiafa said. “It kept snowballing.”
MLB’s crew spent joined Harrelson at U.S. Cellular Field for one day in May and spent another with him at his home in Granger, Ind. He said he enjoyed the trip down memory lane and looks forward to the final production.
“It was like little sparks that ignited this thought process or that thought process and brought up stuff from my muscle memory, from the basement so to speak and just kept on going,” Harrelson said. “I’m anxious to see it.”
Ventura wants to return in 2014
For the third or fourth time this season White Sox manager Robin Ventura clarified his plans for next season. Regardless of where the club is, whether its competing or rebuilding, Ventura wants to be back on the bench at U.S. Cellular Field.
“I don’t know for sure what we are going to have going into next year,” Ventura said. “We haven’t got into trying to plan 2014. We’ll get through this and I don’t know if I even have an answer. I hope we are (contenders). ... I would like to be here. I would like to be here, either way.”
Crain’s All-Star plans
Jesse Crain considers himself a tourist at the upcoming All-Star Game, but he’s going to enjoy it anyway.
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A first-time All Star, Crain won’t participate in the exhibition because he’s on the 15-day disabled list with a right shoulder strain.
“I’m going to be like a sponge, soak everything in,” Crain said. “I’m going to try to do as much as I can, meet a lot of people and soak in a lot. I’m going to be on the same team as (Mariano) Rivera for probably his last All-Star Game, I’d imagine. I’d love to talk to him a little bit and see some old friends. There are about six Twins that are on the team. It’s going to be a good time.”