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PHILADELPHIA (CBS Philly) – It’s been nearly 10 years since the voice of the Philadelphia Phillies, Harry Kalas, passed away in the press box at Nationals Park prior to a game. The radio and television voice of the Phils for 38 years, Kalas saw plenty of highs along with the lowest of lows with the team through the years. Kalas’ soothing baritone voice was the soundtrack of many a muggy Philadelphia night, a comforting sound upon which one could focus for a few hours, letting go of the stresses each day might bring.
For many, Kalas was the voice fans would change the radio station to for those late West Coast games, fighting not to fall asleep but often failing. As another baseball season approaches, the Phillies have “high hopes” thanks to the signing of Bryce Harper and several other key acquisitions and homegrown players. The excitement is still there, and the broadcast crews are quite good. But, you can’t help but wonder what Harry’s call of the first Harper homer in Citizen’s Bank Park would be.
Today, on what would have been his 83rd birthday, we reflect on just a handful of our favorite calls from Harry’s career. Feel free to add your own, or weigh in with your own memories of Harry on our Facebook or Twitter pages.
‘Chase Utley, You Are The Man!’
After struggling for much of the latter half of the 90s and early 2000s, the Phillies had begun to rise back towards the top of the National League East thanks to a core of homegrown guys in Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, among others. That crew of guys will always hold a special place in the city’s lore and Utley in particular was loved for his all-out hustle style of play that led to a call that still rings in the ears of all.
Mike Schmidt’s 500th Home Run
One of the few Phillies players from the modern era to be inducted into Cooperstown to this point, Schmidt spent 18 years in Philadelphia manning the hot corner with Kalas on the call for all of it. That is what made his 500th home run call so special. Sure, the Phillies finished fourth in the division and below .500 in the 1987 season, but Schmidt was just beginning a stellar year (.293/.388/.538 with 35 HR and 115 RBI) when he hit the milestone on April 18, with Harry’s voice perfectly capturing the moment.
‘Swing And A Miss, Struck Him Out! The Philadelphia Phillies Are 2008 World Champions Of Baseball’
A call that will live on for years to come and still gives everyone chills listening to 11 years later. Thousands of fans across the area put the television broadcast on mute and turned up the volume on Harry intently waiting for his voice to tell us the good news. The Philadelphia Phillies were champions of baseball.
There are so many highlights, stories and calls from Kalas, these represent just a smattering of what he offered as the steady voice of the team for nearly four decades. Good, bad, and ugly, Kalas was in your living room with you 162 games a year. And, if all else failed, you could always count on Harry to sing Frank Sinatra’s “High Hopes” to get you dreaming of better days.
We miss you, Harry.