On Wednesday morning, the White Sox and MLB community were saddened by the news of Ed Farmer’s passing. A Farmer had served as the radio voice for the Chicago White Sox for the last 29 seasons. He also was a former reliever for the team in the early 80s making his lone All-Star appearance in 1980. Farmer’s legacy wasn’t made by his playing or broadcasting career, but by the love he had for his hometown team along with the fans.
Farmer was born and raised in Chicago and is one of the few players to get to play for his hometown team. He also was able to be significantly involved with his hometown team in a post-playing career. Oddly enough, White Sox fans loved the former reliever for his time with the team, even though he spent just two and half seasons of his 11-year playing career with Chicago.
In 1991, he was hired in a part-time role as a radio color-commentary for the White Sox as he was the team’s color commentary for Sunday games. In 1992, he was brought on as the full-time color commentator for the team, forming a long-tenured partnership with play-by-play announcer John Rooney. The two would work together for the next 13 seasons, with the final season together being the 2005 World Series Championship season for the team. Both Sox fans and baseball fans, in general, loved the radio crew as Rooney and Farmer were named MLB’s best radio broadcast team in 2004.
Following the 2005 championship season, Farmer embarked on one of the few things that many ex-players do, which was to transition from the role of color-commentator to play-by-play. Although many ex-player go one to have careers as color analysis, very few become play-by-play broadcasters, and even fewer are successful at it. Farmer was able to transition after the first few years as he and former White Sox player Darrin Jackson served as the radio voices of the team for the last 11 seasons.
What made Farmer successful as the radio play-by-play announcer for the White Sox was his ability to call and describe the game in the most simplistic manner. There was no over-explanation to what was going on, nor was there any need to inject himself into the game. It was almost as if Farmer knew how fans wanted to hear the game called, and he left it at that.
From 2006 to 2019, the former reliever was behind the mic for several great White Sox moments while developing signature catchphrases also. Farmer called four no-hit games, two of which were perfect games for Mark Buehrle and Phillip Humber. He called Jim Thome’s 500th career home run, several 400th career home runs, and the 2008 division-clinching game for the White Sox. Farmer’s catchphrases grew on fans over the years including “Light it up” following a home run, “Free baseball” whenever referring to extra-inning games, “Its hold them and head home or to the hotel” right before the start of the ninth inning if Chicago was winning, and finally “Sox Win”.
Another aspect as to why Farmer was so successful and loved as a radio voice was due to his ability to be human with fans during and after games. He would share the love for his family, his prior medical ailments, and other aspects of his life with fans during the game, but never allowed that to supersede the game. Sunday games he would share how he went to church in the morning, during weekday games he would talk about pre-game moments he had down on the field, and other times he would talk about the beauty of life.
Off the field, he was as accessible to fans as much as he possibly could be. Where some ex-players may be hesitant or stand-offish with fans, Farmer was the complete opposite. He made time and even went out of his way to get to know fans on a personal level. It is that reason as to why he was so important to the White sox family as he is one of many personalities on the team that cares for the fans. Farmer, Steve Stone, Hawk Harrelson, Jason Benetti, and former players in the White Sox organization knows how to truly connect with fans.
Farmer’s love for his team, the city, and the fans was apparent with everything he did, whether it was at the ballpark or away from it. Whenever he talked, people could tell how much he appreciated life and those who interacted with him. It is fitting that for a man that loved everyone that was apart of his life, his final moments were spent surrounded by his family.