Today, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, one of the last great broadcasters is being honored. Harry Kalas, as we are all aware of, passed away on Monday doing what he loved. Harry died in our nation’s capital, preparing for the Nationals opening day game versus the Phillies. He was 73 years young. During the off season, Harry had problems with circulation in his legs. He underwent surgery to correct the problem, which ultimately stemmed from his failing heart. He died of heart disease on Monday. How ironic this is, for a man who appeared to love his family, friends, co-workers, and fans so much.
He loved the players. He loved baseball. He loved his cigars. It’s a shame that a man with such a big heart, died from a disease that made his greatest quality as a human being fail.
As I watch the hundreds and thousands of people stroll by his beautiful white casket, basking in the sunshine at Citizens Bank Park, I can only think about all the great times I had as a child, teenager, and a man listening to his golden voice during every Phillies telecast. As each person touches his casket, I can only imagine what is going through their minds. People are crying, as his presence in that community will never be forgotten.
Today is a day to remember, to reflect in the city only known as the one that booed Santa Claus. Philadelphia fans are tough, sometimes ignorant, but one thing they will never be accused of is uncaring. This is a passionate city. The love affair that fans create with the players, teams, and organizations is second to none. All they ask is what anyone should. They want their heroes to give them effort on every pitch, play, and every night.
Harry wanted the same thing too. He wanted to be part of the ultimate celebration. It had been 28 years since the Phillies won their only championship. During the postseason of 1980, local stations were unable to carry the games, broad casted by the team’s announcers. The fans of Philadelphia, were unable to listen to their favorite son call the final out. The one where Tug McGraw, struck out Willie Wilson to end the Fall Classic. So, unable to repeat in 81, losing to the Orioles in 83, and then suffering through losing season after losing season, it seemed like the day would never come again. In 1993, my favorite of Harry’s calls took place. The Phillies were scheduled to play a double header against the San Diego Padres. However, game one, was delayed by rain, and then stopped in the middle with 2 other rain delays. To make a long story short, at 4:43 am, Harry described the near impossible. A game winning single by Mitch Williams, and Pete Incaviglia scoring from second. That season, Harry’s dream came to a close with a Joe Carter home run to end the Phillies title run.
Fifteen years later, the Phillies again, played in the Fall Classic. Harry, finally, had the opportunity to call the final pitch. You know, the one where Brad Lidge finishes his perfect season, the one where he drops to his knees with his arms raised to the sky, the one where Eric Hinske waves and misses at one last Lidge slider. Moments like that will live on in history. 100 years from now, Phillies fans will celebrate their championships. They will get to hear the voice that I grew up listening to. They will wonder what it would be like to have had him call their latest championship.
Fortunately for me and my family, we don’t have to dream. Thanks to the Phillies and the Kalas family for allowing fans the opportunity to say goodbye, to the man who meant so much to them.
Rest in peace, Harry. Thanks for all of the memories.