Monday, April 13, 2009

R.I.P. Harry Kalas

Just got word that longtime (and legendary) Philadelphia Phillies announcer Harry Kalas died this afternoon at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. -- just as he was about to call the Washington Nationals' season opener.

Kalas' voice was a thread woven through my childhood and early adulthood -- through good times (the Ozark/Dallas Green-era, the amazing 1993 season, and last year's World Championship) and bad times (uh, the rest of the time, and the crushing playoff defeats of the late 70s). In part, that was because my brother Tom -- now as sportscaster and anchor for WHYY-TV in Wilmington, Delaware -- does the best impression of Kalas I have ever heard. (Keep an eye on Tom's blog "Unobstructed View" for more info in the next few days: He spent a lot of time with Harry the K as an intern.)

Kalas' idiosyncracies were his best feature: Anyone in Philadelphia circa 1975-1986 could tell you that every home run by Hall of Fame 3B Mike Schmidt was intoned thusly: "Home run Michael Jack Schmidt!" (His call of the Phillies' World Series championship last year is here.)

And for those of you who are so anti-sports that you can't even bear the Super Bowl... Kalas was also the voice of the wonderful Animal Planet counter-programming each year on that day: The Puppy Bowl.

Update 4/13: Tom's post on Kalas here. Though, he sold himself short on his youthful impression of Kalas. It was astonishing in its verisimilitude and nuance for a 10 year-old.

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