ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Harry Kalas: Baseball's Legendary Voice is Silenced

Updated on August 10, 2009

One of the great voices in the history of American sports has been silenced forever. Harry Kalas died doing what he had done better than almost anyone for forty-three years. Harry Kalas died doing what he loved, and what he was born to do. Harry Kalas died today at the ballpark preparing to broadcast a baseball game.

Most kids want to be the guy who hits the home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to win the World Series. Not me. I wanted to be the guy on the radio who called the game winner. I was always more in awe of Russ Hodges than Bobby Thomson. As a kid I remember turning the volume down on the Saturday Game of the Week and pretending to be both Joe Garagiola and Tony Kubek.

After college most of my friends went on to graduate school to hone their skills for their chosen craft or field. After bumbling around the restaurant circuit for a few years, I ended up in a Major League Baseball broadcast booth as an engineer/producer, and although I may not have realized it at the time, it was my graduate school and Harry Kalas was my unknowing professor.

Harry is one of the top twenty greatest baseball announcers of all-time. He is Jackie Robinson and Frank Robinson. He is the Big Unit, The Georgia Peach, and Mordecai "Three Fingers" Brown all rolled into one. His voice is a legend and has been the soundtrack of summer for generations of Philadelphia Baseball Fans.

Harry was incredibly skilled and talented as a broadcaster, but it was his amazing affability that made him an ambassador not just for the Phillies but for the entire City of Philadelphia. Upon meeting him, he made you feel like you were reuniting with a childhood friend because in most cases you were. If you grew up in Philadelphia; you grew up with Harry Kalas.

Harry Kalas
Harry Kalas

For two seasons in the early 1990's, I sat in the producer's seat and watched Harry and his partners Andy Musser, Whitey Ashburn, and Chris Wheeler orchestrate through nine innings night after Philadelphia summer night.

Some nights lasted longer than others. There was that Friday double-header in August 1993 against the Padres when it just wouldn't stop raining. I'll never forget the look on Harry's face when pitcher Mitch Williams came to the plate at 4:30 in the morning in the bottom of the tenth inning of the second game. Harry's call as Williams slapped the ball into centerfield was of course classic, "The game is over on an RBI hit by Mitchyyy-Pooooo."

It was a great call and a perfect example of why Harry is in the Baseball Hall of Fame.


Harry had an incredible sense of the moment. He understood the intricacies of the game, but would never bog you down with minutiae. More than anything, Harry was a storyteller.

A storyteller who happened to have an incredible voice. A voice that was strong yet soothing; melodic but never sing-songy. Harry's voice was unique. Harry's voice will always be synonymous with Philadelphia Baseball.

After leaving my job with the Phillies, I was fortunate to get a chance to do what I always wanted to do. Rarely a game went by when I was broadcasting University of Delaware games or Wilmington Blue Rocks games that I didn't channel something learned from Harry, Andy, or Whitey. For that I will be forever grateful. To have known Harry and to have been fortunate enough to observe him work was truly an honor.

Even though I no longer own a cassette player, I still have a tape of Harry describing a fowl ball off the bat of Mickey Morandini at the old Veterans Stadium. You can hear the ball hit the bat and then Harry's voice briefly fade while he ducks out of the way as the ball screams passed his head ricocheting off the back wall of the broadcast booth. Harry without missing a beat declares that it was, "Snared by Bill Komissaroff our engineer!"

I remember one hangover Sunday summer morning before a Phillies game in August. I was setting up the equipment and Harry was smoking a Parliament cigarette. He looked over at me, broke the silenc,e and opined in that deep, slow Harry voice, "Billy, I'd smoke these things in my sleep if I could just find someone to flick my ash." Classic Harry.

Harry will be remembered best for his call of Mike Schmidt's 500th home run or for the Phillies World Series win last year. But for me it was about the way he connected with the people who were listening to him plus the amazing chemistry he had both on and off the air with Ashburn.

Baseball will never be the same.

Bill Komissaroff April 13, 2009

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Adrianna's Pages 

      9 years ago

      Very well written and moving memorial. You made me feel as though I were in the park eatin' a dog and washing it down with a frosty one... and I'm not even a sports fan...;-)

    • profile image

      Donna 

      9 years ago

      Great article, Bill. My favorite was always the way he'd announce a bad call on a pitch - 'just missed, right down the middle'.

      He was a legend and, you're right, Philadelphia baseball will never be quite the same. Nor will NFL Films.

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 

      9 years ago from Ohio

      This is a wonderful tribute! Your respect for Harry Kalas is evident, he sound like he was a wonderful person! Congratulations on being a part of HubNuggets!

    • GeneriqueMedia profile image

      GeneriqueMedia 

      9 years ago from Earth

      Well done! How about a video in here somewhere?

      Here's one from the AP:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-su7P6uQoa8

      Look forward to reading more of your stuff. =)

      G|M

    • bill komissaroff profile imageAUTHOR

      bill komissaroff 

      9 years ago from Portland O

      Thanks for the kind words Frieda. And thank you ripplemaker.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Hello, hello, hello. Congratulations for being a hubnugget nominee! Visit BT's hub and see what the HUB FUSS is all about. Pretty exciting too. https://hubpages.com/community/HubNuggets-Are-Brai...

      Yes, do click on the link and vote! :-)

    • Frieda Babbley profile image

      Frieda Babbley 

      9 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

      Beautiful dedication. Thanks for sharing this story.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)