Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Harry Kalas: R.I.P.

Sitting on the bus this morning, in a daze, on my way back to work after an extended weekend of brutal sleep training, I noticed over another rider's shoulder the news that Harry Kalas, long-time play-by-play announcer for the Philadelphia Phillies, had died. Entering Penn Station to await my train to DC, I made a beeline for the newsstand to see if any of the papers had anything on it. The USA Today did; I read the longer-than-expected article and somewhat unexpectedly felt a big lump in my throat, tears behind my eyes. Some of my most pleasant childhood memories involve listening to Harry and the late Richie Ashburn call Phillies games on the radio. Biased I may be, but I never thought anyone did baseball better than they did. They were enthusiastic, fair, knowledgeable, funny; I always felt a certain pride in them. That Kalas was also the voice of NFL Films somehow seemed to confirm for me that that pride was not misplaced. People knew he was good. I've increasingly lost touch with baseball over the years, in particular the Phillies, since I live just far enough away that I don't have much opportunity to catch their games (though I did take a childlike delight in their surprising World Series victory last year). I enjoyed noticing Harry's voice in commercials over the years. I guess, like many others, I felt his voice would always be there. I am saddened by his passing and thankful for the many happy memories.

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