A little of my childhood died today with Harry Kalas

kalas_275x235Today the Philadelphia Phillies lost one of the true icons of not just this city, but from within the game of baseball. Harry Kalas was the voice of baseball in my youth – he and Richie Ashburn brought both radio and TV to games to millions of fans for decades. It never seemed the same when Ashburn died in 1997, and now that last tie between my childhood and today is gone.

I played a lot of baseball as a kid, and I dreamed of one day playing for my beloved Phillies. I pretended to hit home runs in the backyard and would mimic Kalas’ “Outta Here” home run call as I did it. For me, I couldn’t watch every game – I often listened on my little Radio Shack AM radio. The game is so different these days. With so many mediums for tracking sports, as well as so many distractions, the day of the old school broadcaster that became the image of a team, is a thing of the past. I feel lucky that I was able to enjoy the game through Harry for so many years.

Last week I went to go see the Phillies get their World Series rings on a crisp cool Wednesday day game. Harry the K through out the first pitch and then Kristen and I got a bite to eat at the restaurant in left field that bears Harry’s name. The Phillies eventually fell behind 10-2 by the seventh inning, at which point we left the game. The Phillies eventually came back and won that game. Harry Kalas had to watch a lot of bad games in his years, and he couldn’t leave.

I am so happy that Harry had a chance to call a World Series victory and see his Phillies win. Within hours of the victory, I received a number of links to Harry’s call of the last pitch of that game because everyone knew, it’s not a big game in Philadelphia without hearing Harry’s call. My heart is heavy today and I honestly shed a tear for Harry.

Rest in Peace Harry – Philadelphia will miss you.

Other tributes from around the web:

  • A.V. Jones

    Thanks for sharing a piece of history with us; your personal history and baseball history.

  • radiocynic

    I was looking for a forum to say something, since I don’t really maintain my own blog, so thanks, Spencer.

    Very nicely written, as always.

    I didn’t really pay much attention to baseball until I was a teen, (other than thinking that Cookie Rojas had a cool name,) so for me, Harry Kalas was the voice of baseball for the entire time I was paying attention.

    SO many people have said something similar to what I’m about to say, but I just wanted to add personal testimony to the fact that Harry Kalas was a genuinely nice and caring guy. I only met him in person once, at a radio luncheon at which he was honored. I went over to congratulate him and introduce myself as a big fan. Not only was he gracious and seemed to truly appreciate the congratulations, but — just like so many others’ stories have attested — damned if he didn’t take the time and effort to say he listened to me on the radio and enjoyed my work. This, of course, despite the fact that he had a zillion times the fame and radio talent than this measly traffic reporter would ever have. This really flattered me, and years later I still remember it pretty vividly. I can only imagine the thousands of people whose lives were made a little better by such moments of kindness. The world would be a better place if everyone would try to take those few extra seconds to say something complimentary about the person they’re talking to. And even if he hadn’t been the defining baseball voice of our generation, I trust that the world was made better while Harry Kalas was in it.

  • Spencer

    @radiocynic – Thanks for sharing that story. I love hearing all these stories from all walks of life because it just confirms that Harry was the best.

    Sad to lose him, but glad we had him.