I Remember Harry
I’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?”
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.
Kalas coverage, including stories, video and more, can be found here.