When the marathon that is the baseball season ran its course every year growing up, there was probably not a single voice my ears took in more often than the voice of Harry Kalas.
Not my father's voice.
Nor my mother's.
And not my sister's.
My sister did put it best when she said Kalas was always like that distant uncle you rarely saw in person, but always knew he was there.
Harry Kalas was the greatest distant uncle I ever had.
He started my nights and he usually ended them as well. Back in grade school on most evenings, I plugged my headphones into the various devices I have had over the years to listen to the Phightin Phils on the radio.
I listened to them on a tape-cassette player/radio, a CD-Player/Radio, and later my sister's old boom-box. The devices always changed, but the voice did not.
Kalas always rotated from television to radio throughout each game and if I was lucky enough, I caught Kalas's last shift on the radio.
Andi if I was really lucky, it would be Kalas calling a Phillies' win which were far and few between in the 1990s.
And if I was super lucky, I heard Kalas give his signature call—a home run call. With the right crack of the bat, Philadelphia fans knew what was coming.
"That ball is hit hard to deep centerfield, its got a chance...that ball is OUTTTAAAA here...home run Mike Lieberthal."
Every kid knows that call. Every kid repeated it over and over.
You applied it to pick up games out in the street and kickball games in recess.
Every kid dreamt of hitting a home run with Harry Kalas at the microphone. Who wouldn't want to hear, "That ball is OUUTTTAAA here...home run Jameson Fleming!"
Granted I never got to hear it, but I did hear my name replaced hundreds of times for Pat Burrell or Ryan Howard or even Mariano Duncan and Todd Pratt. I've always gladly settled for that.
Kalas always brought those calls and the game of baseball to me. I could never bring myself to the game of baseball as I've grown up with an allergy to peanuts so severe that even the aroma of peanuts could send me into anaphylactic shock. So the ballpark wasn't the best place for me.
But Kalas always helped fuel my love for the sport.
He was my closest connection to the game. He was always my closest connection to the '93 Pennant-Winning Phillies. His dazzling rendition of "High Hopes" will never leave my memory.
We'll always remember how he called the final outs of the 2008 World Championships.
We'll always remember how crisp he said Pat Burrell's name or how elegantly he stretched out Mickey Morandini.
We'll remember Kalas remarking, "Chase Utley—you are the man!"
We'll remember how he made every partner he ever worked with better. We'll always remember his love for the Phillies and hopefully he knew how much we loved him.
The City of Philadelphia will lay him to rest knowing at least he'll head to heaven where he can team up with another Phillies great, Richie "Whitey" Ashburn, who passed away while he still called games for the Phils in 1997.
So Harry, thanks for the memories.
R.I.P Harry Kalas (1936-2009)