The Phillies and the world of baseball lost a legend today in Hall of Fame Broadcaster, Harry Kalas, 73. I was at Nationals Park when it happened, unaware of the events going on above me in the broadcast booth. When I saw the tribute photo on the scoreboard right before the game and realized what had happened, my heart sunk. Looking quickly at my cell phone which I had apparently left the ringer off, I saw the 8 missed calls from people trying to reach me so I would not be shocked by the news. But I had been wandering around the ballpark for 2 ½ hours at that point, and since I never looked at the phone, I had no idea. I sat down in my chair and cried, and much to my own surprise, I was not able to stop. By the 4th inning, the Nationals fan next to me finally decided to try cracking a few jokes to see if I would snap out of it. I tried to distract myself by taking photos, but I just couldn’t shake it.
The Phillies won the game, but I do not remember most of what happened. Harry had been with the team since 1971 and I just kept thinking, I was born in 1972 and had been listening to this man literally my entire life. To me, he was baseball. Not only that, but I have had the great privilege over the last four years or so to have occasionally spent time with Harry, talking about baseball and listening to his stories. I keep thinking about the last time we spoke this past January after an award dinner, when I teased him about his terrible smoking habit again; and again, he smiled and told me , “I know, I know.” I keep thinking about all the stories I am never going to hear again; I’ll never hear his signature, “It’s outta here!” or his famous rendition of “High Hopes.” I thought of Harry as a friend, as did nearly anyone who had the pleasure of meeting him. But that was just Harry; he made even the most casual fan feel like you had known him forever. The man had a big heart and you could feel it when he entered a room.
I had a very long two hour car ride home tonight where I tried desperately to drown out the voices in my head and fight back tears, but I am still at a loss. I know Harry would not want us to be mired in sadness, but how can we not. Harry touched the lives of everyone he met and anyone who ever heard his voice; baseball will never be the same without him. The world will never be the same without him. I try to tell myself that death is a part of life in which we will all someday share; that there is another Angel looking down upon us. But none of these things will bring comfort right now to the heavy hearts of all who knew Harry.
My heart goes out to Harry’s family and friends. Let us grieve for today, and tomorrow, celebrate a life that will never be forgotten. We will miss you, Harry.
Photos by Jenn