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To many of
us Philadelphia Phillies fans, the loss of Harry Kalas is like losing a family
member. What makes losing a family member so difficult is the fact that we can’t
imagine our lives without them. You go to sleep every night confident that they
will be there when you awake. When they aren’t, it’s an uneasy feeling that can’t
be described. That’s the best way I can explain the emotion that Philadelphia
is feeling right now.
broadcaster is a rare thing in sports. We think of names like Harry Cary, John
Madden, Marv Albert and – at least for Phillies fans – Harry Kalas. Made famous
by his child-like excitement for the game and his signature catch phrase – “it’s
‘outta’ here!” – Harry Kalas was more than just a voice to so many. In
Philadelphia, he was synonymous with baseball.
He was there
to announce the two Phillies World Championships, first in 1980 and just this
It’s an old cliché
in baseball to ‘play every game as if it were your last’ and that’s exactly how
Harry announced. Even those who knew him well could hardly tell the difference
between a loss or a win by Harry’s voice, because he was equally excited no
matter what the outcome was. It didn’t matter if the Phillies were in a hunt to
win the division or they were suffering their ten thousandth franchise loss. To
Harry, time stopped with every fly ball deep to right field.
It’s hard to
imagine what life will be like when Philadelphia wakes up tomorrow morning and
Harry isn’t there. He sat in that booth for so many years; most of us assumed
he always would. It’s hard to imagine what will happen the next time Ryan
Howard hits a fly ball deep to right field. Ryan hasn’t hit a homerun yet that
Harry hasn’t called, just like so many Phillies.
In the minds
of many of us, the Phillies won’t quite be the same. For nearly 40 years, the
Phillies hit a lot of long fly balls deep to right field and it was Harry’s
voice that willed them ‘outta here.’ Now, those hits will simply land safely in
the crowd. They’ll count for just the same, but they won’t feel the same.
our voice, our legend, our soul, but most of all, our friend.
always remember the joy you brought to all of our hearts.
We will forever
1936 – 2009
I am asked time and time again how I can be so passionate about baseball. My response is, “how can you not?”
I’ve heard baseball called “boring,” “sissy,” “slow” and even “pointless” and anyone who feels that way has obviously never really watched a game.
Introducing: Jordan, my girlfriend (pictured next to me).
Jordan is from Pittsburgh, and considering the state of the Pittsburgh Pirates I have no problem accepting why she is not a baseball fan. Since we moved in together I have frequently tired to watch a game and not even just Phillies games. Each time I changed the channel she routinely sighed, got up off the couch and left the room. In most cases I would simply check the score and change the channel back, but once the Phillies made it to the playoffs, I was not in such a compromising mood.
At first, her reaction was the same and she even went as far as saying “I hope the Phillies win in as few games as possible so I can watch TV again.” She is as die-hard a Pittsburgh Steelers fan as there can be and rivals my love of the Phillies, so instead of accepting her hatred for the game I love so much, I set out on a mission.
MISSION OBJECTIVE: CONVERT JORDAN INTO A BASEBALL FAN!
It was not an easy mission. Just getting her into the living room while a game was on required a license to kill. But slowly I enticed her to just give it a chance. Her first few games was like watching a newbord calf learn how to walk. She would make it through 5 innings solid before either throwing a hissy fit or falling asleep entirely.
I’ll never understand why. I was glued to the TV when my dad first turned on the game some 15 years ago and I’ve been hooked ever since. Many people describe the game as being slow but I think that’s exactly what makes it so great. Every pitch is pure drama that no writer can reproduce. Will he hit it? Will he strike out? Will he hit a homerun? Will this be just another called strike or will it lead to the greatest play I’ve ever seen with my own two eyes?
By the time the Phillies made it to the World Series, Jordan had warmed up to the idea of watching baseball, at least the post season. Once I began explaining the finer points of the game she began to ask more questions. Like why pitchers throw to first base three tmes in a row or why Nomar Garciaparra oddly adjusts his gloves before every pitch. I knew I had her hooked.
The pinnacle moment of when I knew I had turned her into e Phillies fan was when a Subway commercial (Ode to the Philly Cheese Steak) featuring Ryan Howard came on between innings in game 3 against Tampa Bay. I sat quietly while she screamed at the TV “Yea, too bad you don’t deserve a cheese steak cuz you can’t hit a frigging homerun!”
I turned to her with the biggest smile on my face and laughed saying. “Sweetheart, at this moment you are officially a Phillies fan.”
In the bottom of that inning, Ryan Howard hit a homerun.