One year later, remembering Kalas
Colleagues share thoughts of Phillies' beloved broadcaster
PHILADELPHIA -- Harry Kalas made the final home run call of his life on April 12, 2009, when Matt Stairs hit a dramatic pinch-hit, game-winning homer off Rockies closer Huston Street at Coors Field.
Kalas died the following day in the broadcast booth at Nationals Park.
It has been one year since Kalas passed, and Phillies games have not been the same since.
Over the past few days, MLB.com asked Phillies broadcasters to share their lasting memory or favorite story about Kalas.
Larry Andersen: "There was a balk call with a guy on third, and it gave us the go-ahead run late in the game. Harry goes, 'You don't want to win a game on a call like that. It's not right.'
"I said, 'Well, it's a balk.'
"He said, 'That's not a balk. He didn't deceive the runner.'
"'But he didn't stop, and that's the rule. You have to stop.'
"He goes, 'I don't care. You can't win a game like that.'
"'I'll win a game however I want.'
"He said, 'Well, it's not a balk.'
"'It's a balk, Harry. A balk is a balk is a balk.'
"This went on for a while. People started coming to us going, 'A balk is a balk is a balk.' But he wasn't giving in, and I wasn't giving in.
"And any time there was a flight delay, we'd be sitting in the back of the plane. Now, this was when Harry would still have an adult beverage. We were going to Colorado, but there was a three-hour delay on the runway. He fell asleep about an hour into [the delay]. He woke up about a half-hour before we took off, looked over and said, 'It's pretty smooth so far.' We hadn't moved."
Scott Franzke: "It was the last Sunday of Spring Training . He hadn't been there because he had been sick, but he really wanted to be down there. We finished the game, and my wife and I were walking to the parking lot. There's Harry. He's on one side of the fence, and there are 200 people on the other side of the fence. He's just working the line, signing every hat, every ball. This is a guy who's not in great health, looks frail, but he won't say no to the fans. He just won't say no. That image is one that sticks with me. The sun is coming down, [it's a] beautiful Florida day, and there he is in his white shoes and white windbreaker signing autographs. It just made you appreciate him a little bit more. We all broadcast differently. We all have our own styles. But with a moment like that, he showed a pretty good way to treat fans, because that's why we do what we do."
Jim Jackson: "I remember being on the float with him during the [2008 World Series] parade, and just hearing the 'Harry! Harry!' chants ringing off the buildings. He was in awe of it. He wanted to look at every person. He kept going back and forth, from side to side of the float. It was great. It was a Harry love fest. Any time we slowed down, it was just, 'Harry! Harry!'
"One funny story is, I did a game with him in 2008. You're responsible when you're on the air for the other team's runs or the Phillies' runs. You take credit or you take the blame. Harry handed it off to me with a 3-1 lead against the Braves. [Cole] Hamels puts up a nine-spot. He didn't even get out of the inning. Then Harry comes back, and Greg Dobbs hits a pinch-hit grand slam to take the lead back, 10-9. I get back in the booth to take the next two innings, and he says, 'Do you think you can handle this?' "
Tom McCarthy: "Aside from the moment I called my first Phillies home run at the Vet and he smiled at me, nodded and gave me a thumbs-up, my greatest moment with Harry was the clincher in the World Series. I am kind of a broadcast junkie, and I was attempting to get to what I thought was the best spot in the ballpark to see the celebration. So I decided to nudge my way into the corner of the radio booth because I wanted to see his reaction, his emotions and hear his call with the live pictures in front of me. So I stood just to the right, facing the field, leaning against the wall. I could see how proud he was of the moment and how much it fulfilled him. Now when I watch how they have matched his voice with the radio call, I get chills. It is one of the lasting, most vibrant moments I have of him, and I am thankful for it."
Gary Matthews: "He taught me a lot. He taught me not to look at Ryan Howard's strikeouts as opposed to the damage that he's done. The numbers that he's put up are right up there with Babe Ruth and everyone else. In other words, Harry told me not to concentrate on the negatives -- concentrate more on positives, especially with a great player. And Ryan Howard was one of his favorites. He talked to me about those things. I don't know if he was putting me in line. He was more giving me his opinion, which I thought was great."
Chris Wheeler: "It's tough for me to try to do a synopsis of somebody you knew 40 years in just one story. My feeling [about] Harry was he was a friend. He was a mentor. We spent countless hours away from the ballpark, talking about the game, talking about life. But my favorite story is that I knew him before anybody else did, when I was in the Army in 1968 at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. I was a nutty baseball fan, but I couldn't listen to Phillies games there. So I listened to the Astros. And this guy used to come on in the fourth or fifth inning and do one inning and disappear. I remember thinking that he's really good. I knew his name was Harry Kalas from the three months I was there. When the Phillies hired him, I remember my first reaction was, 'Well, I know who he is, and he's going to be good.' "
The Philadelphia Broadcasters Foundation on Tuesday awarded Elkins Park's Josh Schrager the Kalas Award, a college scholarship given annually to a student with a desire to be a sports broadcaster.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.