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Schmidt on Kalas

Schmidt on Kalas
Apr. 17, 2009 (Morning Call delivered by Newstex ) --

The games greatest players often arent easily humbled.

Phillies Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt is in that group.

But on Friday evening, Schmidt praised longtime Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas, who died Monday, over and over again.

?The guy working in the booth describing the game has now established himself as being bigger than the players who played the game, Schmidt said. ?Im a pretty big name in Philadelphia sports history and other teams here have other great players, but I cant imagine a guy who is bigger in Philadelphia sports history than Harry Kalas. Go anywhere in this entire tri-state area and hes a household name. Hes the guy they depended on for 40 years to provide audio in their living rooms. Im just a guy who played the game for 17 of them. We come and go. The guys that are there now, theyre going to move on. But Harry was always here. You cant say that about any player. Harry was a constant.

Phillies broadcasting manager Rob Brooks found Kalas passed out in the broadcast booth at Nationals Park about two and a half hours before Mondays game. Kalas was rushed to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:20 p.m. Autopsy results have since shown he died of heart disease.

Kalas, 73, began broadcasting Phillies games in 1971. He got to make the final call of the 2008 World Series on Brad Lidges strikeout and threw out the ceremonial first pitch on Wednesday, April 8, 2009, the day the team got the championship rings.

Fans have turned Schmidts statue outside of Citizens Bank Park into a Kalas shrine. There is a little bit of everything out there, something that is so meaningful to Schmidt that hes requested pictures be taken of it.

?Thats very touching, he said. ?Its kind of hard to put into words what that means.

Schmidt said players had a respect for Kalas that isnt commonplace with broadcasters and players.

?You could sit with him after a game and have a beer and it was like talking to one of your teammates, Schmidt said. ?He had a tremendous instinct for the game. Players respected that and I think they sensed how hard Harry worked to make us look good.

Schmidt became known as ?Michael Jack Schmidt throughout Baseball because Kalas made it a point to use his full name on nearly every one of Schmidts 548 home runs calls. Despite having retired on May 29, 1989, the name has followed Schmidt everywhere hes gone.

?It is my name, but I was never called it by my parents, he said. ?Everywhere I go, people Ive never met say, ?Its nice to meet you Michael Jack. Its a warm thing. It brings back a lot of very positive memories.

Schmidt said Kalas had a way of always putting the focus on the person he was talking to. Whatever the conversation, whatever the event, whatever the location, Kalas focused on those who surrounded him.

?Whenever I was around Harry, it was always about me, not Harry, Schmidt said. ?Thats a wonderful trait and not many people have it. ?


Newstex ID: AA-2402-34223728

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: April 18, 2009

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