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Phillie Fans Lose A Broadcast Icon

Phillie Fans Lose A Broadcast Icon
They called him "The Voice."

Harry Kalas, aka "Harry the K," the long-time radio and TV broadcaster who died on Monday at 73, entertained generations of Philadelphia Phillies fans with his insightful play-by-play delivered in a distinctive baritone.

Kalas was well known for his signature "Outta here!" home-run call, and he was a favorite with both the fans and the players during 37 years with the Phils organization.

Kalas was the kind of broadcaster who would get his most ardent listeners at home to turn down their TVs and turn up their radios when he was calling the game on radio. Fans also listened to him on the radio from their seats in Citizens Bank Park.

Lancastrians fondly remember Kalas. A typical, heartfelt reaction: "I grew up with Harry Kalas, watching the Phillies with my dad," says Lisa Haldy. Others remember Kalas' distinctive voice. "You'd recognize that voice anywhere," says the Rev. Scott Lanser.

Kalas was teamed for many years with broadcaster Richie Ashburn, a Hall of Fame player nicknamed "Whitey." The two were fast friends, and their smart, and sometimes irreverent, broadcasts served to enhance the Baseball experience for listeners and viewers. Ashburn died in 1997.

Kalas considered it a privilege to be a sports broadcaster. "It was like the people were inviting me into their homes. That's quite an honor," he once said.

And he did it brilliantly for so many years, first in Houston and later in Philadelphia, starting in 1971.

Kalas had been the voice of the Phils during the team's ups and downs - most downs - and was nonetheless able to endear himself to the team's demanding fans.

A career high point for Kalas undoubtedly came in 2002, when he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame for his broadcast work.

Then there were the Phils' championship seasons of 1980 and 2008 (The team was due at the White House this week, but the visit was postponed because of Kalas' death.) Kalas savored the wins as much as any Phillie player.

Many Baseball fans around the country know Kalas as the Phils' broadcaster, but they also recognize him as the voice of NFL Films and Chunky Soup commercials. He also was the voice for Animal Planet's annual spoof of the Super Bowl, the "Puppy Bowl," on TV.

Kalas died as he was preparing for a Phillies -Nationals match-up in Washington. It was somehow fitting that he passed away in the broadcast booth that was so much a part of his life.

"We have lost our voice today," Phillies president David Montgomery said of Kalas.

Kalas was rare among sports broadcasters because of the length of time he spent behind the microphone for one team and one city.

But he's not alone.

Just this past Monday, Vin Scully, marked 60 years with the Los Angeles Dodgers by throwing out the first pitch of the Dodgers' home opener.

There are others, but their numbers are dwindling.

Bob Prince, "The Gunner," a fixture in the Pittsburgh Pirates' broadcast booth for a quarter century, is gone, as is his counterpart for the Steelers, Myron Cope.

In each case, these broadcasters achieved iconic status in their respective communities.

So it was with Harry Kalas, one of the best in the business.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: April 16, 2009

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