Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Passing of A Legend

While enjoying a day off yesterday and getting ready for the Phillies/Nats game on MLB Extra Innings I was shocked and dismayed to find out that long time Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas had passed away suddenly before the game. It is hard to describe how much Harry Kalas meant to sports fans, especially those from Philadelphia. Harry was Philadelphia, he was Summer, he was baseball. The Phillies and the city of Philadelphia will be hard pressed to replace the legend that was Harry Kalas.

Ever since I was old enough to know what baseball was, I have listened to Harry Kalas. As a child I grew up with him, watching the Phillies back in the days when they were on PRISM and WB17. His deep, smoky voice which some thought to be boring always sounded perfect for baseball to me. He let the game play itself out, describing the plays with the perfect amount of words, and always had some great stories to tell about a player or a team. When the Phils gave up a game winning shot in the 9th inning, Harry summed it up perfectly with an "ohhh there it goes", but it was his trademark "Watch that baby, OUTTA HERE!" that made every home run for the good guys so special. Through the bad years (and there were many) in Philadelphia baseball, Harry was the constant. I'm sure Phillies fans can all remember calls like "Two run home run Rrrrruben Amaro Jr.!!!" or "What a play by Kim Batiste!" or "Tommy Greene struck him ouuuuut!" even though they may not remember the player or the horrific season that was. In the good years he made it all seem that much better with lines like; "A game winning hit for Mitchie Poo!!" or "Jimmy Rollins you are the maaan!!". His voice and his personality made every game memorable and was the epitome of Phillies baseball.

Not only will Harry be missed for calling the games; he will be missed for what he meant. Hearing Harry Kalas meant that you knew that warm weather and summer were coming. As a kid this meant no school, no responsibilities and lots of fun. Hearing Harry's voice most recently for us Phillies fans also represented the one thing we had waited for for so long: a World Series Championship. The fact that he got to live long enough to see and call the first championship in 25 years in Philadelphia seems so special now. Finally, hearing Harry Kalas made one inevitably think of Philadelphia. Whether it be on the Lehigh/Lafayette rivalry video (check it out), NFL Films, Campbell's Chunky Soup commericals, Puppy Bowls or on Comcast Sports Net, hearing that voice always made me think of where I grew up. I don't think a Phillies game will ever sound quite right again without him. We'll miss you Harry.

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