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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

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goodbye harry, and thanks for all the memories of the last thirty years.

On the fox sports website there are some nice interviews with harry. one that sticks out is an interview with harry and his son todd who is a member of the rays broadcast team. this may not be the time to ask this, but i wonder if the phillies would ever consider bringing him on board in the way st. louis did with jack and joe buck.

Life will go on and baseball games will still be played, but make no mistake, baseball will never be the same in Philadelphia...
Neither will opening that cold adult beverage on a muggy August evening. Harry shaped my experience of being a Phillies fan as much as the mediocrity of so many Phillies teams have. At least I can be thankful that the first championship in my lifetime was called by H.K.
If the Phils find a way to repeat, it will be for Harry.

transcended baseball is right. he wasn't just baseball for millions of fans like myself - he was long summer days and cool summer nights. he was the family together, all of the kids still under one roof. i feel like i've lost a piece of my childhood with his passing.

nice piece. rip harry.

Dukes: I thought the same thing. Todd got his start with the Phillies but, IMO, for his good, he left. If he was brought back he would be compared unfavorably to his father and it would not be fair to Todd.

There is precedence for this. Harry Carey got the ability to do a few games with his sons but Skip made his name calling Braves games and he had a quieter style than his father. Chip is different from his father. Joe and Jack Buck are different. Todd and Harry are different in their approaches to the game.

Harry was at his best when he had a foil. Richie Ashburn was his best foil. Larry Anderson was getting there. Wheels tried and was good but too technical. T-Mac and Sarge are developing a good rapport but are still a bit too talky for the game.

We shall see who will be the next great Phillies voice. We will not know him now but will grow into a role. My hope is their style is all their own and not try to be a Harry the K clone.

MG mentioned his Dad's attachment to By Saam as the initial gold standard of baseball broadcasing.

I grew up on By Saam. His was the voice I heard on the scratchy transistor radio listening to Dodger games till 1:00 AM, and hating the last out because it meant no baseball till the next day.

Richie Ashburn was a great addition to the booth, my Dad loved him; and Harry kept it rolling in his inimitable way for the great recent team.

It seems terribly hard to use the past tense instead of current when talking about Harry; I had to rewrite some of this because it really hasn't sunk in.

Boy, what a quality broadcast team we've been blessed with for over 40 years...What a loss.

What I'll never forget was his sheer love of the game. CSN interviewed Andy Musser who said that he never met anyone who loved his job more than Harry did. And you could tell. Whether he was calling a game-winning Mike Lieberthal home run as the Phillies were 20 games out of first in September, or the final out of the World Series, his joy was your joy and his love was your love. He invited you in and shared it with you.

Very well written. You have done a nice job of captuing his impact on this city. Ill miss him more than any player.

You're completely right about his subtlety. He was never so involved with some off topic story that he would miss calling any part of the game, which is more than can be said for many announcers today.

When asked the popular question, "Who would you most like to have dinner with dead or alive?", I always responded Harry Kalas; and my answer will never change.

After initial reactions and a day of listening to colleagues, friends, and fans reflect on Harry's passing - it is very obvious that something will always be missing after every great phillies moment.

Jason, great bit of writing...yes, I will miss Harry Kalas

My favorite thing about Harry is that he was a fan and he conveyed that over the airways. One of his best calls was when Billy Wagner, closing for the Phils, let up a late season go ahead HR to the Astros and he simply said "You have gotta be kidding me" . Thats how the fans felt. He got us because he was one of us.

It dawned on me that I was my younger son's age (20) when Harry came on the scene. So I didn't grow up with Harry but he has been a constant in my adult life. Gosh, I'll miss him.

I didn't think much about it when he came on board. I wasn't a big Bill Campbell fan as a baseball announcer. The '71 Phillies were dismal. I think Harry locked into his groove in '72, as dismal of a team as '71 with one exception. We would listen with rapt attention during Carlton's winning streak. Often I would hang out with my buddy as he worked at a gas station until 9:00 or so. When Carlton pitched, we would listen in the closed station until the game was over. We wouldn't want to miss a pitch. Harry, of course, made the streak so enjoyable.

Best wishes to the Kalas family.

One of the themes of Harry's Phillies career is 'all the losing seasons', but actually I think their record during his time is pretty close to .500, despite some pretty lean times.

@Jim P.:

Strangely, that's the call I most remember--and I didn't hear it live. I attended that game, was infuriated by Bell's error and then simply flabbergasted by Biggio's home run. The next day on WIP or something I heard Harry's call. His sense of disgust so perfectly mirrored mine--how unbelievable, yet typical.

Just reread all three Harry Kalas threads. It's hard to keep the eyes dry. Great comments by the BL family. People have written about By Saam being here for the early Harry Kalas years. By Saam had a voice similar to that of Mel Allen of the Yankees broadcast team. As fans, we believed that was the voice a baseball announcer should have. Harry Kalas' voice was different, so it took some time to acquire the Harry Kalas taste, but what a great voice he had! He will be sadly missed. This is so sad.

When legendary voices are silent, we all lose what they meant to us as individuals.I was a child in NYC when the dreaded Mets started, and they put together a trio of voices that lasted for years and gave New Yawkas a faint glimmer of hope and fun, while the Mets were just awful.
Harry and Richie did the same thing, only better. I moved into the area in 1978 and instantly became a fan of their wonderful friendship that transcended sports.
I will miss Harry a great deal. I will always be a Phils fan but it will never be the same.

I was born in Camden County, but moved to DC in 2001. Harry Kalas was always a voice that reminded me that home wasn't too far away. It's never felt so far now.

I'll always remember Harry singing, "High Hopes." The last time I heard him was after game 5. He stood amid the post-game chaos and belted out a chorus, with the crowd joining in. Harry was in heaven then. I'm sure he's in heaven now.

RIP Harry. Glad you got to see the WFC Phils.

I can remember his voice through the radio while working in the kitchen when I was a kid, thinking how great must it be to be there right now. Lonnng drive that ball is ...

Good morning everyone - I've been reading and re-reading all of the posts since the news yesterday and really haven't been able to bring myself to writing anything. So many emotions and memories have been flooding back to me over the past 20 hours or so that it really is hard to describe, as I'm sure everyone on the board feels the same way.

Born in 1967, I have essentially spent my entire life rooting for the Phils as described by Harry Kalas. My earliest memories are of listening to the broadcasts lying on the living room floor with my Dad in front of the "High-Fi", hearing about Del Unser, Ollie Brown, Willie Montanez, Bowa, Luzinski, Schmidtty etc.

When I got the rare priveledge of seeing my childhood heroes in person at the Vet, they seemed more magical because of the way Harry and Richie described them. They painted the portrait and scenery for my youth and my love of baseball. For that I am eternally grateful.

What really is tough today however is dealing with the mortality of my own Father who is 80 years old this year. He has been a Phillies fan since the 1930's literally. I was so happy for the team to have won last year - so that he could see another championship.

Throughout my youth, when things were tense between my father and I (like all teenagers go through) - we always had baseball. No matter what else was going on in my life. Disappointments, transgressions etc., I still could always sit down with my Dad, listen to Harry and talk about the game.

Somehow even though I always knew that those days would end eventually - this has made it completely real. I feel like my childhood ended today - lasting a full 41 years.

Great work , JW.

I think the thing I most appreciated about Harry was that he never made the broadcast about himself, the game and the team and the fans always were his focus.
He and Richie Ashburn were perfect together.

I'm a Met fan. I hate the Phillies as many of you probably hate the Mets.

That being said, it made me feel good that Harry Kalas at least got to call a Phillies WS in the last full season of his career as a broadcaster. I know that it brought most of you incredible joy to hear him proclaim your Phils "World Champions of Baseball."

My condolences to you all. I know how a voice can be identifiable with your franchise and how much of a part of your life he was. I know I felt like a part of my childhood was lost when Bob Murphy died.

I'm sorry for your collective loss.

Being only 23 i only really known baseball with HK. I remember turning the TV on mute to listen to Harry during the WS on the radio.

Its funny because I love watching ESPN when they play the announcers from other teams during great plays on Sports Center, and I sit there and laugh and say, baseball must suck with out Kalas announcing... There is nothing like listening to a game called by harry, he will be forever missed.

My favorite story is more of a whitey story but a harry/whitey story nonetheless. The duo would usually ask on air for a pizza from a cabernello's pizza(not sure if I have the name exactly right) The producer told harry and whitey they shouldn't do that anymore because it wasn't right. Well a few games go by and around the middle of the 4th inning as they are away for commercial whitey says to harry im hungry im getting us a pizza. So harry sets up whitey sometime during the bottom of the 4th, Whitey don't you have a special birthday wish you'd like to pass along. Whitey without missing a beat says yes Harry I sure do Id like to wish a special happy birthday to the cabernello twins plain, and pepperoni. Sure enough an inning later they had 2 pizza's delivered to the Vet.

Celebre's is the pizza place. Just up Broad Street from the sports complex.

Being a fan of any team makes you tend to be prejudiced towards your own.

I used to think Harry Kalas was the best announcer. Then I got exposed to many others thru work, internet, satellite, etc and realized he really was.

@Lion's -- The pizza shop is Celebre's. 15th and Packer. Next to Chickie's

I always thought Todd Kalas was pretty good, had a very pleasant, unforced, and engaging quality to his voice. I never understood why he was gone so quickly. During his interview with Comcast yesterday, he noted how happy he was down in Florida and I thought I heard him say something about Philadelphia being 'mean'. So I wouldn't look for a Kalas comeback anytime soon. Unfortunately.

This seems like the right time for all us BL lurkers, including this 75-year-old Phillies junkie, to come out into the open and express ourselves.

First, to JW: What a thrilling joint experience you provide us with your Phillies site. Thanks for your diligent effort to keep the focus on what brings us back again and again–our love for the game and the Phillies in particular.

Next, to all the regular posters. I hope I speak for all us lurkers when I say that we read your comments with interest and delight. You give voice what we know we would say if we were to post. Evidence of that is the many first-time names that I am seeing in their tributes to Harry Kalas.

Also, to all those who are taking this occasion to remember those people from the past–dads, sons, broadcasters–who stir such vivid memories as a result of HK’s passing. Though it was my dad who taught me to throw the “drop,” it was my mom (who would be 102 this year) who, because she was home all day, would have the radio on and tuned to the Phillies broadcasts. How often I would hear her blurt out, “Ach, that Andy Seminick!”

Before BL, I used to think that I was the oddest person in the world to tune in the tube-radio (later the transistor) to hear baseball late at night. Though I left the PA coal region in 1955 to live in Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, and now South Carolina, I still live or die with the fortunes of the Phillies. But now I have the BL clan beside me. Thanks so much.

@ Lion's pride great story was talking to my bestfriend about that one yesterday ... i believe it was the celebre twins ....god baseball will never be the same!

Harry got me through the lean years. I’ll never forget listening to Harry on my bed stand clock radio as a 16 year old in 1989, sticking out to the bitter end a Don Carman shutout that Steve Bedrosian blew. Down 2-0 in the bottom of the 12th, Bob Dernier’s inside the park home run gave me chills every time I listened to it (having found a blank tape to get the post-game show).

I loved Ashburn cheering Dernier home too – another reason that I don’t mind L.A.’s cheering nowadays. The hope for that kind of moment on otherwise hopeless teams kept me listening all these years.

I had the luck to have tickets to game 5 of the WS and had the pleasure of taking my 86 yr old grandfather with me. After they Won my Grandfather turned to me and said " I can't wait to hear how harry called it"
When the news broke yesterday I called my Grandfather and told him, after a few moments of disbelief and silence he said "I'm glad he got to call the World Series Championship"
I'm glad I got to spend time with both of them watching the Phillies. To me they ARE baseball.

The saddest thing about this day is that, someday, I'll take my kids to the ballpark and they'll see the restaurant that bears his name and ask, "Dad, who's Harry the K?". And I'll have to put this man's life work into words because they've never heard him call a ballgame live, never heard the joy with which he worked. That, more than anything, saddens me; not that he was taken from us, but rather, that the future was deprived of him.

Did you guys hear about Nick Swishers inning pitched yesterday? In the eight inning of a game the yankees ulitmatley lost 15-5 to the rays, Nick Swisher took the mound for the 8th inning and here's how he did.

— B.J. Upton walked
— W. Aybar singled to left, B.J. Upton to second
— G. Kapler struck out swinging
— C. Pena popped out to second
— P. Burrell flied out to center

About as good as you could expect from any mop-up middle relief outing. If anything, the K is pretty impressive.

Sorry if this has been posted already, but MLB.com has a nice video tribute to Harry that includes clips of him calling Schmidtty's 500th HR and the last pitch of the '08 WS.

http://mlb.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=4125871

Does anyone have an on-line link to a Kalas-Ashburn radiocast?

The team needs to retire his microphone and place a banner alongside the retired numbers, preferably next to #1.

I'd like to remind everyone that PECOTA predicted that Gabe Kapler would lead the Ray's in hitting.

Anyone get to check out that Mets-Padres game last night?

Pelfrey fell off of the mound. You just knew it was downhill after that. And the sweet, sweet irony of Duaner Sanchez and Heath Bell closing out the game to get the first win...

Alas, it still wasn't enough to lessen the impact of the loss of Harry. Even Schaudenfreude isn't helping me.

A lot of Harry's most memorable calls center around big home runs or game-ending strikeouts, and rightly so, as many were classics.

One of my favorite non-home run, non-strikeout calls was in the 80 NLCS, game 5, tie game, Manny Trillo at the plate. I was 5 years old and remember it vividly.

"The 1-strike pitch, Trillo a line drive, FAIR BALL! Left field line! Aviles scores! Here's Del Unser being waved around - he's gonna score! Manny Trillo...at third, a triple! Phillies lead it 7 to 5! What a comeback by this Fightin' buncha Phils!"

The Phils' bench was miked and they were going nuts. Larry Bowa jumping up and down like a maniac. My dad's in the living room going berzerk. And then, inexplicably, Disco Star Wars starts playing in the background! I guess that was their theme song that fall or something. Either way, it was a completely random occurence that somehow punctuated the joy of that moment.

That '80 run was my first taste of Phillies baseball. I've been hooked ever since. Thank you again for all of the great memories Harry!

Jim - of all Kalas' calls, that was the very best. I didn't follow baseball in 1980, but every single time I've heard/seen that clip, it gives me chills.

My other favorite Kalas call is from Game 1 of the '93 NLCS, Kim Batiste's game-winning "BASE HIT! BASE HIT!"

I also particularly loved his calls of the division clinchers the last two years.

But jeez, I can come up with so many right from the top of my head. I wouldn't know where to stop if I put a full list together.

One of my favorite Harryisms was one I never heard anyone but my dad or I mention. He always said stoled when someone stole a base. To this day I have to stop myself from saying it because my father and I always say it when we talk baseball. It was just an odd little quirk that I found endearing. The other thing he said differently than anyone else was O point. As in at the start of every season every pitcher's era is O point. 0.00. I never heard anyone else say it like that. Classic.

On another lighter note; I was just listening to Mike Francessa on The Fan. It sounds like Muts fans are none too taken with the new park. Is it wrong that I take glee in that?

The Mets will grow into it. It really is a very nice. Sorta makes me wish CBP borrowed more design elements from older parks... Shibe in particular.

donc: I'll miss those quirks, and others. I liked the way Kalas said 'Chicawgo' and 'Muntreal'. I liked the way balls were 'smothered' or 'laced' or 'rolled' or 'smashed'. Harry always had just the right verb at his disposal.

I just read a quote from Brad Lidge in the Daily News about how Kalas' call of his final World Series strikeout had just become much more meaningful: "To me, that will always be perfection, listening to him call that."

And to me.

I love the way Harry announced, "The Philadelphia Phillies are the 2008 world champions of basebawwwwwl."

On our way home from game 5, my cousin and I listened to that phrase over and over and over. We try to imitate it (and don't even get close). We'll never get tired of it.

Another underrated Harry and Whitey moment were the daily trivia questions they had, where Harry would give out a question in say, the 3rd inning, give everyone at home a chance to answer it, and then re-ask it in the 4th inning for Whitey.

Usually the answers went something like this:

Whitey: "How 'bout that Willie Stargell?"
Harry: "Good guess...IN-correct however."
Whitey: "Well then it must be that Dave Parker."
Harry: "Right you are, Whitey"

Loved it. Every time.

Harry was also the only one I ever heard say the batter "tires of waiting". Actually, I think others now use the phrase but that was a trademark Harry saying.

Jim - Trivia questions were classic essentially if Whitey was struggling and Harry was trying to give him some help before the inning finished.

Jim: That's great. That's exactly how it went!

Along the line of "Harryisms" I loved when the Phils would score their 11th run of the game and Harry would say "and the Phils take an eeeooooleven to 7 lead"

Jim P: That's a great one. E-oleven. How did I forget that one. Always loved the sneaky little laugh he had too. Like there was always a little more to every story than meets the eye.

I haven't bought any of these, but MLB.com has Classic Radio broadcasts for sale:

http://shop.mlb.com/family/index.jsp?categoryId=2217892&cp=1485908.2217872

I don't know if these are the Home or Away broadcasts...

I think I might want to grab one of these... put on my headphones sit on the porch and imagine what it was like to listen to this for the first time.

My Harry story:

I was about 10 years old at the time, growing up in Connecticut. Being reasonably far away from Philadelphia, I very rarely got to see the Phillies play on TV or hear them on the radio, much less see games at the Vet. Instead, the vast majority of my Phillies game viewing came via their occasional appearances on The Game of the Week or at Shea Stadium once or twice a year.

Like most kids, I would try like hell to get autographs during batting practice, etc., and would usually fail. At any rate, during one of my many attempts to get a Phillie, any Phillie, to sign an autograph for a Philadelphia fan in hostile territory, I noticed a older man walking down the first base line, wearing a tan sport coat with a PHILLIES LOGO.

As you might guess, this man unknown to me was none other than Harry. Not living in the Philly area, I was totally unfamiliar with Harry, but all I knew was that he had that magic logo and I was damned sure that I wanted his autograph. After all, if he got to wear that offical looking sport coat, he must be someone, right? At any rate, he of course came over to me when I begged for his autograph, and graciously signed for me. Then he said:

"You don't have any idea who I am, do you?"

"No sir," I said, "I don't."

I remember clear as day him smiling, handing me back his autograph, and saying "Well, it sure was a pleasure to meet you."

A lesser man might've been insulted that I had no idea who he was, but not Harry. He seemed honestly amused by the whole thing. My only regret is that I lost the autograph over time; I'd love to have it now.

Of the thousands upon thousands of baseball games Harry Kalas called, his final home game in Philadelphia was a ring ceremony.

Unreal.

I will really, really miss Harry. Really.

The other guys are good (I especially like Franzke), but I grew up with Harry.

It just won't be the same.


God bless Harry and the Kalas family.

A crappy thought just occured to me as I was sitting here:


They say bad things come in threes.


Adenhart, Fidrych, Kalas.


All too young.

Harry Kalas was a big part of my life since bringing my transistor radio to bed with me as a 10 year old to listen to the West Coast games late at night through being an almost 50 year old listening to the games in my backyard with a cold one on a Saturday afternoon or watching the World Series with my wife and kids and hearing him call the last out. It will still be good but it won't be great and that what Harry Kalas was....

How poetic, the "voice of summer" is exactly what made me fall in love with baseball!My elderly neighbor would have his radio (in the garage/clubhouse)tuned into "the game".The sound of the Phillies would drift over to our yard...I equate baseball to my lazy summer days, when my girls were growing up. I also fell in love with Harry!Anytime a game was on, my radio would be tuned in. Last year I even wore my earphones during the World Series, so I could hear Harry call the plays while I was at the ballpark,TV etc...God bless Harry the K. Rest in peace XOXOXO

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