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News » Gonzo: Fanfare for an icon in a league of his own

Gonzo: Fanfare for an icon in a league of his own

Gonzo: Fanfare for an icon in a league of his own
On the day after Philadelphia lost its voice, a low, dark sky shrouded the city. It was fitting. As the rain came down yesterday, stories flooded the area. People wanted to share their memories of Harry Kalas. That was fitting, too.One guy saw Harry in a bar years back and went over to introduce himself.

Naturally, Harry invited him to sit down and have a drink. Someone else met Harry at a gas station. They swapped yarns while pumping unleaded.A couple sent an unsolicited letter to Harry imploring him to record something for their wedding. They didn't know him at all, but they felt as if they did. A week before the ceremony, a DVD arrived in the mail. Harry had put together an introduction for the bridal party, including a classic ending:"Ron and Kathleen, soon they'll be on a honeymoon. They'll be on a looonnnngggg drive. They'll be outta here!"It's what we do when we lose a loved one - we trade tales about the dearly departed. Some sad, some sentimental, some designed to make us laugh or smile and ease the pain, if only for a little while. It's cathartic. Soon enough, the Phillies will honor Harry in some special way. Whatever they come up with will undoubtedly be beautiful and touching - a real credit to a man who meant so much to so many for so long. Everyone around here has an idea about what the tribute should include. I heard one fan on the radio propose that the Phillies' broadcast booth should go silent during the seventh inning of every game to remind us what we once had, and what we'll always miss. Another person suggested that Citizens Bank Park should pump his famous "outta here" home-run call through the stadium loudspeakers whenever the Fightin's crush one into the seats. The thought I like best is one that a lot of people have had. I'm not sure who came up with it first. Maybe it was a collective, simultaneous epiphany. Anyway, it seems right: Henceforth, Phillies home games should include Harry's classic rendition of "High Hopes."In Boston, Red Sox fans sing Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" during the eighth inning. In the Bronx, after the Yankees win, Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" fills the stadium air. When the Bombers lose, they go with Liza Minnelli's version of the same song. And in Chicago, to honor the late, great Cubs announcer Harry Caray, they bring in all sorts of guests to sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" with the fans during the seventh-inning stretch.If it were up to me, Harry would be on the giant video scoreboard out in left field - the one that, appropriately, hangs just above Harry the K's restaurant - during the seventh inning of every game. "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" is a fun tune, and it's a Baseball tradition. But over the years, Harry's "High Hopes" became a tradition all our own. Harry was a great entertainer, a true showman. It would be wonderful if he could continue being just that. It's sad and impossible to accept that Harry won't call another game. But he can still serenade us, and what a comfort that would be.I was in New York the other day for the first Mets game at Citi Field - otherwise known to taxpayers as Bailout Bank Ballpark, or the Triple B if you prefer shorthand.It's a nice enough stadium, though it sits next to a crummy slum of dilapidated, one-story auto- parts stores on 126th Street. If you need discount mufflers or recycled windshield glass or used tires, you know where to go.On the whole, the locals seemed pleased with the Triple B, though some people weren't thrilled by how enclosed everything is there. There aren't many views of the outside world. Except for the Mets playing down on the field, you'd never know you're in New York. Maybe that's a good thing.Some of the other complaints I heard from Mets fans: Stadium workers were inexplicably dressed in maroon uniforms (a shade that resembled what the Phillies wore back in the '80s) instead of team colors. The seats are green rather than blue and orange like they were at Shea. And ticket prices are obscene. Everyone enjoyed the famous Shake Shack burgers, though.One final note about the Mets' new home: The outfield walls are a really strange color. At first glance, they look deep green or perhaps charcoal. On the way back to Philly , I was listening to WFAN-AM (660) when the host randomly started talking about that very thing. As it turns out, the color's proper name is "soot."Makes sense. When you burn your season to the ground year after year, that's all that's has a compilation of quotes about Harry Kalas. . . . Classy move by Jayson Werth, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino, Scott Eyre , and some of the other Phils to light up in Harry's honor before the Nationals game on Monday. . . . NFL Films will never be the same. Neither will the Puppy Bowl. . . . I rewatched the video of Harry's being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. His speech was even better than I remembered. One line choked me up: "We feel your passion through and through, Philadelphia fans, I love you." Right back at you, Harry.Contact columnist John Gonzalez at 215-854-2813 or

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 15, 2009

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