Harry Kalas, Thank You for Touching My Life

April 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Fan News

I know I’m a little behind in the cycle to be writing an article about Harry Kalas, but I definitely feel it is important to write, even if only for myself.

Anyone who reads what I write regularly, you may have noticed that I rarely ever use the word “I” or “me”.  I feel like we are all writing our own opinions on here, so why should I make any of my statements about me??

Well this time, I’m going to break that rule.  Harry Kalas meant a lot to me, as he meant a lot to most Philadelphians.  For most of us, he has been a part of every Phillies memory we have ever had.

Probably the most amazing thing about Harry is not how many years he did it, or the fact that he was a Hall of Famer.  It is probably the fact that he announced all those years for teams that were generally pretty bad, and he still made it enjoyable.

I was born in 1979, so my memory is from about 1986 through now.  If you think about formative years, growing up, generally you would think about ages 6-21.  For me that would be the 1986 season through the 2000 season.

Over that time, the Phillies had a winning record just twice and reached the playoffs only once.  They finished last place and lost over 90 games six times.  It was an awful time to be a Phillies fan, but you know what, I still remember it fondly.

I remember it fondly mostly because of Harry Kalas.  He was a treat to listen to and one of the most fun people to try to imitate.  Through those years, Harry Kalas WAS the Phillies.

I remember going to Business Person’s Specials with my uncle Don and my cousins.  We would generally watch the team lose, but we would always listen to the postgame show in the car specifically to hear Harry’s calls on the more memorable plays.

Maybe it was two-run double by Juan Samuel, or a “grand slam homerun” by Kim Batiste.

Even as a 21-year-old, I would still do that. 

I’ve been lucky to be an Eagles season ticket holder since 2000.  I have the tickets with the same two cousins I used to go to those Phillies games with. 

As much as we love Merrill Reese, I can never remember us racing to the car to hear Merrill make a call.

Harry was so integrated into the fabric of Phillies fans that, in a movie about Mike Schmidt’s quest for 500 career homers, there was an entire scene dedicated to fans and players giving their rendition of how Harry would call that historic “long drive”.

Beyond just the memories of the games and the highlights and commentating whiffle ball or bounce pitch games in Harry’s voice, I have one more special memory.

I’m sure most people remember when Who Wants to be a Millionaire first became popular.  My parents and sisters and I would all sit around and watch it, all trying to answer all the questions.

One particular question was “What is it called when two baseball games are played in succession?”  I don’t remember all of the choices, but aside from the correct term “double header” there was one that stood out to me…

Dutch treat.  I don’t know why, but I just started, in my very best attempt at Harry’s unique voice and style, “Here were are at Veterans Stadium for the second game in today’s Dutch Treat.  The Phightin’s took the first game on an RBI double by Mick-eee Mor-an-DEE-NEEE.”

Everyone in the house was cracking up and I was quite proud of myself.  Naturally, like most little things in life, I eventually forgot about it. 

Then, on the day my mom passed away, my dad handed me and each of my three sisters a bundle of photocopied papers with our name on it.  It was a journal my mom started keeping after she was diagnosed with cancer.

She had a section for each of us, and the majority of mine were about how, even though I had sort of lost my way, she had faith that I would figure things out and be everything she thought I could be.

But then, I came upon an entry from November 20, 1999.  The entry closed with this:

“Share what you have to offer with the world.  Don’t hide it.  As I’m writing this I keep thinking about how hard you made me laugh over the “Dutch Treat”.  Keep us laughing, you’re great at it.”

That little goofy moment imitating Harry, something we have all done hundreds of times, turned out to be a special and lasting memory that my mother had of me before he life ended.

I felt strange all week hearing the stories about Harry, and thinking about my own memories of Harry, that I hadn’t cried once.  Well today, that changed.

I watched the tribute at Citizen’s Bank Park and I cried my eyes out.  Hearing Michael Jack Schmidt speak.  Hearing his son speak.  Hearing “High Hopes” one more time.

Harry, I know my memories are no more unique than anyone else’s, but you truly were a treasure.  We are all lucky for having had you be in our living rooms or our cars as often as you were.

We will never hear you call another game or see you taking part in another victory celebration, but we will never forget you.

Thank you Harry Kalas for doing what you did for us.  You weren’t just a play-by-play announcer.  You were a guest in our homes, and you were part of our families.  You were the best, Harry, and we will never, ever forget you.

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

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