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April 14, 2009: "The Voice, The Echoes, The Silence" 
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Post April 14, 2009: "The Voice, The Echoes, The Silence"
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Tue Apr 14, 2009 11:22 am
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Post Re: April 14, 2009: "The Voice, The Echoes, The Silence"
I absolutely understand the way you feel about HK. I live in Tennessee, and growing up I rarely got to attend UT football games. And when the games weren't on TV or when I wasn't near one, I listened to John Ward's calls on the radio. John Ward still is THE voice of the Vols. His final game was the Fiesta Bowl/National Championship in '99. I spent the whole game with the TV muted listening to John's calls. Even though he's retired and not dead, UT games are not the same.

Of course, you don't get to know football announcers quite so well as baseball announcers, but still, not hearing John Ward on the VolNetwork is still strange to me.


Tue Apr 14, 2009 11:42 am
Post Re: April 14, 2009: "The Voice, The Echoes, The Silence"
James,
I completely echo your thoughts on the passing of Harry the K. I have lived in Philly for most of my life(with the exception of 5 years i moved away post college only to come back) and have been a baseball fan since about the age of 5. That put me into the year after the Phillies first World Series. I waited 27 years to see them win it all and along the way I suffered through many many losing seasons. During those times, it was Harry who was the brightest star, not the countless below average players who came and went. In many ways, it was like Harry personally taught me the game and his voice became a calming, soothing one over the years. If you are a baseball fan, as I know you are, you spend 162 nights or at least parts of nights with your team and having someone like Harry broadcasting those games night in and out, it's like he becomes part of the family. He was the voice to all of the great moments that made me love baseball and then when it was another long cold winter without playoff baseball, there he was as the voice for NFL films. I don't know that I have ever been as touched by the death of a figure I did not know. There was a pall in the city yesterday. I had friends who just couldn't finish their work day. The city lost it's greatest figure since Frank Rizzo. A few weeks ago, before the season started some friends and I watched the Phillies playoff run on DVD to get ready for the start of this year and to put last year behind us. When we got to the clinching game, we switched the audio to the local team so we could hear Harry call it. He didn't get a chance to call 1980 due to the rules at the time and hearing him call game five was thrilling. Just this Sunday, his call of Matt Stairs' go ahead home run was classic. He was a class act and will be missed here. Dave Montgomery summed it up better than anyone else could, "We lost our voice". Harry, we loved you.

Joe


Tue Apr 14, 2009 11:52 am
Post Re: April 14, 2009: "The Voice, The Echoes, The Silence"
It's going to be tough to watch and listen to Phillies games for the rest of the season.

I came close to breaking down when I had the game on the radio and Larry Andersen was at a loss for words when they got to the fourth inning--Harry Kalas's homerun payoff inning. A few minutes before then, they had tried to focus their attention on the game (as best they could), but it was impossible. I have no idea how they made it through that broadcast.

Rest in peace, Harry. The voice of summertime--backyard BBQs, fireflies, long and homework-free nights--has gone silent. I, for one, will miss you.


Tue Apr 14, 2009 12:35 pm
Post Re: April 14, 2009: "The Voice, The Echoes, The Silence"
Players, coaches, owners, even stadiums don't always stick around as long as a good announcer. They're as much a part of a team's identity as their uniform colors.

I felt the way you do about with Bob Murphy. I was born the same year the Mets were. He was the sound of summer nights all through my childhood, and then a good chunk of my adulthood, when I returned to NJ after living in other parts of the country for 11 years. Summers literally do not sound the same without that voice, the same way they wouldn't if a local species of bird or cricket were to suddenly disappear.


Tue Apr 14, 2009 1:34 pm
Post Re: April 14, 2009: "The Voice, The Echoes, The Silence"
Yeah, I was shocked when Tim Neverett mentioned it during the Pirates home opener on TV yesterday. I was surprised when the local news mentioned that he was a University of Iowa graduate. I had no idea he was a midwestern guy.

Harry was great to listen to. I usually try to avoid the opposing teams announcers on MLB Extra Innings, except when they play the Phillies (Harry Kalas), Dodgers (Vin Scully) and Diamondbacks (Mark Grace). I always wanted to listen to Harry because he just had one of those voices, perfect for announcing sports on TV and radio, likely created by his whiskey and cigars. As a Pirates fan, I developed a real dislike toward the Atlanta Braves after the 91 and 92 NLCS. My all time favorite Harry call is: "Swing and a miss! Struck him out! The Phillies are the '93 National League Champions!"


Tue Apr 14, 2009 2:35 pm
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Joined: Tue Apr 14, 2009 11:04 am
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Post Re: April 14, 2009: "The Voice, The Echoes, The Silence"
In your article you write: "Anyone who has lived in or around Philadelphia knows the name Harry Kalas".

Funny, I've lived in the Philly suburbs my entire life and I have never heard of him until his death.

But I also know very little, hardly anything about sports. So that's probably why.


Tue Apr 14, 2009 2:37 pm
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Post Re: April 14, 2009: "The Voice, The Echoes, The Silence"
This was some real heavy news yesterday. A couple of my friends and I were getting some lunch at restaurant near Temple U when the news came on a TV at the bar. The bartender told everybody to shut up and just turned up the volume and everyone just sat there and stared at the TV as the news broke that Kalas had died. The whole place was quiet and just shocked, I've never been in a public place that felt that eerie. The sense of loss was palpable, worst lunch I've ever had.

Kalas and the Phillies always bring to mind summers with my grandmother. I remember watching Phillies games with her and listening to Kalas call the games. I remember being 7 or 8 years old and telling my grandmother that Kalas has the coolest voice ever and then imitating it, like we all have, to the rest of the day.

It's especially sad because of the Phillies winning the World Series last season. On one hand he got to be there and call a for a huge triumph, but on the other hand the renewed interest in the Phillies after the championship would have meant a renewed interest and appreciation for Kalas. A sad day to be a Philadelphian.


Tue Apr 14, 2009 2:43 pm
Post Re: April 14, 2009: "The Voice, The Echoes, The Silence"
The man had an amazing voice. When I read about his death I wish I had known more about the man. His voice was well known to me from NFL Films. His voice added so much to those films. Loved watching them when they were on ESPN.

Ernie Harwell is my Harry Kalas. When he passes I will know just how JB and Phillies fans feel.


Tue Apr 14, 2009 7:41 pm
Post Re: April 14, 2009: "The Voice, The Echoes, The Silence"
James,
I love all your ReelThoughts about baseball, and they always strike a particular chord with me. I can completely relate to the feeling of getting to know someone through their writing, or broadcasting, or artwork, etc. I am a Yankees fan who goes to school in Massachusetts, but John Sterling has made the journey with me and updates me on all the games. His announcing is ridiculous sometimes, and half the time I have no idea what's going on in the game, but he's always entertaining and he has always been the voice I heard when I turned on a Yankees broadcast. Other announcers came and went, but John Sterling has always been the constant, and I never really thought about how much he had become a "background cornerstone" in my life until I read your article. It's easy enough to take someone for granted when you see them and speak to them regularly, but it's even easier when they're consistently there, the same voice, the same person, announcing for the same team, season after season, without ever even knowing most of the people who hear them and are impacted by them.

That's the thing, though - people who put their words in a public forum, who publish newspaper articles and write movie reviews and announce broadcasts, never really go silent. Their work is the legacy they leave behind. People will always be able to hear Russ Hodges' voice famously calling, "The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!" People have listened to Harry Kalas for years, and his voice will undoubtedly be heard even after his death. He may not influence the next generation of Phillies fans, but he certainly has influenced the last, and in their memories his legacy lives. That's what you get when you put your voice out there - you may be criticized, you may be ridiculed, but while the voices of your critics will one day fade into silence, yours always remains a resonant echo from the past.


Tue Apr 14, 2009 9:22 pm
Post Re: April 14, 2009: "The Voice, The Echoes, The Silence"
I'm not a baseball fan at all. When I lived in Milwaukee, however, I never missed a game that Bob Uecker was calling. I'm sorry you lost your Uecker.


Tue Apr 14, 2009 11:12 pm
Post Re: April 14, 2009: "The Voice, The Echoes, The Silence"
James - I'm not much of a baseball fan and I don't know Harry Kalas, but I have to say that was a really fantastic commentary. Thank you.


Wed Apr 15, 2009 2:07 am
Post Re: April 14, 2009: "The Voice, The Echoes, The Silence"
Hey Mr. B,

Your HK was my Chick Hearn for the Los Angleles Lakers. When he passed away, the pep of watching the Lakers just went with him. I always loved to hear him put the game in "the refrigerator, the door's closed, lights out, eggs are cooling, and the butter is getting hard." I grew up listening to Chick call the game...and that was how I knew the game was supposed to be called. Since his passing, the game has not been the same. I cannot watch the Lakers without yearning for the poetry of prose that Chick had for the game of basketball.

I am a Dodger fan, as well...but I don't even want to think about the same thing with Vin. That has been the only voice associated with Dodgers that I have known my entire life.

Real touch of class on your part writing that RealThoughts. Shows the type of person that you are.

Quote:
For those of us who put our words into a public forum, whether radio, television, print, or Internet, it's worth remembering that those words form a bond with individuals we have never met or may never meet in person. My wife, for example, "knew" me long before I ever corresponded with her. True, I reach only thousands while Harry touched millions, but I understand the connection from both sides. I never shook hands with Harry, but he was like a family member; I knew him even if he did not know me. I don't know most of those reading this column but hopefully you feel you know me. I write with an audience in mind and a certain humbling recognition that people out there are devoting precious minutes absorbing what I have written.


Through this forum, I have found to respect you more and more...though I have never met you. Keep up the good work...you know we are reading.


Wed Apr 15, 2009 2:07 am
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Joined: Thu Mar 26, 2009 9:21 pm
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Post Re: April 14, 2009: "The Voice, The Echoes, The Silence"
It is amazing how a annoucer of a game could strike such a cord. When Joe Nuxhall passed away, Cincinnati Reds fans were deeply saddened. I feel for fans of the Phillies (or NFL films). Enjoy the memories.


Wed Apr 15, 2009 11:44 am
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Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2009 4:52 pm
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Location: North Carolina
Post Re: April 14, 2009: "The Voice, The Echoes, The Silence"
I'm not a Phillies fan, but I have fond memories of Harry from before he moved to Philadelphia. I was a kid in Texas back in the sixties when Harry was one of the broadcasters for the Astros. In fact, he was calling the games when the Astros were changed from their original name, the Colt 45's. He was well liked and respected even then, and a lot of fans were disappointed when he left to go to Philly. Harry was an exceptional talent, and he will be missed.


Wed Apr 15, 2009 11:46 am
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Post Re: April 14, 2009: "The Voice, The Echoes, The Silence"
James,

thoughts are with you,

When we lost Jack Buck, the emotions felt as you described, I heard the announcement in traffic on the way home from work, they announced it on KMOX the large AM drive time radio station that hosted the Cardinals for years and years,

The lights turned from red to green, not a car moved, people were crying in the cars, and no one honked, Most folks listened to KMOX in the early afternoon drive and it just happened that around me that day were lots of cardinal fans.

I was also present when the caravan from the funeral to the cemetary passed me by, folks pulled over, got out of their cars, and waited along the side of the road with hats and hands over their hearts, all throughout the entire city of St. Louis along the entire route on the interstate folks pulled over way in advance without a police request and waited alongside their cars to pay their respects to a friend lost.

all my best,

Wade


Wed Apr 15, 2009 5:29 pm
Post Re: April 14, 2009: "The Voice, The Echoes, The Silence"
I was driving down a highway when I heard the news, and so when the game came on I listened to the radio call. The broadcasters could not hold it together and it was one of the most heartbreaking things I could have heard at the time. Even a guy like Scott Franzke who had only known Harry for a little over 2 years was torn up by his death, and this really speaks to how many people loved him. I always knew Harry was a legend and a treasure, but unfortunately it took his death for me to realize how much he meant to my enjoyment of baseball.

HK was a part of so many people's lives for 6 months out of each year, and I doubt that any other person's death (whom I had never met) could have affected me so much. I'm watching the first home game after his death now, and it seems that the Phillies are doing some really nice things to pay tribute to him. I'll try and make it to the viewing on the field tomorrow but I can't imagine how many people will be there.

For those people who follow teams who have broadcasters who are parts of your lives (i.e. Vin Scully, Bob Uecker, etc.), make sure you don't take them for granted.


Fri Apr 17, 2009 7:41 pm
Post Re: April 14, 2009: "The Voice, The Echoes, The Silence"
Just let me say that once again, you have written a moving and elegant piece on HK. I'm continuously impressed with your commentary and envious of your language skills. RIP HK....MountainMan


Sat Apr 18, 2009 12:03 am
Post Re: April 14, 2009: "The Voice, The Echoes, The Silence"
James,

Your Reelthought is one of the most meaningful eulogy I've read. It's obvious that HK was someone who meant a lot to you. Whereever he is, I'm sure he knows!


Mon Apr 20, 2009 12:40 pm
Post Re: April 14, 2009: "The Voice, The Echoes, The Silence"
Baseball is blessed with the very best broadcasters, at least in my opinion. The most iconic is probably Vin Scully--he's the voice of competent, relevant baseball broadcasting, the best ever in that role, at least as far as I'm concerned.

Then there are some of the more endearing local, more down-home broadcasters; some are gone now, people like Mel Allen and the Twins' Herb Carneal. Some are still with us, including the Royals' Denny Matthews or (my hometown favorite) Dave Niehaus of the Mariners.

Niehaus will always be my favorite, Scully will always be the broadcaster, but if you could combine the best of both, you'd get Kalas. You could make similar arguments about Jack Buck, who was phenomenal, but for my money, Kalas was the gold standard.

James, you and I are the same age, and we had season tickets for our teams over the same rough period of time (I still attend 5-10 games per year, but my kids are more interested in MLS). I'll be devastated when Dave Niehaus finally ends his run (for whatever reason).

I don't say stuff like this lightly, particularly insofar as we don't really know each other, but my thoughts are truly with you. I get how a baseball broadcaster can become like a member of the family, and you lost a wonderful man.


Tue Apr 21, 2009 2:37 am
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