Tribute to Harry Kalas


June 18, 2002. Longtime announcer Jack Buck, the voice of so many St. Louis summers, passed away. The community and organization were at a loss. No words could describe the man that gave them so much. The city mourned his death for just a few days when Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile died June 22, 2002. It was a brutal time to be a Cards fan. The city was attached to Buck and his steady voice. How could there be Cardinals baseball without Jack Buck in the booth? The only way to lighten the grief was to smile – to remember. And there was a lot to remember. Every fan had their special memory.

April 13, 2009. Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas died in the broadcast booth in Washington while preparing for another day at work.

Growing up in Reading, Pennsylvania, I watched my share of Phillies games over the years. And I heard my share of “Swing … and a long drive, and this ball is … outta here!” too. Harry Kalas was special to the Philadelphia community much like Buck was to St. Louis.

So, today we honor Harry the K. It is the one-year anniversary of his shocking death.

I remember watching ESPN before I went to baseball practice when a breaking news story flashed on the screen. Harry Kalas passed away unexpectedly in Washington. I was shocked. Phillies baseball would never be the same. It would never be as special. Harry was a one-of-a-kind announcer. How could anyone replace him? It just wasn’t possible.

But the season went on. And Harry never really left. His initials were emblazoned over the hearts of the Phillies players for the remainder of the season. The left field wall featured “HK” with a microphone to honor him. And more powerful than the physical displays and memorials were and still are the memories.

The home run calls. The smiles. The concerts in the locker room.

Besides the home run calls, I’ll leave you with one of my favorites.

Chase Utley bears down on third base on a soft roller hit by Ryan Howard. He rounds third at full speed for home. Harry paints the rest of the picture.

“Chase is gonna keep going and he’s safe at home plate. Chase Utley you are the man!”

To the rest of Philly, Harry will always be the man. His memory will never die. His voice will never fade.

(I plan to do a more in-depth story on Harry for my Saturday column on Call to the Pen. If you are a Harry fan and want to leave your thoughts for the story, leave them in the comment section or email me at It could be a favorite memory or story about Harry) video of Kalas’ calls.

Tribute Video to Harry the K