April 13th, 2009
No, it’s not music related, but I’m just completely heartbroken that Harry Kalas has died. He WAS Philadelphia, and some of my greatest memories from my childhood growing up in the Philly suburbs involve listening to the radio with my late father, hearing Harry and Richie Ashburn call Phillies games. Now they’re all gone.
In those summers a long time ago, when I was 10, 11, 12, we would play baseball virtually every day — on a makeshift field in which dirt patches were bases and where you’d have to belt the ball past a cluster of large rocks and a tree in our outfield for a home run — from before noon literally until the sun set and you couldn’t see the ball anymore. Yes, we’d imitate Mike Schmidt’s swing, Pete Rose’s batting stance, Tugger’s delivery, but we’d also always imitate Harry the K’s calls whenever someone hit a long ball or made a great play — if you were a kid, a Phillies fan, a baseball fan, you simply loved Harry just as much as you loved your favorite players; his presence meant just as much.
More than 25 years later, I’ve lost touch with most of those kids I played baseball with — they’re probably scattered all over the country, if not the world. But I’ll bet that every single one of them, if they’ve heard the news about Harry’s passing, are thinking back to those times, just like I am. Thinking back to those summer days that seemed to last forever, Harry on the radio or us kids calling a play like Harry on our little ballfield. Remembering names of childhood friends they haven’t thought of in ages.
Today, we’re all connected once again by his death, just like Harry played a part in connecting us way back then — the friendly, wise voice, the bridge between the fans and the team, coming into our homes and bringing us kids together by fostering in us a love of baseball, a love of the Phillies. He helped us create the joys of our youth, the joys of being alive, the joys of friendship and cameraderie that mean so much now, well into adulthood. I’m looking back on those days fondly today, and sadly, too, because they keep receding further into the past, the memories a little hazier with each passing year. But I’ll never forget them, and I’ll never forget Harry Kalas as long as I live.
Thanks for everything, Harry. And I’m glad you got to see one more championship.