Perhaps the most famous and well-liked broadcaster in the history of sports died today after he collapsed in the booth getting ready to call a Phillies game in Washington.
I suppose its fitting that "Harry The K" died in the one place where he felt most at home—the broadcast booth.
We all knew Harry was getting old, but I don't think anyone expected his death to be so sudden. It's bittersweet in a lot of ways. On one hand, he got to see (and call) the new generation Phillies win a World Championship in 2008. But, he will miss the Phillies visit to the White House, which was supposed to be tomorrow, and has since been postponed.
He will also miss the Phillies run to defend their title this season. And if any of the players need extra motivation to win another championship, they shouldn’t have to look much further than the black “HK" they will be wearing on their jerseys for the rest of the season.
Harry was only 73, which in my mind, is too young.
When talking about a legend—which Harry was in every sense of the word—death never really crosses your mind. I never imagined Harry’s career ending, because watching a Phillies game without him seemed impossible. He had a conversation with the city, with me, every night—a conversation that I was confident would go on forever.
My only real-life encounter with Harry happened about 10 years ago. I was with my uncle at a meet and greet for Phillies and their sponsors. I think I was 12 or 13. It was the middle of summer and the Phils were already out of playoff contention. It didn’t matter because these guys were still my heroes.
At one point, I was walking by myself from the clubhouse back to the field. I looked behind me and there he was. I have no idea what I said, but I remember his image like it was yesterday.
He was wearing his signature white shoes, khaki pants, and a polo. I handed him a baseball with numerous other signatures. He signed it, smiled, winked, and was gone.
Of everyone I met that day, Harry was the only one that still sticks in my mind. When my Mom asked me how the day went, the first thing I said was, “I met Harry!” The whole moment was surreal, something only true baseball lovers can understand.
Baseball is a sport like no other. I've been playing baseball since I was five years old and listening to Harry call games since that time. Harry's voice was a fixture in my life and defines some of the fondest memories from my childhood.
I can recall traveling to little league games with my Dad and best friends, listening to Harry’s baritone voice call games on the ride home. And then getting back into the house and listening to him call the seventh, eighth, and ninth. I didn’t care if they were up by 10 or down by 10, whether they were 20 games out or battling the Mets for the NL East title, I was there and so was Harry.
His voice will live on and his name will never be forgotten, but now there is a void that can never be filled. I guess the only thing we can do is move on and remember how Harry carried us through summer after summer, chronicling the seasons of our beloved Phils. It won't be easy.