Monday, April 13, 2009
RIP Harry Kalas
Just received news of the untimely passing of Harry Kalas, the voice of the Phillies and NFL Networks among other things.
He will be both globally and locally missed, by everyone.
Given a unique opportunity to skulk around the inner workings of Veteran's Stadium many years ago, I remember the one time I met the man and saw the voice I grew up hearing on the radio. As one of the two idiots that manned the "Schill-o-Meter, I got to do a lot of things the average baseball fan could only think about. My mother, a lifelong Phillies fan grew up listening to games on the radio, and even though by the early 80s games had moved to television, she never gave up her preferred medium. While it's true what many say that baseball is a sport that is easily enjoyed over the radio, it certainly takes a smart, sharp mind to convey the action that is happening on the field. One must inform, emote and entertain all at once to provide the perfect experience.
And Harry Kalas did all that and more.
Diminutive in size, I could hardly believe the barritone voice I listened to every night, yet there it was as he introduced himself and said a few nice words about what we were doing. He then went on, wondering about the correct pronunciation of "the Schill-o-meter," and asking which syllable received the emphasis. Here was a legend asking me how he should pronounce the bedsheet we duct taped to the top of the Vet every fifth day. Startled and humbled by the question, I immediately told him it was whatever he thought it should be.
He gave a polite laugh, and said no, he was just the broadcaster. He asked us a couple more questsions about this and that, politely listened to our rambling fandom and then excused himself, off for a bite to eat and to prepare for the broadcast.
I never got the feeling he ever thought of himself as anything more than a fan. And that could be heard in every game he called.
If there's any good to come from today's news, it's that the Phillies couldn't have picked a better year to win the whole thing. That Kalas got to witness it and call it the way he did for the entire city was magical and I wouldn't have wanted anyone else to share in the emotion.
Goodbye, Mr. Kalas. I can only imagine the games you and Ashburn will be able to call now.