Harry Kalas Tribute

It was the sound of summer. The voice of Phillies baseball. It's hard to believe that April 12, 2009 would be the last time we'd hear it. But our voice is gone, and listening to Phillies baseball won't be the same without hearing the legendary voice of Harry Kalas.

He passed away in the press box at Nationals Park, in the town he watched his hero Mickey Vernon play, doing what he loved to do.

The tears on every Phillies fan shows that Harry was more than a terrific broadcaster. I never met Harry the K, but the tears in my eyes goes to show how one man can impact an entire city, and the entire baseball community. The players loved him. The fans loved him.

During the seventh inning stretch, he was there throwing peanuts to the fans while singing "Take me out to the ballgame." There was never a time he turned down an autograph, photo, or the recording of a cell phone answering machine. He had celebrity status, but he didn't let it get to him. My dad's friend met Harry why waiting to vote. My dad's friend asked why he wouldn't cut to the front of the line, but Harry waited in line like the average Joe.

His best friend was Richie Ashburn, who passed away in 1997. I wasn't old to enough to remember, but everyone says they were the best broadcast duo. Just listening to Harry, I find that easy to believe. Harry carried on memories of his late friend and frequently told his favorite Whitey stories.

Harry's love of the game started as a child, and his enthusiasm never left, even in the most meaningless of games. Like most people in the area, I grew up listening to Harry, whether it was on television, or the radio. He's all I know.

All of calls give me goosebumps. His "Outta here!" calls are world famous, originated from Larry Bowa on a Greg Luzinski batting practice home run. But his other calls were just as great. "Struck 'em out!" "Looong drriiiive," "Could it be?" "Can you believe it!?"

Even the little calls like "Walked 'em on four pitches," "the throw to the plate" or "goes down swinging" or the simple words "base hit" had a defining tone.

He was getting older, and he may of lost a few steps. There were time we'd "Watch this baby.. get caught at the warning track." But it didn't matter. Harry was in the booth and that is all we cared about.

We remember Phillies baseball by his calls. He didn't have a chance to call the 1980 World Series on air. However, the love of the Philadelphia fans helped changed the rule three years later to let team broadcasters get a chance to call playoff games. In 2008, he had that opportunity.

"One strike away; nothing-and-two, the count to Hinske. Fans on the their feet;
rally towels are being waved. Brad Lidge stretches. The 0-2 pitch — swing and a
miss, struck him out! The Philadelphia Phillies are 2008 World Champions of
baseball! Brad Lidge does it again, and stays perfect for the 2008 season!
48-for-48 in save opportunities, and watch the city celebrate! Don't let the
48-hour wait diminish the euphoria of this moment, and the celebration. And it
has been 28 years since the Phillies have enjoyed a World Championship; 25 years
in this city with a team that has enjoyed a World Championship, and the fans are
ready to celebrate. What a night!"

There was Mike Schmidt's 500th career home run.

"Swing and a long drive, there it is, number 500! The career 500th home run for
Michael Jack Schmidt!"

Those are just two of his most notable calls, but he has thousands. A walk off or great way to end a game, fans know his calls by heart.

Maybe it was Thome's 400th home run, "take a bow big man!" "Chase Utley, you are the man!" Aaron Rowand's "great, great, perhaps, game saving catch!" Ryan Howard's tremendous home run "over the backdrop!" or the last out of Terry Muholland, Rick Wise or Kevin Millwood's no hitter. Any or every exciting Phillies moment was capped off with a legendary call that will stick in our memories for the rest of our lives.

After the Phillies clinched the division, or moved to the next round of the playoffs, we'd be sure to hear his rendition of "High Hopes!"

He had fun with names. Whether it was Michael Jack, Mic-KEY Mor-an-DI-ni, Bo-bby Ab-REU or nicknames like Mitchy-Poo, The Big Man, JRoll and T-Mac, the way he said everybody's name was unique. Even if it wasn't a player or broadcaster. Like many games, he gave up birthday wishes, including my Pop-pop back in 2001. Roc-CO Ac-ITO!

Many players said that you weren't an official big leaguer until Kalas announced your name.

Phillies fans were spoiled listening to him. He was one reason why so many of us fell in love baseball. Nationally televised games were dreaded because it meant no Harry the K.

We remember his voice. We remember his speeches. We remember his first pitch during the ring ceremony. We remember him taking down the final number at the Vet. We will always remember Harry.
"For play-by-play, here's Harry." "Alright, thank you Wheels."

He was imitated by many, but nothing was like hearing the Hall of Fame voice; the voice that belonged to the Phillies since 1971. The voice that will forever be missed.


GM-Carson said...

Harry Kalas is a great man, and I will cherish my memories of him forever.

Jay Ballz said...

I ALWAYS loved hearing him say the name Mickey Morandini. Easily my favorite from Harry.

I am so glad he got to do it all with the Phillies...the World championship in October, the opening day that followed, the ring ceremony & first pitch that day. He was with us long enough to complete the perfect life. Thank you, Harry.


It's still hard to believe...

Anonymous said...

RuthI recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



Amanda said...

Thank you Nancy/Ruth.

I'm glad you like it and hope you visit it again.

Anonymous said...

thank u for the nice site. i really miss Harry

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