Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Rest in peace Harry Kalas
Posted by John McHale
If you don't mind I'd like to take a break from blogging about the U.S. military budget cuts or President Obama's economic stimulus package to remember my favorite baseball announcer, Harry Kalas, long-time play-by-play man for the current World Champion Philadelphia Phillies.
Mr. Kalas passed away yesterday after suffering a heart attack in the broadcast booth at a Phillies game.
He'd been calling games for the Phillies since 1971, pretty much my whole life. I grew up listening to Harry and his partner in the booth Ritchie "Whitey" Ashburn in the 1970s and 80s on television and radio. When the Phillies were on national television I would turn down the volume and put Harry on the radio.
I'm sure it's the same for Tiger fans who grew up with Ernie Harwell or for generations of Cubs fans who listened to Harry Carey. There's something so familiar about hearing their voice call a game, bringing you back to when you were a kid and all that mattered was baseball, comic books, etc.
I've been far away from the Philadelphia for more than a decade, but recently during the National League Championship Series I heard Harry do the intro on Fox for Game 1 and it brought me right back...
Whenever a Phillie would hit a homerun, Harry would say .. "that ball is outta here!!! Home Run," The Bull Greg Luzinski or Bake McBride, or Ryan Howard. Etc.
My favorite one was when home run king and Phillie third baseman Mike Schmidt hit his 500th home run. If I remember correctly it was in the 9th inning of a game against the Pirates in Pittsburgh and it turned out to be the game winner that night. Harry got emotional and his voice cracked when he yelled "Number 500!!!! Michael Jack Schmidt!!!"
He really loved the Phillies. I saw a report on ESPN last night that before the last game he called he threw out the first pitch and in the last post-season game he called, the Phillies won the World Series.
So long Harry Kalas and thanks for decades of memories.