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News » Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch 2009-04-15

Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch 2009-04-15

Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch 2009-04-15
Harry Kalas was among the last remaining members of a bygone generation of broadcasters.

When Kalas broke in with the fledgling Houston Astros in 1965 and when he was hired by the Phillies in 1971, broadcasters understood it was about substance, not shtick. The game, not the loudest look-at-me home run call, was still the show.

Back then, before 24-hour cable sports networks and the ever-growing Internet, broadcasters were synonymous with the local team. There was Vin Scully in Los Angeles and Ernie Harwell in Detroit; Curt Gowdy in Boston and Marty Brennaman in Cincinnati; Bob Prince in Pittsburgh and Jack Buck in St. Louis. Russ Hodges called Giants games, first in New York, then in San Francisco. In Chicago, it was Harry Caray and Jack Brickhouse; in New York, Mel Allen and Bob Murphy.

And, in Philadelphia, there was Kalas.

Each was every bit as popular as the star players on their teams. Players, after all, came and went. But, in simpler times, broadcasters were institutions, friendly and familiar voices on the airwaves on hot summer nights and the lone conduits from a team to its fans.

It isn't like that anymore, not with local broadcasters having to compete to be heard over ESPN, MLB Network and other outlets that fuel a non-stop news cycle.

And, now, Kalas is gone, too.

Fewer than three hours before the Phillies began a three-game series Monday in Washington, Kalas was found unconscious in a broadcast booth at Nationals Park. He was pronounced dead about an hour later, at 1:20 p.m., at George Washington University Hospital. Autopsy results Tuesday showed Kalas died of heart disease.

"You knew and he knew and everyone in the organization knew that Harry was going to be there longer than you were," former Phillies first baseman John Kruk said in a radio interview.

With Kalas, though, the love affair went beyond the fans. Players adored him. They loved hearing him say their name -- "Mic-key Mor-an-dini" and "Shane Vic-tor-ino" were two of his favorites -- and declare that their home runs were "Outta Here!" with his signature call.

When the Phillies played the Mets at Shea Stadium, Kruk and Kalas would ride together to New York in a limousine. On the team charter, Kalas would play cards with players and sit in the back row, designated for everyone else as players-only territory.

So, what was it that made him so beloved?

Start with this: He treated everyone the same. Regardless of whether he knew you for 20 years or 20 minutes, he greeted you with a warm smile and a gracious hello. He was supremely kind and generous (how else can you explain his willingness to accept fans' requests for him to record their outgoing voicemail message?), and with "Harry The K," you always knew the sentiment was genuine.

Just ask Jamie Moyer, who met Kalas in the mid-1980s while dining with his girlfriend (now wife) Karen at an Italian restaurant in Chicago.

"We go to a restaurant in Chicago, Kelly Mondelli's, and he happened to be there," Moyer recalled. "We were quite young -- I was over 21 -- and he bought us a bottle of wine. Just a super person to be around. He'll be missed."

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

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