Harry Kalas: Irreplaceable

Three years ago today, one of the greatest voices in sports broadcasting history passed away.  Harry Kalas died of heart disease on April 13, 2009.  As you know, Hersh and I are Phillies fans.  Mc, well, we forgive him for being a Mets fan.  Harry's passing was a shock to the entire world of baseball, as Mc would attest, but for Phillies fans, it's as if the world hasn't been the same since his passing.

I found great pleasure listening to games on the radio while Harry was a member of the Phillies broadcast crew.  In fact, listening to games on the radio was my preference (over television). Many nights, I’d head upstairs early and camp beside my clock-radio. The way HK called the game allowed you to feel like you were there – painting a vivid picture with every sentence and every word.  He was truly an artist.  Not only that, but there was just something special about his style; an HK broadcast made you feel intimately connected to the game in a way that television can't.

Listening to HK allowed you to forget how much things have changed over the years.  It peeled away some of the layers that have made the game a little less simple. It always puts a smile on my face to think about what baseball must have been like in the 30′s, 40′s and 50′s… baseball without HD, PED and WAR.  The days where 10 cent tickets were within reach for kids willing to hoard and turn in a few pop bottles.  Not only that, but the emergence of true legends who would go on to transcend the game.  I think about hot summer evenings spent on porch stoops listening closely to transistor radios and the purity of baseball before the business of baseball became public knowledge.  Harry gave you a glimpse of that baseball utopia.  

His style will never be duplicated… the rise of in-depth analysis and statistics has sort of killed the old school broadcasting style of HK.  Harry’s moments of silence allowed you to feel the tenser moments in the game. He allowed you to feel the crowd and think about those breathless moments during the game. His innate ability to set up the play and the situation gave you subtle hints of what might happen while allowing your mind to stir on the game. He gave you enough to have an expectation without over-analyzing the situation to the point where you didn’t have to think about it.
I have a lot of family pictures on my desk of my three sons and my wife but the picture that gets the most comments is an 8 1/2 x 11 collage of HK that I have sitting right next to my computer (they gave them out at the ballpark on HK appreciation day).  Harry is sorely missed.  

Check out these posts from Phillies Nation for more on remembering Harry Kalas.

Harry Kalas Was Baseball

1 comment:

  1. I miss hearing Harry with Whitey more than anything. The 2 of them together for years were my childhood.


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