This has been a tough year for Phillies fans that grew up in the 70’s as I did. First Harry Kalas and now Danny Ozark. Ozark was not as beloved as Kalas – he managed the Phils for 7 years and never made the World Series, but without him, the Phillies don’t win the series in 1980. Those teams he had in the 70’s were fun to watch – Cash, Bowa, Maddox, Schmidt, Luzinski, Carlton, Johnstone, McGraw, among others.
No he didn’t win the series, but he set the stage and was part of the most successful stretch in history for the Phillies – from 1976-1983.
Ozark is survived by his wife, Ginny, two children and three grandchildren.
Today 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.