My Memories of Harry

The untimely passing of Harry Kalas yesterday has left a void in the lives of Phillies fans everywhere. I’d like to say that I’d been listening to him since childhood, as many others have, but that would not be true. Though I was a baseball fan while growing up and through high school and college, I didn’t really pay much attention to the announcers. It wasn’t until I moved to Philadelphia and started to really follow the Phillies that I became enamored of Harry’s wonderful voice.

Harry had one of those voices that could make anything sound better. He could probably have read my shopping list aloud and made it sound dramatic and meaningful.

In 2000, the Phillies had a Harry Kalas Tribute Night to honor his (then) 30 seasons with the Phillies. They gave away “Talking Harry”s, a beanbag/slammer type head that said some of his well-known phrases, like “struck him out” or “that ball’s outta here” in the way only Harry could say it.

Yesterday, I got mine off the shelf to listen to it again. Ironically, its voice was gone, silenced by dead batteries.

talking_harry.jpg

The back of the tag pays tribute to Harry with this:

“The Voice”

Through 30 seasons, you’ve provided the soundtrack to our summers. You call the game with a balance of true professionalism and humor, grace and enthusiasm. With a nod to His Whiteness, we salute you as “The Voice” of Philadelphia and the Phillies. Thank you!

- Your Phans

I could not say it better myself. For those of you who may not know who His Whiteness was, it is a reference to Richie Ashburn, Harry’s longtime broadcasting partner who had passed away in 1997.

A few years ago, I managed to revive its voice by carefully opening one of the seams and replacing the tiny batteries inside. I will have to do this again just to be able to hear “The Voice” for a little bit longer.

I was lucky enough to have met Harry a few brief times, and he was never in too much of a hurry to sign autographs or take photos with the fans. I’ll share a few favorite photos.

 

 

kalas2.jpgHarry posed with my friend Jill and me (I’m on the left) at the Baseball 101 For Women event held in May 2007.

 

 

kalas3.jpgAlso in 2007, Harry was kind enough to take this photo with my son at the annual Phillies Phestival.

 

harrykalas.jpg

Lastly, here I am with Harry at the 2008 Baseball 101 For Women event.

 

It will be strange this season not to hear Harry’s voice during Phillies games, though I’m sure I’ll adjust eventually. I imagine he and Whitey are together again, calling the games from heaven’s booth. Rest in peace, Harry, we will miss you!

10 Comments

Sue, Nice posting! He had an amazing voice and was a legend. I grew up with the classic voices and hate that we’re losing them.
By the way, in all the tributes to him, I haven’t heard any mention of the fact that he broadcast Notre Dame football for quite a long time. I was telling Jordan about a player named Hiawatha Francisco (just imagine him enunciating every syllable) and the fact that Harry took so long to say his name that the next play was being called by the time Harry finished his call!
At least they beat the Nats yesterday at a stadium that is 2 and 1/2 blocks from my office.
Ken
http://brooksrobinsonrules.mlblogs.com/

Hey Sue – I still can’t believe it. It was awful being at that game and seeing the look on the faces of the players; I don’t know how they made it through. I was in the first row by the dugout too…kept thinking, OMG I hope I am not on TV crying, like just to make matters worse. I am so glad though that Harry got to see one last WS. He deserved it.

Jenn
http://philliesphollowers.mlblogs.com/

What a great tribute to Harry Kalas. I have only heard him a few times, but I can only imagine what it must be like for Phils phans to lose “the soundtrack of their summers.” His family and his fans are in my prayers.
Paige
http://bestof162.mlblogs.com/

Sue – What a great tribute to an amazing man. I knew him more from his work on behalf of the NFL but what a voice! He will be missed. I will keep the Phillies’ family in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

Awesome post! It is amazing to see all the people that have pictures of themselves with Harry. It just shows you what an amazing announcer and human being he truly was!
My picture with him is on my blog and I am also happy that I included it as a part of the book that I wrote as well.

Simply an awesome voice and a great man, we will miss Harry Kalas!

John
Major League Ballhawk
http://ballhawk.mlblogs.com

That was a great post. It’s great that you will always have the memories.
Canuck
http://watercooler.mlblogs.com

Sue, my deepest condolences to you and other Phillies fans (and, of course, to Harry’s family and friends). I’m so glad you have those pictures, as well as your memories.

http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

Sue,
This is definitely a tough loss for not only the Phillies organization, but for baseball as well. My thoughts and prayers are with the Phillies organization.
Elizabeth
http://redsoxgirl46.mlblogs.com

This is sad for all of us baseball fans indeed. How lucky you are to have such precious, personal memories of and with Harry. Those photos are priceless and I’m sure will be treasured in your family for years to come.
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/

Thanks everybody for your kind comments. It’s amazing to realize just how many people will miss Harry and his wonderful voice. Not only Phillies fans, but others who knew his work with NFL Films, commercials for Campbell’s Soup, and even Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl. His voice was truly known nationwide.
Sue

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