A Tribute to Harry Kalas

kalas-jerseyHere are some stories/memories people have submitted to me of Phillies announcer Harry Kalas after his death on Tuesday at the age of 73.

Please feel free to add to this list at any time this summer either by e-mail or in the comments of this post…I hope you enjoy this…

Daniel from
C70 at the Bat wrote this:

In 2002, Cardinal fans lost Jack Buck after a lengthy illness.  Even though we all knew Jack was going sometime soon, when he actually did, it was still devastating.

So I can only imagine how Phillies fans feel about the loss of Harry Kalas so suddenly this week.  As Jack was St. Louis, Vin Scully is LA, Harry Carey was Chicago, so Kalas was Philadelphia.  I honestly didn’t know he’d done work elsewhere, always just assuming he’d been with the Phillies forever.

That voice was such a unique and distinctive sound.  Everything sounded better when Kalas said it.  He brought gravitas to everything, even the yearly Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet.  I’m not sure anyone else could have spoken the cheesy dog puns and gotten away with it quite like he did.

He will truly be missed and I think baseball fans everywhere are now glad that the Phillies took home the title last year.  Harry Kalas died with the Phillies still as World Champs and he probably wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

Keith Glab from Baseball Evolution had this to say:

I have had the good fortune to work with Cubs Radio Play-by-Play Legend Pat Hughes for the past few years. Pat has made a series of audio tributes to great Hall-of Fame broadcasters who have influenced his own soon-to-be Hall of Fame career.  Three of those audio CDs were enhanced by the fact that the subject of the tribute was still alive and able to provide his own commentary on the CD along with audio clips and Pat’s analysis.

Dodgers broadcast legend legend Vin Scully, who is 81 years young, declined Pat’s offer to make a tribute CD, claiming that he does not want such a tribute made until his broadcast career is over.  When Pat told me that, I replied that I did not think Scully would ever retire, that he would be working in the broadcast booth until the day he died, just like Pat’s good friend, Harry Caray.

Pat produced his tribute to Harry Kalas in December of 2007, just prior to the Phillies’ World Championship season of 2008.  As I listened to Harry singing his off-key rendition of “High Hopes” to Phillies fans after their series-clinching Game 5 victory, I thought about what a shame it was that Pat didn’t wait one more year before producing his tribute.  The Phillies had many great moments in 2008, Harry made many memorable calls that year, and I thought it a shame that they could not be included in Pat’s tribute.

Now, with Harry’s unfortunate passing on Monday at the age of 73, we are all reminded that waiting for the perfect moment to do something is risky, as we never know what the future will hold.  Harry Kalas has been the Voice of the Phillies for more than 35 years.  His distinctive, velveteen voice will forever be associated with Phillies broadcasts, and watching a Phillies game will never be the same without it.

It is appropriate that he died in the broadcast booth while preparing for a Phillies broadcast.  He lived doing what he loved and what he excelled at, and he died doing the same.  He had the good fortune to broadcast two World Championship seasons for the team that he loved, and indeed it was public outcry from Phillies fans when Harry Kalas and Richie Ashburn were not allowed to broadcast the 1980 World Series that paved the way for local broadcasters to perform World Series games in 1981.
Harry was a legend, a pioneer, and a friendly, welcoming voice in millions of living rooms across the country.  It is a gross understatement to say that he will be missed.Likewise, here is what Baseball Evolution wrote the other day concerning Kalas’ death:

Harry Kalas (March 26, 1936 – April 13, 2009) – I moved to Philadelphia the night the Phillies traded Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle to the Yankees for a bunch of minor leaguers. In my short time here even I have my Harry Kalas memories.

Like the time the Phillies were playing the Braves and Harry’s broadcast mate decided he’d rather refer to Braves rookie Jarrod Saltalamacchia as “Salty” like his Braves teammates instead of having to say “Saltalamacchia” over and over.

Harry responded by saying “You can’t call players from another team by their nickname. You think Skip and Don [Braves announcers Skip Caray and Don Sutton] are over there right now referring to Jimmy Rollins as ‘J-Roll’?”

The greatest Harry Kalas call since I’ve been in Philly came when the Phillies clinched the NL East last season on their way to the World Series title. With the bases loaded and one out, Ryan Zimmerman hit what looked like a two-run single up the middle to give Brad Lidge his first blown save of the season. But Jimmy Rollins somehow snagged the ball and started one of the most dramatic double plays in Phillies history. In just that one play Harry’s voice went from the agony of defeat to the joy of victory:

“Ground ball up the middle, J-Roll dives, to Utley one, relay, double play!, the Phillies are the National League Eastern Division champions on a spectacular double play by J-Roll to Utley to Howard! What a play by J-Roll!”

Harry died on Monday at the age of 73 while preparing for a game against the Washington Nationals in Washington. He will be missed by all Phillies fans.

Your story/memory could go after this!

Back on 4/13/09, Curt Schilling wrote a post entitled Harry Kalas RIP. Click on that link to read what Curt has to say about the passing of the great Harry Kalas.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply