Monday, April 13, 2009

Harry Kalas (1936-2009)

To me Harry Kalas, as much as anyone in sports, understood that sports is about the fan. He understood what Autographs and Photos meant to them and was always accommodating. This is what gave Harry Kalas the "everyman" quality. He was like a regular guy that just happened to have the great job of broadcasting the Philadelphia Phillies.

I will likely have a couple of Harry Kalas columns over the next week, but I will need to take some time to get my thoughts together and give the posts the proper care. Until then I would like to pass along some of the more interesting tidbits that come to mind.

Harry Kalas called every one of Michael Jack Schmidt's 548 Career Home Runs. I doubt anybody has called more homers by a single player.

Harry Kalas was the Phillies broadcaster since 1971, He covered over 6000 games. Prior to that he was the original broadcaster for the Houston Colt 45s and Astros.

I am 41 years old and Harry Kalas is the only Phillies Primary broadcaster that I have ever known.

In addition to Phillies Baseball, Kalas covered college basketball locally and NFL football for Westwood One.

He has also been the voice of NFL films and many a commercial.

Kalas was the final speaker at the closing ceremonies of Veteran's Stadium. He also removed the "one game to go banner" during the game.

Harry Kalas threw out the first pitch prior to the Phillies ring ceremony game this Past Thursdsay. This was the last Phillies home game Harry ever covered.

As a youngster Kalas grew up as a Washington Senators Fan. He said that during a rain delay at his first game, Mickey Vernon took the young Harry Kalas into the Senators dugout and introduced him to his teammates. Kalas said right then he was a baseball fan and a Senators Fan.

Today he died in Washington D.C. The home of the team he once rooted for, He likely passed away in the broadcast booth - where he performed the job he loved.

As you may know, Harry's Son Todd covers the Tampa Bay Rays. In a recent interview, Harry Kalas spoke of how special it was to cover the 2008 World Series and he said it was even more rewarding knowing that his son covered the games for the opposition.

Due to the MLB broadcasting exclusivity rights of the time Kalas was unable to call the Phillies 1980 World Championship. If you ever hear him calling Tug McGraw's strikeout, it was dubbed in after the event. The exclusivity arrangement was altered three years after the 1980 season to allow local radio to carry their own broadcasters. Harry Kalas credited the fans of Philadelphia for getting the broadcasting rules changed.

It would take 28 years but this Past October Harry Kalas did get to call the final out of a Phillies World Series victory.

7 comments:

Jim said...

Tough day for Phillies fans. At least he's with Whitey again.

PTBNL said...

Harry will be sorely missed by all Phillies fans, including me. I don't think I've ever teared up at the passing of someone I didn't know until today. Harry's voice was an integral part of my childhood and for that I will be forever grateful.

night owl said...

I was watching the Cubs game and they were in a rain delay, and Pat Hughes, the famous Chicago broadcaster, was talking about Harry Kalas. I didn't know a lot about Kalas, but I found out some key things in that one conversation.

I thought the story about Harry being 10 years old and being at a Washington Senators game was especially interesting. Mickey Vernon pointed to Harry and told him he could sit in the dugout with the players. From that point on, Harry was a baseball fan and a Mickey Vernon fan.

That really struck me.

PTBNL said...

The ebay vultures are out in full force on this death now too. I really wish I'd bought his Sweet Spot auto a few months ago when I first thought about it.

capewood said...

I remember when Harry the K came to Philadelphia back in 1971. 1971 was around when I started paying to baseball. I spent many a long summer night listening to Kalas and Ashburn on the radio. I don't think there was ever a better team in the broadcast booth.

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