April 13, 2009: The day we lost “Our Voice.” The infamous day when all of Philadelphia mourned for a man who personified our passion, our team, and our city: Harry Norbert Kalas. Two years ago to the day. I can still remember getting the call from my dad that Harry had collapsed in the Nationals press box as my brother and I were making our way south to Washington D.C. for the game. It was a somber day heading into Nats Park to cheer on our Phightins with the death of a Philadelphia legend, a man who loved the game of baseball so much. I can’t imagine Harry wanting to go out any other way, being able to call the final out of the 2008 World Series, a call that still gives me chills:
“One strike away; nothing-and-two, the count to Hinske. Fans on their feet; rally towels are being waved. Brad Lidge stretches. The 0-2 pitch — swing and a miss, struck him out! The Philadelphia Phillies are 2008 World Champions of baseball! Brad Lidge does it again, and stays perfect for the 2008 season! 48-for-48 in save opportunities, and let the city celebrate!”
Today the Phillies will take the field exactly two years to the date that Harry passed, on the same field in our nation’s capital. We can only imagine what Harry and Whitey will be up to as they watch Phillies Ace Roy Halladay go to work vs. the Nationals.
Harry being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002
It hasn’t been the same since Harry left. The games have gone on but that void will never be filled. So many memories have gone by without that lasting, iconic voice to put his stamp on it. Tom McCarthy, Chris Wheeler, Sarge, Franzke, & LA all do a tremendous job in their own right but well all know they are not Harry. Listening or watching a Phillies game will never be the same.
Although Harry is no longer with us his legacy lives in. From Michael Jack Schmidt to Pat Burrell his classic calls were unmatched. He called the last game at Veterans Stadium and the first game at Citizens Bank Park. From 1971-2009 Harry graced us with a voice that filled our homes and those memories will never be forgotten. He loved baseball, the Phillies, and of course the phans. As evident on July, 28th 2002 as Harry made his Hall of Fame induction speech in Cooperstown, NY:
This is to the Philadelphia fan.
To laud your passion as best I can.
Your loyalty is unsurpassed.
Be the Fightins in first or last.
We come to the park each day,
looking forward to another fray.
Because we know you’ll be there,
we know you really care.
You give the opposing pitcher fits
because as one loyalist shouts, everybody hits.
To be sure in Philly, there might be some boos.
Because you passionate fans, like the manager, hate to lose.
Your reaction to the action on the field that you impart,
spurs as broadcasters to call the game with enthusiasm and heart.
We feel your passion through and through.
Philadelphia fans, I love you.
A petition, created by lifelong Phillies phan Antonio Jose, to craft a memorial statue for Harry by the fans has garnered more than 20,000 signatures via Facebook catching the attention of prominent realist sculptor Lawrence Nolan. A non-profit group, Dear Harry Inc. has been formed with one mission to promote the funding and execute the memorial for our voice Harry Kalas and present it to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Harry & Whitey
In the beginning of April the Phillies accepted Nolan’s life-like statue of Harry Kalas to be displayed somewhere in Citizens Bank Park. The location of Harry has yet to be determined but I cannot imagine a better place than in Asburn Alley with his best friend Whitey. A job well done to the phans for their relentless support , to Lawrence Nolan the sculptor, and to the Philadelphia Phillies. We all know that Harry would be extremely proud to be phorever displayed in his home where the Phillies play.
So today as we watch our Phightins take on the Washington Nationals in D.C. remember the man who personifies Phillies baseball. The man who captured our springs and summers. He brought his love and passion for baseball into all of our hearts. Harry Kalas, you are the man!