April 17, 2009
Philadelphia loses its voice with the passing of broadcaster KalasAs many people already know by now, Philadelphia fans--and sports fans all over the world--lost a beloved tradition of baseball this week with the passing of the great Hall of Fame announcer Harry Kalas.
Kalas, who became the announcer of the Philadelphia Phillies in 1971, passed away on Monday, April 13, of a heart attack right before the Phillies game in Washington D.C.
For Phillies fans this is quite a blow because Kalas was not just an announcer but the voice of the Philadelphia Phillies. His signature mellow voice and classic one-liners like "swing and a miss" or his most popular and often recreated "this ball is outta here" is what made him a legend in Philadelphia.
Fans hold onto his most famous lines and remember them like verses of a song, such as his memorable call of Mike Schmidt's 500th homerun ("Swing and a long drive, there it is, number 500! The career 500th home run for Michael Jack Schmidt!") or even more recently the call last year of Brad Lidge's 0-2 pitch that won Philadelphia their first championship in decades ("The 0-2 pitch--swing and a miss, struck him out! The Philadelphia Phillies are 2008 World Champions of baseball!").
His passing is even harder to take because it was so sudden and without any warning. He was literally announcing the final calls of the win against the Colorado Rockies the day before and was perfectly fine.
For me, Harry Kalas was a big part of the Phillies, and he was just as important if not more imporant than the actual players.
My entire life I have memories of going to Phillies games and hearing his voice over the loudspeakers. Or driving down to the beach and walking into the house on a Friday night and watching the rest of the game with my grandfather and listening as Kalas made the final calls of the game. For me it is his voice that comes to mind first when I think of Phillies baseball and when Kalas was not the one announcing, it didn't seem right.
I am sure that many other Phillies fans have similar memories, and this is what will be the hardest. For 40 years his voice was Phillies baseball and now it's gone.
Harry Kalas will be missed as a great announcer but even more so than that as a great part of Philadelphia Sports tradition.
There will never be another broadcaster as great as Harry Kalas.
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