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Harry Kalas was the Phillies' one constant

Harry Kalas was the Phillies' one constant
Be comforted with the knowledge of this -- Harry Kalas went out exactly the way he would have wanted.

He took his last meaningful breath in a Baseball pressbox, preparing for a ballgame.

It's where he loved to be most, where he was determined to be, even though he was reportedly in failing health.

I've heard basketball coaches tell me they loved the game so much they'd prefer to die at midcourt after a big win.

I've heard golfers say that if they have to go, let it be right at the 18th hole after they've played the round of their lives.

Kalas loved no place more than being behind a microphone at a ballpark and so it was fitting that's where he made his exit.

He was Philadelphia's most beloved sports figure.

That's because, while players and coaches come and go,teams rise and fall, and even stadiums are blown up and built, Philly's sports fans could count on one thing since 1971 -- Baseball described by Harry Kalas.

He has been the one constant through the Phillies' dreadful years and the golden ones.

If you loved Phillies Baseball, he was your tour guide through 38 summers and it was comforting hearing Kalas' voice coming through your radio whether you were fishing on a lake in the Poconos or baking on a beach at the shore.

He could even get you through a few Route 22 or Expressway traffic jams.

If you were at home, you didn't have to sit in front of your TV to watch every pitch. All you needed was the sound turned up and Kalas' distinctive voice giving you the pitch-by-pitch in the background.

Even if you didn't ROOT for the Phils, you admired Kalas because he wasn't a blatant homer. Yes, he'd get more excited when the Phillies did well, but he respected the other team's players, too.

Kalas always put the game first. He wasn't into gimmicks, silly catch-phrases (his trademark Outta here! was about it) or contrived schtick. He didn't bombard you with lectures about how the game should be played.

He knew Philly fans didn't need to be taught the game, so he never talked down to them.

He just called the game as it unfolded and let them form their own opinions.

But don't think for a minute that Kalas was just a voice; the one famously seasoned with lots of cigarettes and bourbon.

He knew the game, studied it.

Those who saw him regularly in the corridor behind the broadcasting booths at Citizens Bank Park or in the media dining room or elevator seldom saw him without a stash of stat sheets or media guides under his arm.

I'll never forget the day last spring that Kalas came to Allentown for the Phillies exhibition game against the IronPigs to open Coca-Cola Park.

During the middle innings when Kalas was off the air, he wandered into the auxiliary media room and was frantic to get caught up with all the lineup changes and what each batter had done.

This was a meaningless exhibition game with the Phillies eager to get it over with and get out of town.

Kalas could have coasted and no one would have noticed.

But he really wanted to know those changes and what was going on, just in case someone was listening to him for the first time.

That's what a professional is all about.

Philly fans heard that professionalism come through their TVs and radios and appreciated Kalas for it because Philly fans expect -- no, make that demand -- an effort.

In retrospect, it's perfect that Kalas' final full season ended with his beloved Phillies winning it all and him there to make the final call. Remember in 1980 absurd MLB rules prohibited the hometown guys from doing the TV and radio broadcasts of World Series games. At least now, they can do local radio.

And if you believe in a next life, you relish the notion of Kalas reuniting with his pal and sidekick Richie Ashburn, the guy Harry referred to lovingly as "His Whiteness."

You've heard of "Field of Dreams?" For Phillies fans, their "Broadcast booth of dreams" is now back intact.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: April 15, 2009

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