I never wanted to write this.
When I was a kid, my cousin loved Reggie Jackson. Probably because he was left-handed and named Reggie.
When I called him today in Atlanta and told him of the death of legendary broadcaster Harry Kalas, he was in shock.
"Reggie, I can't stop crying," I said. "Why can't I stop crying?"
He said, "Geoff, when we were kids, everybody else was their favorite player. I was Reggie Jackson, that one kid was Mike Schmidt. We had a guy who was Pete Rose, Garry Maddox, and Bake McBride. Even your uncle Tony was Greg Luzinski. But not you.
"You were Harry Kalas."
Since I was a small child, I have wanted to be sportscaster. I love playing sports, but the ability to paint a picture with words—that was my first love.
Gene Hart was the voice.
Harry Kalas was my hero.
One of my earliest childhood memories is of trying to say Kent Tekulve's name just like Harry. I was 10 years old before I knew that Pittsburgh's baseball team was called the Pirates and not "The Buckos."
The sheer joy in his voice as the Phillies won the series in 1980 will never be forgotten.
The pennant in '83, Mike Schmidt's 500th career home run, the pennant in '93, Lenny Dykstra's game-winner in Game 5 of the '93 series, the NL East title in 2007, the NL East title and pennant in 2008—None of these can be remembered without the legendary call of Harry Kalas.
My favorite? It is my ring tone on my phone right now. While I usually rotate that frequently, this one will stay for a while.
"The 0-2 pitch...Swing and a miss! Struck him out! The Philadelphia Phillies are 2008 World Champions of Baseball! Brad Lidge does it again and stays perfect for the 2008 season...48-for-48 in save opportunities...and let the city celebrate!"
And celebrate we did.