I Remember Harry

kalas 1.jpgI’ve been covering the Phillies since April 2003, my first six seasons with The Philadelphia Inquirer before I joined MLB.com in February. Let me just say that everything that has been written and said about Kalas since he died yesterday is 100 percent true: he was one of the nicest people I’ve met. The man was an absolute legend, but he treated you like a friend — even if he had just met you.

Every day when I arrived at the ballpark and saw Harry, I would simply say, “H!” or “Harry!”

He always responded, “Todd … (insert that famous Kalas pause here) … how are you?”

“Good, Harry. Yourself?”

“Great.”

And he would walk into the broadcast booth or down a hallway to smoke, and I would walk into the press box or into the clubhouse for interviews. But he always smiled when he asked me how I was doing. Always smiled. I don’t think he ever had a bad day in his life. And every once in a while we would be in the press box dining room at the same time and he would say, “Mind if I join you guys?”

Uh, do we mind? Are you kidding?

I read Bob Brookover‘s story in today’s Inquirer about how Kalas came to his wedding. I read Jim Salisbury‘s story about Harry announcing the birth of his first two children on the air. I didn’t have experiences quite like that, but before I left for a good friend’s wedding in St. Kitt’s last summer, Harry and I were taking the elevator from the Citizens Bank Park pressbox to the clubhouse. We were walking toward the clubhouse when I said, “Hey, Harry, a buddy of mine is a huge Phillies fan and is getting married this weekend. If I flipped on my tape recorder could you say a few words to him?”

He stopped walking, put down his coffee, looked me in the eye and said, “What are their names?” I told him and he took it from there, finishing with “I’m outta here!”

It was a hit at the reception.

I told Harry about a week later how much people enjoyed it. He smiled and said, “That’s great. I’m glad they liked it.”

But he didn’t do that for me just because I knew him. He did that for everybody. He never rolled his eyes when somebody asked him to record their outgoing voice mail. He never said no. He genuinely enjoyed making other people happy. He knew the impact he had on people.

I’ll miss him.

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Kalas coverage, including stories, video and more, can be found here.

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14 Comments

Making sure your audience here knows about the Harry Kalas Remember MLBlog at http://rememberingharry.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/04/harry-kalas-1936-2009.html – wonderful comments there and add yours to them.

Mark/MLB.com
http://mlblogs.mlblogs.com

Great, Todd. Just when I thought I had stopped crying! LOL! Thanks for that great memory. Here are a few more. Most of which we heard at some point during the day, yesterday…….

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/nl/2009-04-13-3982802005_x.htm

Thanks, Todd for your reminisces of Harry. They add to the many tributes I’ve heard. The stories everyone has told are so special and describe such a unique individual who managed to touch so many folks.

Please pass on a note of thanks to the entire Phillies broadcast team. They announced yesterday’s game with such grace and class. We are so fortunate to have these folks with us to describe our beloved Fightin’ Phils each season.

I second what Norma said…just when I think I am cried out I read something like this, and again the tears come. I didn’t realize that Harry didn’t call the 1980 WS because I was just 10 at the time but finding that out adds to the fact of how awesome it was that the team could win it last year.

We need to start a petition. The man needs a statue at CBP. No “we’ll rename the broadcast booth for him”. It needs to be something the fans can see and touch. And perhaps multimedia, where you can press a button and hear one of say 5 calls he made (and one of those had to be MJS 500 HR, no doubt). Let’s get Harry a statue!!

Sorry, Jimmy Dugan. Sometimes there IS crying in baseball.
That’s what makes it so great.
I doubt you’ll ever find another announcer in any sport that can envelope so much emotion from so many people.
I feel blessed to have been able to have existed during Harry’s lifetime. His voice is engraved in my brain forever.

I was listening to ESPN radio this morning, and they played another great Harry call. Chase’s walk-off single to score Iguchi, and complete a 4 game sweep of the Mets, in ‘o7. A full count. Off Wagner……..

“Line drive hit to right field! Here comes Iguchi! The throw to the plate…..safe! (Sarge freaking out in the background!) No way! 11-10 on an rbi single by Chaaase Utley!”

Another Harry classic!

You’re right Norma! That is a classic Phillies moment (anything at the Mets expense is awesome!)

I of course love his 2006 call “Chase Utley you are the man!” And his nickname for Howard “The Big Man”

Todd,
Please keep us updated on any tributes the Phillies have planned for Harry, plus if there will be a public memorial service.

Thanks

Chris

I always felt like he was just a seamless a part of my life and I guess I took him for granted. And oddly, I was as happy for Harry as I was for any single Phillie Phan that I know when they won that World Series and I listened to his call. When I saw him celebrating, I laughed out loud. His joy was my joy. In fact, his joy made mine even better. He really ‘got’ us.

How can it be that I’ll miss someone I met once years ago so much?

When they showed Harry’s “Chase Utley, you are the man!” call yesterday, I thought I was going crazy. I didn’t remember it being a hustle from 2nd to home. They play it lot in Phillies’ commercials, showing Chase making a great diving play. I guess I saw THAT so much, that’s how I remembered the call playing out! LOL!

There’s just soooo many great Harry calls!

Could the Phils organization record some of those awesome and beloved calls of Harry’s and put them on the website for all to enjoy? It would be a real treat for those of us who aren’t in the Philly area to hear all of the tributes and things being played on TV, etc. Mahalo plenty!

Great idea.

You just know the Phils will put out a DVD. I think there’s already an audio CD, of some past calls. Not sure how far back, in Phillies history, it goes. Definitely not the WS win call.

Harry Kalas you will always be THE man!

My contribution to the endless list of Harry Kalas memories:

What Harry the K meant to me

I still remember getting a clock radio from my parents when I was in grade school. I remember thinking my parents must be the dumbest people in the world because at age 7 or 8, my bed time was 9:00, but no Phillies night game was ever over by 9:00. So, once I was tucked in and my parents left the room, the first thing I did was reach over and turn on the Phillies game on the radio. I spent countless nights in my childhood drifting asleep to the sounds of Harry and Whitey calling what seemed to be loss after loss (this was the late 1980s and early 90s).
I now realize my folks knew just what they were doing—it’s much easier convincing a bratty elementary school child to go to bed when he knows he can get to listen to the game. I never did stay awake through the final pitch until the night the Phils won the NL East in Pittsburgh in 1993. Yet, I seemed to spend my final waking moments for a large portion of my childhood listening to Whitey’s whit and Harry’s incessant optimism in a town of pessimists (I’m sure he was the only one who thought the Phils could overturn a 7 game deficit with 17 to play in 2007, and I’m sure he was the only one who believed they could overcome a 10-run 1st inning deficit against Pittsburgh in 1989).
I was too young in 1997 to fully appreciate the loss of Richie Ashburn to Phils’ fans. I’m still young, but I fully appreciate the loss of Harry Kalas. Harry was broadcasting for the Phillies for a dozen years by the time I was born. To me, Harry Kalas was not just the voice of the Phillies, he WAS the Phillies. Excluding national broadcasts, I have NEVER experienced a Phillies game without Harry the K. Even when I go to games, I catch his voice during the pre- or postgame show on the radio. For so many nights in my childhood, he was my only connection to the Phillies. I was not around to experience anything before Harry.
On a nice warm summer night with the windows open, I often still hear Harry calling some old Phillies game. Although I only met the man once, I feel like I went to bed with him (in a purely platonic way) hundreds of times. Harry was more than the voice of the Phillies; he was their heart and soul. I think Jayson Stark got it right when he said that in Philadelphia, if Harry didn’t call it, it’s like it never happened. No Phillies game will ever be the same–I will never be able to sit outside on a beautiful Sunday afternoon listening to the Phillies without thinking of Harry.
My heart goes out to the Kalas family and Phillie fans around the world; I’m just so happy he lived long enough to call the Phils’ World Series victory last fall—I know it always bothered him that he was not allowed to call the 1980 World Series. The world paid Harry back with that championship for all the joy that he brought to so many fans for so many years. Rest in peace, Harry, and if there is a heaven, I am sure we will be selected to broadcast every ball game played there.

Go Phils!

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