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Harry Norbert Kalas (March 26, 1936 – April 13, 2009) was an Americanmarker sportscaster, best known for his Ford C. Frick Award-winning role as lead play-by-play announcer for Major League Baseball's Philadelphia Phillies. Kalas was also closely identified with the National Football League, serving as a voice-over narrator for NFL Films productions (a regular feature on Inside the NFL) and calling football games nationally for Westwood One radio.

Early life and career

Born in Naperville, Illinoismarker, Kalas graduated from Naperville High Schoolmarker in 1954 and from the University of Iowamarker in 1959. Upon graduation, he was immediately drafted into the United States Army and stationed in Hawaii. After his discharge in 1961, Kalas began calling minor-league baseball games for the Hawaii Islanders.

Kalas made his major-league debut in 1965 with the Houston Astros, replacing Al Helfer and working alongside Gene Elston and Loel Passe. He called the first game at Houston's Astrodome, on April 12, 1965.

He was hired by the Phillies in 1971 to succeed Bill Campbell, and was the master of ceremonies at the 1971 opening of Veterans Stadiummarker. After the retirement of By Saam, Kalas was paired with Andy Musser and Hall of Fame player Richie Ashburn.

Kalas joined NFL Films as a narrator in 1975. He became its primary voice, following the passing of John Facenda in 1984. He provided the narration to the highlights on Inside the NFL from its inception in 1977 through the 2008 season. Following Kalas' death, fellow Philadelphia Phillies announcer Scott Graham took over his Inside the NFL duties.

His son, Todd, was a Phillies broadcaster, worked as a pregame/postgame–show host, and is currently an in-game analyst for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Philadelphia Phillies

In general

While initially meeting with a lukewarm reception due to his replacement of the popular Campbell, Kalas soon won the hearts of Phillies fans with his easy-going style, his mellow, baritone, leathery voice (which rose to great excitement upon great plays on the field or Phillies' home runs, especially in key situations), his love of the game and also his accessibility to Phillies fans, for whom he professed a strong love.

During his Phillies career, he called six no-hit games, six National League Championship Series, and three World Series (1983, 1993, and 2008). However, due to MLB rules at the time, he could not call the 1980 World Series, as local broadcasters were not allowed to call games due to contract conflicts with MLB, NBC and CBS Radio. Public outcry caused MLB to reverse that decision three years later.

Kalas also called the first game at Veterans Stadium (April 10, 1971), the last game at Veterans Stadium (September 28, 2003), and the first game at Citizens Bank Park (April 12, 2004).

Kalas was sidelined for a few days in late July 2008 to treat a detached retina.

On April 8, 2009, the Phillies honored Kalas by having him throw out the first pitch before a game against the Atlanta Braves. Kalas's pitch was part of the pre-game ceremony in which the Phillies received their 2008 World Series championship rings. Unknown at the time, the ceremony would be part of Kalas's last home game.

On May 15, 2009, during a series in Washington, the Phillies visited the White Housemarker and were congratulated by President Barack Obama for their 2008 World Series championship. The visit had been postponed from April 14, due to Kalas's death the preceding day. The President mentioned Kalas, his voice, his love for the Phillies, and his legacy.

Richie Ashburn

Kalas and Ashburn became beloved figures in Philadelphiamarker, and also became best friends. They worked together for 27 seasons until Ashburn's death on September 9, 1997 of a heart attack in his sleep in a New York Citymarker hotel room after broadcasting a Phillies/Mets game at Shea Stadiummarker. It is believed by many that Kalas never got over the death of his partner and friend, openly stating more than 11 years afterward that he still grieved over Ashburn's death.

Memorable calls

Kalas, pictured before the 2007 playoffs
Kalas' familiar home run call was "Swing ... and a long drive, and this ball is ... outta here! Home run ."If it was a gigantic home run, he sometimes inserted "deep (section of outfield)" after "and a long drive" and described it as "that ball's way outta here!"

As a guest on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball on July 15, 2007, Kalas recounted that his famous "outta here" call originated in the mid-1970s. While standing around the batting cage during batting practice, he saw Philllies slugger Greg Luzinski hit a ball into the upper deck, to which Philly shortstop Larry Bowa reacted with the words, "Wow! That's way outta here." Kalas said that it had a nice "unique ring to it and has been using it ever since".

Other broadcasters have used Kalas' "outta here" call, including Gary Cohen of the New York Mets, Jerry Coleman of the San Diego Padres, and Terry Smith of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Kalas made, arguably, his most memorable call on April 18, 1987, when Mike Schmidt hit his 500th career home run.

In 1980, after the Phillies won the World Series, Kalas and the rest of the Phillies' radio crew re-created the call that Kalas probably would have made when Tug McGraw struck out Willie Wilson to win Game 6 and the World Series between the Phillies and the Kansas City Royals.

This call was not made live by Kalas, as MLB radio-broadcasting regulations at the time forbade local stations from producing live coverage of World Series games, instead forcing them to air the national feed of the games. Philadelphia fans were so outraged about this afterward that they started a letter-writing campaign to the Commissioner's Office, demanding a change to the rule. Due at least in part to this outcry from Philadelphia fans, Major League Baseball later amended its broadcast contracts to allow local announcers to broadcast World Series games on the team's flagship radio station, beginning in 1982.

Another memorable call by Kalas was his description of Mitch Williams's strikeout of Bill Pecota for the final out of Game 6 of the 1993 National League Championship Series between the Phillies and Atlanta Braves:

On August 9, 2006, Kalas called a close play at the plate as Chase Utley scored from second base against the Atlanta Braves:

Here is the call by Kalas when the Phillies clinched the 2007 National League East division title on the last day of the season, completing a comeback as they erased a seven-game deficit behind the New York Mets in early September:

Kalas' call on the Phillies' victory in Game 5 of the 2008 NLCS:

On October 29, 2008, Kalas was finally able to call a Phillies' championship-winning moment in the World Series when Brad Lidge struck out Eric Hinske to win the 104th Fall Classic 1:

Kalas made his final call on April 12, 2009, during the Phillies game against the Colorado Rockies:

Awards and honors

Nicknamed "Harry the K" by Phillies fans, Kalas received the Ford C. Frick Award from the National Baseball Hall of Famemarker in 2002. In 2004, he was named Person of the Year by the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia. That year, he was also inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame, as a member of the charter class (21 members). He was named Pennsylvania Sportscaster of the Year 18 times.

Harry also helped announce the ceremonial closing of Veterans Stadiummarker on September 28, 2003 and was the master of ceremonies at the ceremonial opening of Citizens Bank Parkmarker in 2004.

At Citizens Bank Park, the restaurant built into the base of the main scoreboard is named "Harry the K's" in Kalas's honor. After Kalas's death, the Phillies' TV-broadcast booth was renamed "The Harry Kalas Broadcast Booth". It is directly next to the radio-broadcast booth, which is named "The Richie 'Whitey' Ashburn Broadcast Booth".

When Kalas died on April 13, 2009, fans created an impromptu memorial tribute to him at the base of the statue of Mike Schmidt at the Third Base Gate of Citizens Bank Park.

In June 2009, the National Radio Hall of Fame and Museum announced that Kalas would be posthumously inducted into its Hall of Fame. Thirteen other sportscasters were previously inducted into the Hall of Fame.

In 2009, Kalas was that year's inductee into the Philadelphia Baseball Wall of Fame. As of 2009, Kalas is the only person inducted who was not either a player or manager.

Other ventures

In addition to his work with the Phillies and NFL Films, Kalas called various sports over the years for the Mutual Broadcasting System, CBS Radio, and Westwood One (including the NFL, MLB, college basketball, and Notre Dame football). For many years, he narrated the "Alcoa Fantastic Finishes" in-game highlights spots, for use during NFL telecasts. His voice was used for narration of the PBS 39marker documentary on the Lehigh-Lafayette Rivalry Football Game, produced in 2004.

Harry lent his voice to the commercials for the movie Leatherheads, as well as commercials for the Campbell Soup Company (including Campbell's Chunky Soup), GMC Truck, Sega Genesis Sports Games, Coors Light, and others.

Kalas provided the recorded voice-over for much of the self-guided tours at the United States Mint in Philadelphia and the Gateway Archmarker in St. Louis.

He also narrated/commentated Animal Planet's Puppy Bowls I-V from 2005–2009.

He also made an appearance on the song "Rain Delay" by the Philadelphia-based rock group Marah.


Kalas was known for his love of the Frank Sinatra song, High Hopes. He sang that song at numerous events, including the Phillies' championship celebrations in his later years. His most famous singing of High Hopes came in 1993 when he sang to the team after they clinched the NL East division title. On April 17, 2009, at the first home game after Kalas's death, fans sang along with a video of Harry singing High Hopes during the seventh-inning stretch, instead of the traditional Take Me Out to the Ball Game.

He was very accessible to Phillies fans, for whom he professed a deep love. Kalas would take time after every home game to greet fans and sign autographs at the stadium's employee entrance, and would not leave until all fans' requests were taken care of. He also answered all of his own fan mail personally.

Kalas also wrote numerous poems, primarily related to baseball.


Kalas died of heart disease on Monday, April 13, 2009, in Washington, D.C.marker He had collapsed in the Nationals Parkmarker press box at approximately 12:30 pm, several hours before the Washington Nationals' home opener against the Phillies. Kalas was rushed to George Washington University Hospitalmarker where he was pronounced dead at 1:20 pm EDT. "We lost Harry [today]," David Montgomery, the team president, said. "We lost our voice." Before the game began, Kalas' death was announced to the crowd, his picture was displayed on the scoreboard, and the stadium observed a minute of silence. The Phillies went on to win the game, 9–8. The Phillies saluted Kalas by placing a picture of him in their dugout during the game. Center fielder Shane Victorino also saluted Kalas after hitting a solo home run by pointing up to the press box where Kalas would have called the game. Phillies fans created a makeshift memorial at the Mike Schmidt statue outside of Citizens Bank Park (at the Third Base Gate) shortly after Kalas's death was announced.

Kalas suffered from atherosclerosis and hypertension in his later years, but those illnesses did not seem to affect his announcing abilities; he had called the Phillies/Rockies game on April 12, the day before his death. Kalas was in his 39th season with the Phillies.

Though the Phillies were scheduled to visit the White Housemarker on April 14 to celebrate their 2008 World Series championship, the visit was postponed so that the day could be set aside to remember Kalas. Their White House visit was pushed back to May 15, coinciding with the Phillies' next scheduled visit to town to play the Nationals.

On Saturday, April 18, 2009, Kalas became the fourth person to be given the honor of having their body lie in repose inside a baseball stadium — after Babe Ruth, Jack Buck, and Miller Huggins — when his casket was displayed behind home plate and fans were encouraged to pay their respects at Citizens Bank Parkmarker. Kalas's casket was passed along by friends, broadcast partners, and every player on the Phillies team roster, before it was placed in a hearse which carried him out of Citizens Bank Park one final time. After leaving the ballpark, Kalas's body was laid to rest in a private service at Philadelphia's historic Laurel Hill Cemeterymarker. His gravesite is situated on a scenic bluff above the Schuylkill River, overlooking the city he so loved. In August 2009, two pairs of seats from Veterans Stadium were installed at his graveside, one pair on each side, facing each other at a 45º angle.


The patch worn over the heart of all Phillies players and coaches in 2009
The Philadelphia Phillies honored Kalas for the remainder of the 2009 season with a round, black "HK" patch over the heart on all player, coach, and manager jerseys. Additionally, Kalas's famous "Outta Here!" call was played at Citizens Bank Park after every Phillies home run, and a billboard featuring a microphone, his initials and lifespan ("HK 1936–2009") are displayed on the wall in left-center field.

Following Kalas' death, the Phillies began playing "High Hopes" at Citizens Bank Park after every Phillies win.

The Phillies TV broadcast booth was renamed "The Harry Kalas Broadcast Booth" (which is situated next to the Phillies Radio booth, named "The Richie 'Whitey' Ashburn Broadcast Booth"). Both booths are draped in black. Replicas of his autograph ("Harry Kalas HOF 2002") were painted on the field at Citizens Bank Park in foul territory along the baselines near the coaches' boxes just beyond first base and third base for the first home series after Kalas's death. The wording "HOF 2002" refers to his receiving the Ford C. Frick Award from the National Baseball Hall of Famemarker in 2002.

Phillies fan Antonio Jose initiated an online petition seeking support for a statue of Kalas to be erected outside the Phillies' ballpark. As of November 2009, there were 18,000 signatories. Sculptor Lawrence Nowlan has begun work on a model for the statue.

See also


External links

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