Harry Kalas was - and still is - one of the greats of the game. His voice was the voice of Phillies baseball from 1971 until he passed away in 2009.
Bill Giles hired Kalas away from the Houston Astros, not knowing that it would be one of the greatest things that he ever did for the team. Kalas became synonymous with Phillies baseball, whether on radio or television, and generations of fans grew up listening to Kalas. His historic calls are still cemented into fans memories.
Of all the calls that Kalas made from the booth, getting to call the 2008 World Series was likely his proudest moment. When the Phillies won the World Series in 1980, local broadcasts of the games weren't allowed. Because of that, Kalas was locked out of getting to call the crowning achievement of players that he had spent talking about for years. The outpouring of complaints from Phillies fans about the rule that blocked Kalas and his broadcast partner Richie Ashburn from calling the 1980 World Series was what prompted the changing of the rule that allowed Kalas to do the 2008 World Series.
Kalas and Ashburn formed the greatest broadcast team in the history of Philadelphia sports. The two worked together well, their personalities meshing perfectly. The duo had a style that was comfortable to listeners and they never tried to hide their love of the Phillies. Kalas was the straight man to Ashburn's playful style, and together the two clicked both on the air and off. Ashburn passed away on September 9, 1997, and Kalas went on without his friend and broadcast partner.
Where were you when you heard the news of Kalas' passing? Tell your story.
For fans, remembering Kalas means hearing how he called specific player's names. It wasn't simply Mike Schmidt, it was Michael Jack. Mickey Morandini became Mick-ey Mor-an-dini, and even Don Carmen's name became special because of the way that Carmen was sort of gnarled out of Kalas' mouth. His "outta heeeere," home run call has been imitated by many, but none touch the classic sound of Kalas.
In a statement issued by Schmidt after Kalas' death, the Hall of Fame third baseman said simply; "he gave me my name."
Many fans were fortunate enough to meet Kalas, who would even go so far as to record messages for their answering maching - and in later years, cellphone - with his famous "outta here," call. Kalas was even known to voice introductions of bridal parties for fans to use at their wedding receptions.
In all, Kalas spent 42 years as a broadcaster and is best known for his tenure with the Phillies. He's also well known as the voice of NFL Films, having taken over the job from another legendary Philadelphia broadcaster, John Facenda. Before breaking into professional sports, Kalas called games for the Hawaii Islanders of the Pacific Coast League and the University of Hawaii. He went on to do Big Five basketball, NFL football and Notre Dame football and basketball.
Kalas was inducted into the Broadcaster's Wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002 as the winner of the Ford Frick Award, and was named the Pennsylvania Sportscaster of the Year 17 times.
Ironically, the Phillies are in Washington for the Nationals home opener tomorrow, but it was eight years ago today, April 13th, that the Phillies were also on hand in Washington for the Nats home opener. Preparing for the game, Kalas collapsed in the broadcast booth and passed away. The two teams discussed whether or not to postpone the game, but it was decided that would be the last thing that Kalas would want, so the game went on.