MLB: Phillies president – ‘We lost our voice’
By Howard Fendrich
WASHINGTON ó Radio and TV broadcaster Harry Kalas, whose baritone delivery and signature “Outta here!” home run calls provided the soundtrack to Philadelphia baseball for nearly four decades, died Monday after collapsing in the broadcast booth before the Phillies’ game against the Washington Nationals. He was 73.
“We lost our voice today,” Phillies president David Montgomery said. “He has loved our game and made just a tremendous contribution to our sport and certainly to our organization.”
Familiar to millions of sports fans outside Philadelphia for his voiceover work with NFL Films, “Harry the K” was beloved at home. Since 1971, he was the man who was the bearer of news ó good and bad ó to those who followed the losingest franchise in major professional sports.
“Players come and go,” Phillies radio broadcaster Scott Franzke said, “but ‘Outta here!’ ó that’s forever.”
When the Phillies won their second World Series title last fall, Kalas ó who normally called only the middle three innings on radio ó was in the booth for the last out of the clincher. He then joined the on-field celebration, grabbing a microphone to sing Frank Sinatra’s “High Hopes.”
That song was among several Kalas standbys that endeared him to Phillies supporters. Another: He would call homers off the bat of a certain Hall of Fame third baseman by noting the player’s full name ó “Michael Jack Schmidt.”
The Phillies had been scheduled to meet President Barack Obama at the White House today, a day off, to be honored as World Series champions, but the event was postponed.
Kalas didn’t get to call the final out of Philadelphia’s other title, in 1980, because Major League Baseball prevented local broadcasts of the World Series games. But Phillies fans complained and the rule was later changed.
A 2002 recipient of the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Ford C. Frick Award for his contributions to the game, Kalas was one of the last longtime announcers closely associated with one city. Another, Vin Scully, threw out the first pitch at the Los Angeles Dodgers’ home opener Monday, marking his 60th year with that club.
“He was not only a multitalented fellow with a wonderful voice,” Scully said. “He was a lovely guy. I mean, everybody liked Harry. The city of Philadelphia will just be in mourning because they loved him so much. I’m happy for him that his team was world champions last year, so he had the thrill of that.”
The Nationals and Phillies discussed whether it would be appropriate to postpone the game, but Montgomery said Kalas “would have wanted to play the game.” There was a moment of silence in Kalas’ memory before the first pitch in Washington and at other baseball stadiums around the country Monday.