Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Remembering Harry the K

The death of Harry Kalas touched the entire baseball world, not just Philadelphia. Proof of that came when RomanWarHelmet, the resident Mets fan at Major League Jerk, asked me to write up a short tribute on Harry Kalas for the site. Here's the link, and I've reposted it below. Still can't believe he's gone.

Some of you may know me. Some of you may not. I go by the name of Reverend Paul Revere, proprietor of The House That Glanville Built, and I am Phillies fan. Spend two seconds and the site, and you know I live and die with the Phillies. Well today, a little piece of me died with the passing of Harry Kalas, and one of the few Mets fans I know and respect, RomanWarHelmet, asked me if I’d like to write something on the passing of Harry Kalas. I thank him for the opportunity. I just hope my words can do justice to a man that I will miss dearly.



The photo above is the Philadelphia Phillies radio/television broadcast team I grew up with as a child through the mid-80s and early 90s on. From left to right, they are Richie Ashburn, Andy Musser, Harry Kalas and Chris Wheeler. They are the men I grew up listening to. They taught me as much about baseball as my father did, as any coach did. It was an all-star crew, and the standouts were by far former Phillies great and Hall of Fame centerfielder Richie “Whitey” Ashburn and Harry Kalas, who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as an announcer in 2002.

The friendship between Ashburn and Kalas is the thing that stood out from my childhood. It was like two best friends who grew up in the neighborhood were watching the game together and having the same conversations they would when they were 16, only with a lot more baseball knowledge than the average fan emanating through the television screen. When Whitey died in 1997, it would have been perfectly understandable if Harry lost some of his passion, some of his joy of calling Phillies games. But he never did. Not once.

When I think of the Philadelphia Phillies, the first person who comes to mind is Harry Kalas. And I’m not saying that because he just died. It’s true. It always has been. Harry Kalas is synonymous with the Phillies. He’s more famous, more recognizable to Philadelphians than any player, and God knows how much Philadelphians know and recognize players, good and bad. His call of Mike Schmidt’s 500th home run is one of the greatest calls of all time. And his patented, “Swing and a long drive. Watch this baby, OUTTA HERE!” on home runs is just classic. Truly classic. It makes me sad that I’ll never hear that again.

The thing about Harry is he was more than just a broadcaster. He was sort of the grandfather of the Phillies for my generation. He wasn’t a journalist, per se. He was a fan who rooted for the Phillies with every call, but never allowed it to affect the way he called the game. He simply called it as he saw it. And with each word, you knew he truly loved it.

One of my prized possessions is the Harry Kalas/Richie Ashburn bobblehead that was passed out at Veterans Stadium after he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.



I remember the game like it was yesterday. The Phillies were playing the Cardinals, and before the game, Harry was driven around the warning track in a convertible, and Scott Rolen, who had recently left Philadelphia in a trade to the Cardinals and was not well-liked by the fans of Philadelphia at the time, was not in lineup. He had no reason to show his face in order to get booed by the Phillies fans. But when that convertible pulled up outside the Cardinals’ dugout, Scott Rolen came flying out to open the door for Kalas. Of course, once Rolen emerged, the boos rained down, but that’s how much Harry Kalas means to the players who had the honor of Harry Kalas calling their names. Boos be damned, Scott Rolen was going to show Harry Kalas just how much he loved him, respected him, no matter what. That speaks volumes itself.

From the “Mitchy Poo” to “Mickey Morandini” to “Chase Utley, YOU ARE THE MAN!”, Harry Kalas brought a smile to every Phillies fan’s, player’s, employee’s face. He was more than a broadcaster. He was a friend. Even if you never met him. In 1993, when the Phillies made a magical run to the World Series, he sang high hopes in the clubhouse with the team going wild. The players truly loved him, accepted him as one of the guys. Last year, he called the final out of the World Series, as the Phillies became World Champions in his final full season.



Those words will live with me forever. Last Wednesday, I was in attendance at Citizens Bank Park as Harry Kalas threw out the first pitch before the ring ceremony. Forever, I can say I was there when Harry Kalas threw out his final first pitch. I’m glad I did.

Love the Phils or hate the Phils, it was impossible to hate Harry Kalas. He was a lovable guy, a great announcer and a person who loved baseball as much as a human possibly can. For those of us that love the Phils, we love Harry Kalas. My cousin summed it up best in a text message he sent me after he heard the news:

He’s back with whitey and he got one more world series and got to broadcast with his son. I feel like a family member died.

That’s exactly how every Phillies fan feels, like a family member just died. In a way, one did. Watching and listening to Phillies games will just never, ever be the same. I love Harry Kalas. I will miss Harry Kalas. But I am incredibly happy I had to opportunity to grow up listening to Harry Kalas.

And I know, just like my cousin said, he’s up there in heaven right now, shooting the breeze with Whitey, calling another classic.

BallHype: hype it up!

12 comments:

  1. I will speak for the Yankees fans here and they will all agree with me anyone who doesn't will be fuckin killed cause they are MORONS. The times i got to hear Harry Kalas were great not only in listing to man speak who knew the game but also at the same time knew that you did not have to speak for an entire 9 innings and try to drown out the fans and the sounds of the game. Harry did let you hear the ball hit the glove and the bat hit the ball. He was as real as they come in terms of personality, game knowledge and humanity with connecting to the fan base of a team and a city......

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  2. (Con't)
    He also had one of the best voices for announcing as well. His voice was always calm sounding and was relaxing to hear, but also got you going when something exciting happened. I spent almost my entire car ride home from Philly yesterday listening to 950 ESPN (Philly) station and people were telling all the stories of Harry and listening to soundbites from his calls. And it reminded me of when Phill Rizzuto died a few years back. Most the city and old players who knew shared stories and they played some of his famous calls...

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  3. (Con't)
    These were all great announcers of generations of fans and Harry was part of this group. I wish we had him here in the Bronx he would have made some of our winning moments here way better then they were.
    R.I.P you'll be missed

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  4. On a side note to give you an idea we have 3 announcers here radio and TV who SUCK ASSHOLE so bad and know almost nothing about the game and will never ever be on the planet as Harry was. They are Susan Waldman, John Sterling and Michael Kaye. These people talk like they know all but know ZERO and they all think they are gods gift to broadcasting they have try to talk for an entire 9 innings and have the most annoying voices i have ever heard. It's just about impossible to enjoy a game when they won't SHUT THE FUCK up. and there interviews suck....

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  5. the former Yankee players that go on with them i like they know the game and have great stories to tell on side. but also don't always have to talk over everything. Waldman, Kaye and Sterling should be locked in a room for year with their eyes stapled open and made watch and listen to Harry's games and see how it's done then question them on it and see if they learn anything about how to call a game then killed.

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  6. 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. I love and miss you Harry, and so does all of baseball.

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  7. God bless ya, Harry. Listening to a Phillies game will never be the same. I just hope we can repeat and dedicate it to the greatest broadcaster in (Philadelphia) history!

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  8. RIP Harry.... It still really hasn't set in that he won't be calling Phillies games ever again. Philadelphia sports will never be the same.

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  9. Well said Rev. I also remember that Cardinals game like it was yesterday and I love that bobblehead. R.I.P. Harry, we'll miss you.

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  10. My dad liked to tell me a story about a charity golf tournament he played in. Each foursome had a celebrity included and my dad's group was given Harry Kalas. On the last hole, my dad had a drive that he caught all and it went straight down the fairway. Harry gave him the old, "It's a long drive, watch that baby, way outta here." I couldn't imagine a cooler moment then getting that call about your shot from Harry. The man was THE MAN.

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  11. Arkansas Fred, There is no way that story is true...If that happened to me, I'd have that story written on my tombstone.

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