R.I.P. To Harry Kalas – A Philadelphia Legend
I’m getting ready to head out and do some shooting but wanted to post this.
Didn’t expect this today.
At about 1:30 p.m. this afternoon, Harry Kalas, the voice of Philadelphia Phillies, collapsed in the pressbox in Washington. The Phillies were getting ready to play the Nationals this afternoon at 3:05. He was rushed to hospital where he passed. He was 73.
Harry Kalas as THE voice of Philadelphia Phillies baseball. His voice was velvety smooth and ranked right up there with the best of them. And his trademark “Swing and Looong drive…OUTTA HERE….” home run call ranks up among the best.
I’m not going to get into specifics about his tenure with my Phils. It was 30 years plus. You’ll see it in all the obits.
But from a personal standpoint, he was a big part of my life. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, after my parents relegated their “hi-fi” to my bedroom, I’d tune in the Phillies game, possibly out on a West Coast swing, and as the warm Pennsylvania summer air filtered through my curtains and the cool sheets were on me, I’d listen to Harry, and his partner, the great Ritchie Asburn, describe the game to me as I drifted asleep.
Then, in 2004, when my wife and I drove back to the East Coast from San Francisco, I didn’t think I was “home” until that moment when, in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, I tuned my radio into the ballgame and heard “Good evening, everybody, I’m Harry Kalas on a beautiful night for baseball.” Then, I knew, I was home.
But the memory that has stayed with me the longest, almost 20 years now, was a letter. The letter above. Back in 1989, the Phillies flat-out stunk. Stunk so bad I don’t even want to remember. I was 19, as was my buddy Jim, and we both thought we were going to take the sportswriting nation by storm.
We’d listen and agonize over the Nonphightin’ Phils that summer. At some point, we thought “Hey, they should let us do an inning or two. Break up the monontany.” So we drafted a letter to Harry and Ritchie and sent it off, never thinking twice.
Little did we expect to receive a personalized response from The Voice himself. Complete with edit marks (this was WAY before email). An actual letter, polite and classy, back to a couple of dumb college freshman.
That’s what endures – Harry’s class.
The Phils came from behind the other day in a crazy game and won it. I was driving home from work, listening, and actually thought “I’m glad he got to see them win another championship. Maybe they’ll get another for him.
Maybe they will….but he…and Whitey…will be watching from above.
R.I.P. Harry – Thanks SO much for the memories.
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