On The Edge Blog

Monday, April 13, 2009

The day our voice went silent

“The 0-2 pitch, swing and a miss, struck him out! The Philadelphia Phillies are 2008 World Champions of Baseball!”
~Harry Kalas (1936-2009)

I have written a column every week since the Phillies lost their 10,000th game in July 2007, and throughout the last 21 months, I have analyzed some epic wins and a few crushing losses, but never a loss like this one.

When Harry Kalas passed away on Monday, April 13, shortly after 1:20 p.m., he took with him the Hall of Fame voice that was always there for us.

I was only fortunate enough to have met Harry one time, but I still remember shaking his hand and seeing how genuinely happy he was to meet me, along with each and every Phillies fan. I went to the third to last game of the 2007 season, and Harry and Jim Jackson were doing a pre-game show from the lower level of Citizens Bank Park, so my friends and I stopped to watch. When the show went to commercial, I walked up to Harry, shook his hand and told him he was the greatest and that it was an honor to meet him.

He could have told me to get lost or shook my hand and said nothing, but that wasn’t Harry. He shook my hand, thanked me for wanting to shake his hand, and then did the same for my friends, as well as for every fan that shook his hand that night or any other night for the 38 years he was a member of our family.

And it’s true, Harry was a member of our family. He may not have watched any us grow up, but we all grew up into baseball fans by watching him. When I was young, Harry’s voice taught me about baseball and told me everything I needed to know about the guys with classic baseball names, like Michael Jack Schmidt, Terry Mulholland, Mickey Morandini and Andy Van Slyke. (Just listen for a moment, and I'm sure you can hear Harry calling their names in a way that only he could.)

When I was in high school, Harry’s voice was the only sound while I was studying, and when his voice rose, I knew to look up because the Phillies were doing something good. When I went away to college at the University of Maryland, I remember saying that when I came home, I wanted to sit down with a cheesesteak and Harry Kalas’ voice announcing the Phillies.

Even back in October, as I screamed my head off in section 428, I remember that as Brad Lidge’s slider hit Carlos Ruiz’s glove, I yelled Harry’s famous call of “struck him out!” Right then I realized that the only thing missing from that most perfect of moments was hearing Harry call our Fightins the World Series champions. The following morning I finally caught the clip of Harry calling the final out of the game, and the World Series seemed complete.

When I saw the video footage, it was clear that he was just as excited as I was, and maybe that’s the reason that Harry holds a permanent place in the heart of every Phillies fan.

When you watched a game, you just knew that Harry was as emotionally invested in the outcome as you were. In a day where we have emotionless announcers, who care more about their own voice than the teams on the field or the fans in their living rooms, Harry was always there to lead the charge when the Phillies were pulling off a comeback, or to console you after your heart had just been ripped out after a loss. No matter how bad it got, you knew it was going to be okay and that the Phillies would get it back the next day or the next season because Harry told you that it would happen.

In the end, the Phillies will play at least another 155 games this season, but no matter how many they win and how many they lose, each one will be incomplete because Harry’s voice didn’t tell us how it happened.


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Name: Matthew Fleishman, Yardley News Editor
Location: United States

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