R.I.P. Harry Kalas

The longtime voice of the Philadelphia Phillies has died today.

Kalas won the hearts of Phillies fans with his easy-going style, his mellow, baritone, leathery voice (which will rise to great excitement upon great plays on the field or Phillies’ home runs, especially in key situations), his love of the game and also his accessibility to Phillies fans, for whom he professed a strong love.

He also provided the voice over for NFL Films, as well as numerous commercials.

Sources say he passed out in the broadcasting booth prior to calling the Phillies-Nationals game this afternoon. Shortly after being taken to the hospital, he was pronounced dead.

He died doing what he truly loved doing, and probably wouldn’t have wanted to go out anywhere else.

Not only Phillies fans. This is one Cardinals fan who will miss him. Truly one of the great voices of the game.

Wow. Phillies games will never be the same. Throughout my 24 years he has been the voice of the Phils and it’s unimaginable that anyone could replace him. It’s the end of an era.

So NFL Films… is that the voice we’ve heard all these years? The voice, that when you hear it, you know it’s a production by NFL Films?

Maybe. The original voice of NFL Films, aka “The Voice of God”, was John Facenda, who died back in 1984. (Wow, that was 25 years ago now.)

(Who was, BTW, another Philadelphian – he was an announcer for the local CBS station when I was a kid.)

A sad day for Philly sports lovers.

There was a moment of silence before the Rays game tonight. His son, Todd, works for the Rays, so not sure if it was done at other parks.

I’m surprised to find myself much more upset at this than I ever would have imagined. Phils games will never be the same for me. Those are some huge shoes to fill.

I posted this a month ago in another thread

I thought several times about sending Harry a letter in which I told him about this, but I never did. It will go in the mail to his family today.

For me, the worst part taking him for granted. The Phillies were a hometown team, and I grew up watching games and listening to Harry the K. When I was younger, I thought that he was just another announcer, that there was nothing really special about him. I figured every baseball team in America has their own hum-drum announcer, and Kalas just so happened to be ours.

Well, now that I’m older, and now that I’ve listened to thousands of calls spanning across all of the major sports, I can tell you - Harry was very special. He loved the game, loved the players, and loved the fans. I have to guess that it’s probably difficult to stand out as an announcer; rarely does it make headlines when one passes away. Harry was different.

My friends and I would humor ourselves while watching the Phillies at our favorite hometown sports bar by trying to imitate Harry’s voice. We shared countless laughs doing so but could never quite get it right. It just goes to show that he truly was one of a kind.

Less than a month ago, in the “Why do you love baseball?” thread, I wrote:

And it’s the truth; the Phillies game yesterday just lacked something.

ETA: And I was wrong in my original post; Richie Ashburn didn’t die until 1997.

Y’know the sad thing is, though? Even if they do reissue DVDs or somesuch, it’ll be Greatest Games or Important Moments in Phillies History.

Harry and Richie were not the best at calling monumental events. Riveting tension was not their forte – for a (non-Phillies) World Series game, Vin Scully or Jon Miller are much better. What they did best, as good as anyone ever, was call a meaningless game between two teams that were going nowhere. It’d be the Pirates and Phillies, 4th place vs. 6th … and yet you wanted to listen. You knew the jokes, you knew what Richie was going to say if someone tried to sacrifice with a man on second base … and you wanted to hear it anyway.

They made you realize that a sunny Sunday afternoon spent relaxing on the porch listening to the radio was a wonderful thing. That Don Carman blew another lead was regrettable, but no more so than the clouds.

That’s not a perspective on the game; that’s a perspective on life.