Remembering Harry Kalas

Posted by Danielle Wilson

Two years ago, on this day, Philadelphia lost one of the greatest voices in the world; Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Kalas. The voice of the Phillies. The voice of our summers. The voice of Veterans Stadium and Citizens Bank Park. The voice of the 2008 World Series champions. There is absolutely no way that anyone could ever forget Harry calling everything that led up to the last out of  Brad Lidge's perfect 48 for 48 save season as he struck out Eric Hinske to win the series for the Phillies against the Rays, making them world (expletive) champions.

Not only was it the World Series call that made him unforgettable, but of course all of the memorable moments in Phillies history, such as Mike Schmidt's five hundredth homerun, Mitch Williams closing out games in the 1993 postseason, and many more fond memories which led up to the 2008 World Series.

You will never forget where you were when you found out that Harry Kalas had passed away in Washington, D.C. during a Nationals series.

Everyone was heartbroken, and everyone cried. It was without a doubt the saddest day in the history of the Philadelphia Phillies. It was agonizingly painful to watch the Phillies and Nationals share a moment of silence on that day, and just as painful to see Harry's casket being carried onto the field and into the hurse just days later, by Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jayson Werth, and the rest of the Phillies. The Phillies wore an HK patch over their hearts for the remainder of the season, and fans all over the area bought shirts with the patch on it, too. Since that day, Harry's rendition of Frank Sinatra's "High Hopes" has been played at the end of every ball game at Citizen's Bank Park.

His voice will forever be the soundtrack of the Phillies. He was there for it all for 38 years, even when the fightins fought through tough battles until 2007, when they made it to the postseason for the first time since 1993. More recently, he was there in spirit when the Phillies won the Division Series and Championship Series in 2009, and he was there in spirit when the players came out of the clubhouse (cigars in mouth and champagne in hand) and gave Harry's memorial banner in left field a nice round of high fives, and a few showers of beer and champagne. The fans wanted the Phillies to win it all in 2009 for Harry, but the Yankees had other plans for the Phils. That did not mean that they wouldn't stop fighting for the crown in 2010.

The 2011 season will be another victorious one, because the Phillies have it all including the greatest voice in their heads to remind them everyday that they should have high hopes. These games will forever more be for you, Harry. Philadelphia loves you, the players love you, and we here at Philliedelphia love you.

Rest in peace.

From Philliedelphia blogger Mike Frohwirth:

It seems like I spent almost my entire life listening to Harry call
Phillies games. As a youngster, I listened to him on WCAU 1210 from my
radio. Later, I was fortunate enough to be able to watch him broadcast
games on cable, MLB.TV, and MLB Extra Innings. He was the voice of my
childhood. He was the constant in my life as a Phillies fan.

I'm still shocked that he is gone. I'm still saddened that I will
never hear him call a Phillies game again. I'm disappointed that he
didn't get to visit the White House with the WFC. I'm frustrated that
we will never be able to celebrate Harry's memorable career with him,
in a massive retirement ceremony at CBP.

But I feel privileged to have been able to hear him on thousands of
Phillies broadcasts. I feel honored to have heard him voice so many
great moments in Phillies history. Mike Schmidt's 500th home run. The
great teams of the 70s. 1983. 1993. I'm glad that he got to enjoy the
1980 and 2008 World Championship seasons. I'm pleased that he was able
to take part in the WFC Parade, and the WFC Ring Ceremony. And I'm
happy that he is reunited with Whitey now.

Thanks for everything, Harry. YOU are the man.

From Philliedelphia blogger Stephen Gallo:

When I think of Phillies baseball, I think of Harry Kalas.

I was 12 years old when my parents split up, and was moving back to Philadelphia with my mother. I'd be starting high school that September. That summer, I didn’t know anybody. I hadn’t lived in Philly for years, so I had lost contact with everyone I knew when I lived there before (of course, this was before the days of Facebook, Twitter, or even AIM). I had no friends, but I had Phillies baseball and Harry Kalas as their voice to pass the time.

Of course I was young and jobless, so the best part of every day was watching the Phillies and teaching myself how to keep a baseball score book. That was the summer I fell in love with baseball, more specifically the Phillies and their golden voiced announcer, Harry Kalas.

The way Harry told the story of each game was magical. Even back then, when our Phillies were dreadful, he made watching every game an event, and I didn’t want to miss a single one. He had charisma and a love for the game of baseball which I had never heard before. His calls, whether for a first inning homerun or for a game ending double play, always shot chills straight through me. He had a gift.

As I wrote a few weeks ago to celebrate Harry’s birthday, I’ll never forget how I felt when I heard of Harry’s passing. I felt like I had lost a close friend.

Harry’s memory lives on. His famous homerun call, as well as his favorite song “High Hopes” are still staples at the ballpark for every game. He is responsible for so many Phillies fans’ love of the game, including this one.

From Philliedelphia blogger Christina Angelos:

 My favorite memory of Harry Kalas is from the 2008 World Series. Harry was finally able to do in 2008 what he had been waiting to do for 43 years. He was unable to call the final out of the 1980 World Series because local radio broadcasters were blocked out from the playoffs and the World Series.


Also, he stayed with the leftover fans that were still in the stadium. He had his own little speech for those fans. As you may know we were not suppose to win anything… If you remember his speech, it was definitely special; afterwards he sang "High Hopes".

Now after every game, we are still able to listen to his voice during the home games. Oh yeah, he was able to share a World Series with his children, which made it memorable for him. The Philadelphia Phillies had high hopes and still do…. Well, Harry, you are the man!

From Philliedelphia Blogger Frank Klose:

I was seven years old when I became a baseball fan, thanks to the lure of baseball cards and playing catch with the two boys next door. I still distinctly remember the first Harry Kalas call that resonated with me:

"Long drive, left-center field! Home run, Chris James!"

That call has stuck in my head since. Looking it up, that game was July 17, 1988. I am not sure I would even remember Chris James for any other reason than his being the first home run call I ever heard from Harry Kalas.

I was fortunate enough to meet Harry in September 2007 at RFK Stadium. Apparently, the press box food was as lousy as the stadium itself, and all the broadcasters came out to eat something in one concession area available to fans. As Sarge ventured over to Cluck-U Chicken, Harry stepped towards the balcony area overlooking D.C. to have a cigarette, and I followed, getting the chance to shake his hand and pose for a picture.

On Easter Sunday, 2009, as my mother-in-law gave us our Easter baskets, she asked me about Harry Kalas.

"I don't think he looks too good," I told her.

The next day I stepped onto the treadmill to attempt to burn off the previous day's Cadbury Creme Eggs and put my television on, and my fears were realized: Harry was gone.

We all lost a loving grandfather that day: one who kept us happy and optimistic when things were not going so well; who experienced the good and the bad alongside us through our life's journey. But we could not help but smile, for we knew he finally got to call a World Series victory just months before. Mission accomplished.



 Philliedelphia leaves you with Harry's Hall of Fame induction poem:


This is to the Philadelphia fan.To laud your passion as best I can.

Your loyalty is unsurpassed.Be the Fightins in first or last.

We come to the park each day,looking forward to another fray.

Because we know you’ll be there,we know you really care.

You give the opposing pitcher fitsbecause as one loyalist shouts, everybody hits.

To be sure in Philly, there might be some boos.Because you passionate fans, like the manager, hate to lose.

Your reaction to the action on the field that you impart,spurs as broadcasters to call the game with enthusiasm and heart.

We feel your passion through and through.Philadelphia fans, I love you.


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