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Dan Levy
Sports Media Guru

Dan Levy

The host of On the DL with new episodes every weekday.

We Miss You Harry


When you grow up in an area like Philadelphia, and you grow up a baseball fan, well, there wasn't much to root for in the late 80's and 90's. There wasn't much that kept us tuning in to the broadcasts and telecasts. While those teams may have been some of the worst -- sure there were moments like the '93 team, but by and large the era from 1983-2003 was a rough time for Phils fans -- we knew our announcing crew was the best. Harry and Whitey were the best. Sure 'every' town says that about their famed announcers, but we knew it. Nobody could call a game like Harry Kalas, and nobody could analyze the game and get on the players who were underperforming (and boy there were a lot of them) like Richie Ashburn.

When Whitey died in 1997, it wasn't the same. It wasn't the same for us, and it sure wasn't the same for Harry. Everyone thought that when the Vet closed down in 2003, Harry would shut it down as well. But the Phillies offered him a one-year contract that became a series of contracts. Sure his best days were behind him, but he was the voice of our team. The voice of our city. The voice of our childhood. He deserved to go out on his own terms.

We thought Harry would stick around for one season to open the new ballpark. Harry The K's restaurant sits above the pavilion seats in left field as a tribute to the man. Adjacent to Ashburn Alley, the Phillies gave us what we always wanted, Harry right next to Whitey one more time.

After the 2004 season, again we thought that might be it, but Harry came back. For another year and another. And in 2007, after 15 years of waiting, he finally got to call another playoff-clinching out for The Fightin' Phils. We thought it couldn't get any better than that.

Until last year. Harry got to call his first World Series Championship. Many don't know that in 1980 national broadcast restrictions precluded local radio from broadcasting. Harry's call of the 1980 World Series was taped for the highlight videos. 2008 was the first time he got do to it live.

And just like the Phillies, Harry delivered when it mattered most.

The Phillies have had many great players in their long history. Lots of teams have great players. But to me, and I'll assume many others who grew up every spring and summer with the Fightin' Phils, there were two things that always made the Phillies stand out as the best: the Phillie Phanatic -- the best mascot in sports -- and Harry Kalas -- the best voice in baseball. And football. And the Puppy Bowl. And movie ads. And banquets. And even soup commercials.

A part of my family died yesterday. A part of all of our families. Anyone who grew up around Philadelphia. Anyone who is a fan of baseball.


Note: I know I didn't answer today's question. And actually, I think that Steve Sabol, at least in my lifetime, has always been the true voice of the NFL.

Yesterday, Sabol's comments on Kalas summed up his importance to the NFL community more better than anyone else:

"In the 46 years of NFL Films, we have worked with two of the greatest voiceover talents in television history. John Facenda was the 'Voice of God,' and Harry Kalas was the 'Voice of the People.' His substance was his style. There was no shtick, just a steady blend of crisp articulation and resonance.

"In many ways, Harry is the narrator of our memories. His voice lives on not only on film, but inside the heads of everyone who has watched and listened to NFL Films."

We miss you Harry.


(We did our show today in tribute to Harry. To read my co-host Nick Tarnowski's thoughts, with link to the show audio please click here. My thoughts -- in addition to the ones above -- can be read here. )

By Dan Levy  |  April 14, 2009; 8:47 AM ET  | Category:  Dan Levy , NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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