Slugging Ken Harrelson, stunned and shaken by a trade which he claimed would cost him up to $750,000 in lost business opportunities, retired from baseball at the age of 27 yesterday rather than report from the Boston Red Sox to the Cleveland Indians. The long haired “Hawk”, who captivated the city of Boston with his hitting on the field and his mod dress and swinging personality off it, made the announcement at a news conference.
On Saturday, the Red Sox traded Harrelson with pitchers Dick Ellsworth and Juan Pizzaro to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for catcher Joe Azcue and pitchers Vincente Romo and Sonny Siebert. None of the players involved in the trade will be in uniform for the finale of the three-game series at Fenway Park between the two clubs. This was at the request of American League president Joe Cronin and by agreement of both clubs. A Red Sox official told an impromptu news conference during the game that he would not expect Harrelson to wind up back with the Boston club no matter what happens – even if the trade should be called off all together. “I do not forsee him wearing a Red Sox uniform,” said Dick O’Connell, Boston’s general manager.
O’Connell said the status of the trade was “nowhere” at the moment, and that he was waiting to discuss it with Cleveland general manager Gabe Paul. He said negotiations could possibly produce a compromise trade or that it could be called off, but that “either way we lose Harrelson.” Asked whether it wouldn’t be better for the club to take him back if Cleveland was willing to call off the whole deal, O’Connell said, “You might feel that way emotionally, but not ethically. There’s principle involved here. I would imagine that the rules and the ethics would prevail.”
Harrelson met with the press in one of his many mod outfits of multi-colored slacks and a yellow sweater emblazoned with “The Hawk”. “This is my town, I love it,” said Harrelson. Speaking from behind dark glasses, Harrelson said, “I have absolutely no hard feelings toward the Red Sox. I still love Tom Yawkey, Dick O’Connell, Haywood Sullivan and Dick Williams,” he said of Boston’s owner, general manager, vice president and manager in that order. “I know they felt they had to do something, and they did it.” Harrelson said he had notified the Red Sox of his decision when he and his attorney went to the ball park earlier. He added that he had also notified Cleveland manager Alvin Dark, for whom he played previously with the Kansas City Athletics.
Harrelson batted .244 with a home run and 11 RBI in 10 games this season for Boston. Ellsworth was 1-1 in 2 starts for Boston with a 4.50 ERA. Dark stated that Ellsworth would take over the No. 3 slot in the Tribe rotation. “He’s a pitcher, not a thrower. I think he’ll be especially effective in our big park in Cleveland,” said Dark who was a coach for the Cubs in 1965 when Ellsworth worked from them. Pizzaro registered two saves for the Bosox in 7 games with a 7.36 ERA.
Azcue started the 1969 campaign on fire for Cleveland, batting .529 with a pair of homers in 6 games. Siebert registered a 3.21 ERA and a 1-0 record in two Cleveland starts, and Romo pitched scoreless ball in 7 2/3 innings of work this season for Tribe.