For over 38 years, if you tuned in to a Phillies game on tv or the radio, he was there. The distinct voice that could paint for you with words how the Phillies had just hit a clutch home run with his signature “Outta Here…Home Run, Michael Jack Schmidt!!”, or a dramatic no-hitter... "Line Drive…Great Grab Charlie Hayes…Terry Mulholland has pitched a no-hit, no run game here at Veteran’s Stadium…”, or some of the most memoriable moments in Phillies history, including game 5 of the World Series this past year with… "Swing and A Miss…Stuck Him Out…The Philadelphia Phillies are the 2008 World Champions of Baseball!!”
Phillies baseball will always be associated with Harry Kalas along with his sidekick for many years in the booth Rich Ashburn. I had only met Harry a couple of times in my life, once at a Phillies Banquet in the 1990s and also at the annual Phillies ALS fundraiser night at the ballpark. Of course it wasn’t much more than shaking his hand, saying how he was one my favorite announcers of all time, and giving him my best impersonation of one of his home run calls. Many loved his signature calls…and there was only one Harry Kalas.
If you’re not a fan of Phillies baseball, you probably heard him broadcasting NFL games on Westwood One Radio, Notre Dame Football, NFL Films game highlights, including a few treasured moments in Packers history, and yes even Campbells Chunky Soup ads. Kalas was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002 in Cooperstown and deservingly so.
I have so many memories of listening to Harry on radio and watching his broadcasts on TV, including Mike Schmidt’s 500th home run, the final out of the 1993 NLCS in the Phillies win over the Braves (which I was lucky enough to be at in person), and being right here in the weather lab with Harry calling the final innings of the 2008 World Series while watching the game on tv. Probably one of the more personal memories is when he wished me a happy 16th birthday during a Phillies game. Harry was one of the few play-by-play announcers that folks would send in notes to, passing along birthday wishes, get well soon wishes, or a happy wedding anniversary request. I was at that game that night when in the 5th inning while the Phillies were at bat, he did another one of his signature lines…”and we’d like to wish a Happy 16th Birthday to Jeremy Tabin, who is here at the park tonight…best wishes from us and the Phillies.”
I am so glad I had the opportunity to hear his last inning of work on the radio through mlb.com, the 4th inning of the Rockies vs. Phillies on Sunday afternoon. The Phils did score a run in the top of the 4th and made a pitching change in the bottom of the inning, but no home runs at least during that one little part of the game. I flew home to attend the parade and championship ceremonies at Citizens Bank Park on October 31, 2008, which was hosted by none other than Harry and to see his reaction as that last out of the World Series was made by Brad Lidge. When my dad called on Monday afternoon to tell me he’d passed away, we were both in tears. It is a huge loss in the baseball world and certainly for all Phillies fans near and far. Thanks for the memories Harry. We’ll never forget you.
Here are a few highlights from a long and storied career: