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Phillies Legend Kalas Dead At 73

Harry Kalas, the Hall of Fame broadcaster whose voice connected Philadelphia's team and its fans, died today after collapsing in the press box at Nationals Park, leaving behind a void of silence and a mourning organization. Kalas was pronounced dead at 1:20 p.m., almost an hour after he was rushed from the stadium, where he had been scheduled to broadcast the game between the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies.

Kalas was pronounced dead at George Washington University Medical Center. No cause has yet been given. He was 73.

"We lost our voice today," team president David Montgomery said. "He has loved our game and made just a tremendous contribution to our sport and certainly to our organization."

A member of the Philadelphia broadcast team since 1971, Kalas also became part of the city's identity -- and his signature call, "Outta here!" punctuated great home run moments produced by everyone from Mike Schmidt to Lenny Dykstra to Ryan Howard. Kalas, though, had struggled with his health of late, missing time for a recent undisclosed ailment. Still, last Wednesday, he threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Phillies hosted the Atlanta Braves.

At 12:30 today, Kalas fell unconscious in a seventh-floor broadcast booth. He was found by a Phillies director of broadcasting.

Kalas's death prompted the Nationals to reorganize their pre-game ceremonies, but there was never serious consideration to canceling the game -- something that probably would have happened were this game scheduled at Citizens Bank Park. Montgomery, speaking to Washington acting general manager Mike Rizzo before the game, said that Kalas would have wanted to play the afternoon's ballgame. Minutes before the first pitch, Nationals Park observed a moment of silence for the broadcaster.

"He was one of the all-time great voices, and to lose him like this is shocking," said current Washington assistant general manager Bob Boone, who played for the Phillies from 1972 to 1981, winning a World Series in 1980. "He has been such a class person, and has so many friends around baseball -- he just lived it."

Kalas's death triggered an outpouring of emotions and memories. At Nationals Park, fans from Philadelphia thought back to their favorite Kalas moments; his voice was a part of playoff losses and World Series championships alike.

"It's so hard to believe," said Rob Connor, a fan from Toms River, N.J.. "I just watched him yesterday on TV from Colorado. Any highlight you can think of, the first thing I hear in my head is Harry Kalas: 'It's outta here! A home run, and the Phillies take the lead!' It's just surreal."

Kalas missed most of spring training after undergoing surgery in February. The team declined to reveal details of the surgery, saying it was a "minor medical procedure." When news came of Kalas's collapse, Philadelphia closed its clubhouse to the media. Philadelphia players who emerged into the dugout before the game kept their heads down, and appeared somber.

"I think all of us know that we'll try to do the best we can," Philadelphia third base coach Sam Perlozzo said. "But I don't think it's gonna get out of our heads. I don't think that is going to happen, at least not for a little while. I think we'll all pull for each other and help each other out and try to get through it."

The Phillies had planned to visit the White House tomorrow, but have cancelled the trip.

For 26 seasons, Kalas shared a booth with another Philadelphia legend, Richie Ashburn. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame after receiving the Ford C. Frick Award in 2002. He was in the final year of a three-year contract with the Phillies. Kalas also did commercial voice-overs and narrated for NFL Films.

"He would call a spade a spade," Boone said. "But it was never offensive. You knew this was his team, the Phillies. He was a Philadelphia guy."

By Chico Harlan  |  April 13, 2009; 4:39 PM ET
 
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Comments

He was the best....every great Phillies moment of the past 30 years was called by Harry Kalas. He will be greatly missed by anyone who grew up listening to him call games on TV and Radio.

Posted by: dbunkr | April 13, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Why would there be any consideration given to cancelling the broadcast? It wasn't his ballpark. Perhaps have a moment of silence, and maybe later in the season do something nice for his survivors, but you have 40,000 people coming, the sun more or less shining, people taking out of their day and employees all over the place, getting paid. There's no way. Even in Philly, they should not. The show must go on.

Posted by: ggreenbaum | April 13, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Baseball lost one of its finest today. Condolences go out to the Kalas family and the Phillies family. We'll miss you dearly Harry. Please say hi to Whitey for us.

I have countless memories of Harry calling Phils games on lazy summer evenings or Sunday afternoons. I have an eight year old son and sadly regret that he and all eight year olds will not have this treasured opportunity.

Posted by: coolbeap | April 13, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

He truly had an unforgettable voice. And you don't cancel the game for a broadcaster. You might for a player...the game scheduled hours after Daryl Kile was dicovered in his hotel room was rescheduled. For me, sitting here in suburban Philly, a small heroic moment was turning on the Phillies' broadcast to listen to Scott Franzke and Larry Anderson do the first inning today, sporadically in tears, carrying on in that classic tradition...they could have let the station use the Nationals' feed but they chose not to do that. Franzke's opening was one of the most eloquent, heartfelt pieces you'll ever hear.

Posted by: frinkie1 | April 13, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

What sad news. I still can't believe it. Growing up in Philly and listening to the games, any of the memories are punctuated with, "Swing and a loooong drive! This one's OUTTA here! And the Phillies take the lead!"

Say hi to Whitey in heaven, Harry, and have fun calling games together forever now.

Posted by: mipost1 | April 13, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

In addition to being an excellent baseball broadcaster Harry was the second most famous voice of NFL Films (John Facenda will never be topped). Viewers who tuned in to NFL games heard his voice delivering the now-famous disclaimer: "This telecast is copyrighted by the NFL for the private use of our audience..." He will be sorely missed for his contributions to baseball, football and even commercials. Rest in peace...

Posted by: garnwalk | April 13, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse

ggreenbaum writes: Why would there be any consideration given to canceling the broadcast?... Even in Philly, they should not. The show must go on.

Obviously, you do not understand what Harry has meant to Phillies fans across the world, and (obviously) none of your teams have ever had a broadcaster like Harry. I agree that the game should have been played in DC, but had it been in Philly, most phans would have wanted it postponed. Washington Post please forgive me for attaching this link to another newspaper, but greenbaum needs to take a look at what he meant to the city of Philadelphia: http://www.philly.com/

Posted by: just34ice | April 13, 2009 6:36 PM | Report abuse

The world is always poorer when we're one class act shorter. But think of it this way: someday, many decades from now, some old fans will be reminiscing on whatever they use for blogs by then, about how they grew up listening to old Charlie Slowes and Dave Jaegler. Those will be the good old days, back when DC had a team again, for a while.

Posted by: CEvansJr | April 13, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

God bless you, Harry. It is so hard to imagine baseball without you. You will be missed.

Posted by: jimestw | April 13, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

I attended college in Philadelphia and though I was never a big Philly fan, I was a absolutely a Harry Kalas fan. I remember the first time I heard him call a game. It was the summer before freshman year and I had decided to move on to campus a few months early to explore my new home. The first few weeks were tough because I didn't know many people in the area, and it was easy to feel like a foreigner. One night I was eating dinner with the TV on when I heard an deep booming voice call out the pitch count. I turned to the TV to see the Phillies taking on the Mets, and came to realize that the man who had just captured my attention was none other than Kalas. I was hooked. When it came time to leave Philadelphia for graduate school, I purchased MLB TV just so I could listen in on his calls. Up until this day, Phillies games were the only baseball games that I would actually be as excited to watch/listen to at home as I would in person and that was all because of Kalas. He was the voice of Philadelphia sports, and he was the gold standard for all others; and he will be missed.

-DZ

Posted by: DanZambrano | April 13, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

After all these years of apart Richie finally gets to say it again... "It's hard to believe Harry."

Posted by: billm32 | April 13, 2009 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Harry Kalas was one of the best. Living in Philadelphia my whole life until moving to Virginia two years ago, I was spoiled to hear his voice narrate baseball games throughout my whole lifespan. He will be missed.

As a tribute to Harry, I hope that on the day of his funeral broadcasters throughout the game will honor him by calling home runs with a Kalas-like "it's outta here!" call. It would be a fitting tribute.

Another tribute would be to improve the quality of broadcast teams. Most teams have mediocre-to-lousy broadcasters, though the Nationals are blessed with a wonderful radio duo of Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler. If you watch on tv (which I rarely do), turn down the audio and tune into WFED 1500 AM. These guys are good, and are a tribute to Kalas and other quality broadcasters of all time . . .

Posted by: chrisduckworth | April 13, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse

We will remember Harry as always...and miss him very much..he is the true Phillies broadcaster...

To his family, believe in your faith and know that he is with God and reporting the games amongst the greats there...

Long live his memory

The Holveck Family
Pennsylvania

Posted by: syrianlover2 | April 13, 2009 10:32 PM | Report abuse

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