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News » Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch 2009-04-14

Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch 2009-04-14

Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch 2009-04-14
The back row of the Phillies' charter airplane had always been a players-only zone.

Then, Harry Kalas came along.

Kalas, the team's Hall of Fame broadcaster, was beloved by fans and revered as the "Voice of the Phillies" since 1971. But he also was so well-respected and endeared by Phillies players that an exception was made to allow Kalas to sit in the back row.

So, something was amiss Sunday night when Kalas didn't take his normal seat for the flight from Denver to Washington.

"He said, 'It's not right,'" said Larry Andersen, the former relief pitcher turned broadcaster. "He wasn't feeling well. Maybe it was an omen."

Kalas was found unconscious in the Phillies' broadcast booth at 12:30 p.m. Monday. He was rushed by ambulance to the George Washington University Medical Center and died at about 1:20 p.m.

He was 73.

The cause of death is unknown, but Kalas missed the first few weeks of spring training after having offseason surgery to have a stent inserted near his heart. Kalas had felt well enough to travel on the first road trip and even threw the ceremonial first pitch before last Wednesday's game at Citizens Bank Park when the Phillies received their World Series rings.

Funeral arrangements are pending. The Phillies postponed their scheduled visit to the White House on Tuesday.

Shortly after Kalas collapsed, team officials cleared the clubhouse and informed the players. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said the Nationals offered to postpone the 3:05 p.m. game, Washington's home opener, but the teams decided to play. Backed by seventh-inning homers by Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez, the Phillies won their third straight game, 9-8.

The Phillies taped a photo of Kalas to a wall in the dugout, and several players passed around a cigarette in his honor before the game. It was an emotional day, especially for Kalas' fellow broadcasters. Andersen recalled being in the clubhouse in Pittsburgh in 1993 when the Phillies clinched the NL East and Kalas led the celebration by signing his favorite song, "High Hopes."

"I don't think I ever want to hear that song again," Andersen said, his eyes welling with tears.

Team president David Montgomery addressed the players before Monday's game and later spoke to reporters.

"We lost our voice today," Montgomery said.

Kalas had broadcasted major league games for 43 years, starting his career with the Houston Astros. He was elected to the broadcasters' wing of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002, and also lent his voice to the NFL, calling games and narrating video for NFL Films.

But his signature, known throughout Philadelphia, was his home run call -- "Outta here."

Kalas often said he adopted the phrase from former shortstop Larry Bowa, who once chirped, "Oh, that one's outta here," while watching slugger Greg Luzinski take batting practice.

Phillies radio announcer Scott Franzke, who joined the team in 2006, said he remembers the first time he heard Kalas utter the phrase in the broadcast booth when Ryan Howard homered in a spring training game in Kissimmee, Fla.

"The hair on the back of my neck stood up," Franzke told reporters Monday. "The players come and go, but 'Outta here,' lasts forever.

"He never turned down an autograph. He never turned down a photo. He never turned down a request to record someone's outgoing voice-mail message. As someone new in the game, he showed me that we do this for the fans. The fans are why we are here."

Kalas is survived by his wife, Eileen, and sons Todd, Brad and Kane.

PHILLIES 9, NATIONALS 8: Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez homered in the seventh inning to lift the Phillies to a win in the Nationals' home opener Monday. Howard's homer, a three-run shot, broke a 4-4 tie and came after Shane Victorino and Chase Utley were hit by pitches by Nationals reliever Saul Rivera. Jamie Moyer earned the win, allowing four runs on eight hits in six innings. Howard, Ibanez and Jayson Werth each picked up two hits. Closer Brad Lidge allowed a two-run homer by Ryan Zimmerman in the ninth inning but held on to extend his consecutive regular-season save streak to 47.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 14, 2009

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