Goodbye Harry Kalas

petesrose harrykalas2When Harry Kalas passed from this life earlier today, he took a piece of me with him. I have never met Harry or spoken to him personally, but he has spoken to me for hours at a time, over the course of my baseball-listening life.  I grew up in the South Jersey area, and Harry Kalas’ voice over the radio conjures up images of food-laden barbecues, and joy-filled weekend afternoons splashing in the pool. I may not always have been tuned in to every word he spoke, but his voice was always there in the background calling the Phillies games. He represented the team to all of us. He brought the games-and the players-to life in our minds’ eye day in and day out. He was the constant sound of summer, right up there with crickets and fireworks.

My first thought on hearing of his death was how glad I was that he had been able to call the World Series victory for the Phillies just a few short months ago, and to see them get their rings just a few short days ago. However, that thought was immediately followed by this selfish one: how will I be able to go on without his voice making the experience of a Phillies game what it has come to be?  Irreplaceable and inimitable, he leaves a huge hole in the Philadelphia baseball experience.

All I can do is sigh and realize that yes, Phillies’ baseball will go on, indeed it did this very afternoon. But, deep down inside I’m not really sure I want it to! No Harry Kalas making a long ball even more incredible with his “that’s OUTTA HERE!” declaration? No more of his amazing ability to drag out a sentence-for-so-long-that-you-have-no-idea-how-he-even-has-any-breath-left-to-go-on?

But, like everyone else, I’m sure I will continue to tune into TV and radio broadcasts while the Phillies are playing. I just don’t know how long it will be before I can do so without flinching at who I’m not hearing talk to me for hours on end. I now live in the New England area, so hearing his broadcasts has been one of the treats I look forward to on visits home in the summer. That treat, that special piece of my life, was taken abruptly this afternoon when the voice of the Philadelphia Phillies was silenced forever. I remain a Phillies fan, but a fan with a much heavier heart than I had yesterday.

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One Comment

  1. threio

    April 14, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Since 1971, been listening, grew in philly and SJ also.

    I knew he was sick during the off-season, but still can’t believe this happened yesterday.

    frankly, I was hoping for one more season with Harry.

    However, him passing in the broadcast booth doing what he loves is better than his passing in November.

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