Tag Archives: Harry Kalas

A powerful weekend in Philly sports

As a day well-spent brings happy sleep, so life well used brings happy death. – Leonardo da Vinci

First things first: my utmost commendations to the Phillies organization for a wonderful, touching, and heart-wrenching service for Harry Kalas on Saturday afternoon. Unless you are an alien from a planet renowned for its lack of emotion, you probably watched most of the procession through misty eyes. Lord knows this Pundit did.

I think the moment that will always stand out for me from the day, a moment that was just so beautiful and emotional, was watching Harry’s friends, family and members of the Phillies pass his casket down the line, as “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” played over the PA system. A proper send-off to a beloved man.

We’ll always love you, Harry. Do me a favor – ask Whitey if he can smell the rain coming up there in heaven, would you?

One final footnote to the procession – people around the country can say what they want about Philadelphia fans, conjuring up embellished stories of the day we murdered Santa Claus, or whatever the hell it was we did. But they can never say that this city does not love its own with a passion rarely found elsewhere. The key to that sentence, of course, is “its own.” Philly won’t call you its own just because you live here, or work here, or play here. Philly will call you its own if you bust your butt off, displaying a love for what you do and the people you do it with…if you’re good at what you do but never arrogant…if you give everything you have; and if that isn’t enough, you make no excuses, just give a little bit more next time…if you understand that we will ride you when you aren’t performing up to your capabilities, but we will embrace you wholeheartedly when you do…that our energy and excitement will propel you to victory if you put yourself in a position to win.

Harry understood that, embraced it, and embodied it. That fact, as much as his golden pipes, made him one of the most treasured figures this city has ever known.

Because, at the end of the day, this town isn’t for everybody. Let all of those who don’t understand grit, hard work, undying passion, despair in defeat, and unadulterated joy in victory live somewhere else. We will continue to live and die with every pitch, pass and shot. We will continue to heckle the slackers, praise the scrappers, and love our teams through thick and thin, even if that means the boos rain down in a stifling display of tough love.

This is Philadelphia – this is the place for those with a thick skin, a workmanlike attitude, and a heart almost too big for the chest it beats in.

This is our city. And Harry fit right in. You will not be forgotten, HK.

Now to the events on the diamond, ice and court. Continue reading

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A sad day in Philadelphia – Goodbye, Harry Kalas

It happened in the top of the third. Shane Victorino led off the inning, and CRACK – the ball soared toward deep right-field, destined for the stands. I was waiting for the call.  “This one is well struck…it’s got a chance…watch this ba-by, outtaaaaa heeeeeere. Home run, Shane Victor-ino”

But not today. Not ever again.

Harry Kalas, at the age of 73, has passed away.

In the course of my 24 years, I’ve watched a lot of baseball, almost all of them Phillies games. And for just about every one, it was the golden-tinged pipes of Harry Kalas that would deliver the action.

It is strange, watching this game against the Nationals, to not hear that voice, the voice that accompanied me through hazy summer nights, the voice that would rise and fall with every pitch, hit and catch, the voice that called the action with the expertise and grace of a professional, and the passion and wonderment of a fan.

That was the thing about Harry – it wasn’t just some job, some gig to pay the bills. You always sensed that it was his life, that he absolutely loved every moment of it, and it translated into every call he made. If he was the voice of the Phillies, then he was the heart of the Philadelphia fans.

Over the next few days and weeks and probably even months, we’ll look back on his career here in Philadelphia, fondly retelling stories and recounting our favorite calls. Sometimes in death, the living look back on the deceased with a newfound sense of endearment and respect, the old cliche that you don’t know what you have until it is gone rearing its ugly head at the most tragic of moments.

But with Harry, we always knew what we had.

As voices go – at least for sports announcers – his was the Statue of David, Starry Night, or, seeing as he was announcing in Philadelphia, perhaps “Rhapsody in Blue”. Yes, “Rhapsody in Blue” nails it – steeped in the pillars of classical music, but bravely infusing colorful splashes of jazz and, more importantly, the proper mix of pathos and joy.

That was Harry – he knew the game, was well-versed in its history, but embraced its changing nature and its changing athletes. He was old-school, but he was cool, too, his exclamations of “Chase Utley, you are the MAN” the perfect way of expressing his gratitude toward the gritty and exciting nature with which Utley plays.

His calls always just felt right, always fit, always perfectly mirrored the way you were experiencing the developments he described.

And that voice; how beautiful and immortal those pipes were. They sounded like top-shelf scotch and a long, slowly-drawn cigar. His game was obviously baseball, but he could have announced a spelling bee, and you would have watched with hairs standing on end. You could imagine him standing in the booth and pumping his fist after a strikeout to seal the Phils win, his call of “Struuuck him out, Phillies win,” bringing a smile to your face every time.

I didn’t know the man personally, but I felt like I did. I grew up on that voice.

What more can you say? The hardest part might be that, were this someone else that left us from the Phillies organization, it would have been Harry who would have given us the words we needed to hear, Harry who would have respectfully led us through our sorrow.

Harry, what would you have us say now?

He’d probably smile, and maybe put his hand on our shoulder, and say nothing more then “Play ball,” his eyes glistening with memories of the game he loved.

We’ll try, Harry, but it sure won’t be easy without you.

We’ll miss you, Harry Kalas. You were a legend, a professional, a baseball aficienado, a hell of a talent, and in Philadelphia, even to countless people who never knew you beyond your work in the booth, a friend. You were one of us, and though we mourn now, we will remember you fondly.

My deepest sympathies go out to his family, friends, and all of those he touched.

May you rest in peace, Harry.

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The Pundit hands out some hardware for Philly’s best this year – It’s the first annual Punny Awards!

(Editor’s note: Ah, New Year’s. A time of year for all of the various articles handing out “best-of-the-year” awards to come pouring out. Not to be outdone, The Pundit has joined in the holiday tradition with his first annual “Punny Awards.” One quick note: These awards will not include the current Flyers, Sixers, or any of the college basketball teams. Everything will be from teams that played the majority of their season in 2008. On to the awards!)

Award shows are really where it’s at. I mean, they’re so ridiculous. Famous audience members pretending to not posture for the camera. Cheesy video montages. And, my favorite, the poorly scripted and unenthusiastically delivered introductions to each award by disinterested celebrities who are probably half-tanked. I think that’s how we’ll run the Punnies.

And so, with that in mind, please put your hands together for Samuel L. Jackson, who will be presenting the Punny for Quote of the Year. Continue reading

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Filed under Eagles, Flyers, MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, Phillies, Sixers, The Punny Awards