Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Check It "Outta Here"

Slammin’ Sam on Sports Media
Exactly one year ago today, Philadelphia Phillies Hall of Fame broadcaster and the voice of NFL Films Harry Kalas died of heart disease. Here’s why you should read “Harry the K” by Randy Miller.

1. Growing up in the shadow of Wrigley Field, Harry Kalas developed a lifelong zest and loyalty for his two loves, baseball and people.

The prospect of a 1980 World Series left Kalas brimming. “Raymond, do you believe they pay us to do this?” Harry asked Philadelphia Daily News sportswriter Ray Didinger (Harry, 171). The one-of-a-kind Kalas overflowed with confidence, former Phils manager Dallas Green said. “The signature white shoes and the off-color jackets … not many of us had the guts to wear all that stuff, but they looked good on Harry.” (106)

In 2008, reigning MVP Jimmy Rollins disappointed the man who gave his life to the franchise. Rollins called Philly fans “front-runners,” a comment he soon regretted not because of fans’ boos but because of the way it struck Kalas. “J-Roll, why did you say that?” Kalas asked the Phillies star before the team’s next game. Rollins answered, but Kalas didn’t want to hear any more (211).

After the Phillies captured the 2008 World Series, the fans and their beloved broadcaster celebrated with no intention of stopping. Chanting his name, the revelers had a request – sing Frank Sinatra’s “High Hopes.” Kalas obliged, complete with improvisation. “I like it my way,” he told his wife who responded, “That was Harry. He had to put his mark on it.” (20)

2. Especially in today’s America, Kalas is a rare example of someone who loved his work and is admired for the job that he did.

“My 500th [home run] always has been a benchmark of my career … What Harry meant for my career is something I’ll never forget,” Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt said. (176) Kalas made such an impression on Schmidt that the player provided a testimony at the broadcaster's funeral.

3. Just like Jack Buck, Harry Caray, Ernie Harwell or Vin Scully, Kalas captured both the ears and the hearts of his listeners.

"Baseball announcers have a special bond with their audience, and Harry represented the best of baseball, not only to the fans of the Phillies, but to fans everywhere," Commissioner Bud Selig said shortly after his passing.

Harry Kalas may be “outta here,” but baseball lovers will never forget him.

Sam Miller/Free Keon

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