I return from vacation in Spain and this, unfortunately, is the news that greets me upon the perusal of the news that day. As you can probably infer from the posts on the blog, I am a Phillies fan and Philly native (living in that area apart from school until I was 24).
Spring and summer were spiced with the intermittent sprinklings of baseball games and baseball experiences. The voices of the green seasons were Harry Kalas, Richie "Whitey" Ashburn, Andy Musser, and Chris Wheeler for many years of my childhood. They gave explanation and meaning to events on the field as I huddled with a blanket arching over my clockradio straining to hear the game happenings. This occurred frequently since my bedtime was before 9:00 until I was 10 years old and of course; most games started at the punctual time of 7:35.
The voice of Harry Kalas and his interplay with Richie Ashburn during their 3 innings together on the radio and then on the TV broadcast enriched those lean Phillies years. There was an understated combination of seriousness and excitement to his approach that brought the fans closer to the baseball diamond.
In my memory, he was punctual with the score, the count, and all the other numbers a young boy needs to know as he listens or watches a game. He taught me that Mike Schmidt's full name was Michael Jack Schmidt, that Lenny Dykstra's real name was "Nails", that it was really Darren "Dutch" Daulton, and the Krukker was the moniker for John Kruk.
His most signature calls, of course, are "It's Outta Here!" (usually preceded by long drive to xxx field, way back!....) and "Swing and a miss, sttt-ruck him out!". They were classy and lent stirring punctuation to these occurrences.
My favorite thing that he said was when he disagreed with an umpire's call. He didn't argue or rail about it. He simply stated, "Straight down the middle for a ball."
The fact is that he will be missed since listening to Phillies games will not be the same. And though I have never met him, there are many stories out there about his kindness and charitable nature.
His voice and presence are etched in all our memories and recorded for all to recall. Here's to Harry Kalas.