10/08/09 1:41 PM EST
Kalas remains a presence in Phils' house
Late Hall of Fame announcer sorely missed in playoff run
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
Above the second deck in left field is Harry the K's Broadcast Grill.
On the wall in left-center field near the 374-foot marker is the HK banner with the microphone and the years of his life: 1936-2009.
Even the Chrysler and Jeep advertisement hanging from the second deck in right says "Drive 'em OUTTA HERE," a reference to his signature home-run call.
The only one missing from this scene, bedecked in the grandeur of a third consecutive postseason, is Harry Kalas himself.
Kalas, the Phillies broadcasting legend and Hall of Famer who passed away after collapsing in the booth at Nationals Park in Washington on April 13, won't be physically around to enjoy this playoff ride, but for everyone who knew him and worked with him, he's still a huge presence.
"It's the same loss that we've felt all year, but you think about it a little more because you knew how much he loved this time of year," said Chris Wheeler, a 33-year veteran of the Phillies' broadcast team.
"I still look over at his desk and expect him to be doing matchups and lineups, and I still expect him to say something every once in a while. It doesn't feel any different. It's less shocking than it was in May or June when it was still so fresh, but it's still a huge loss."
Even though national network TBS is taking over the television broadcast of Game 2 of the National League Division Series against the Colorado Rockies, Kalas will still be remembered.
TBS broadcasters Joe Simpson and Brian Anderson will show Kalas' jacket and shoes that the Phillies have been placing in the dugout at home -- and in visiting clubhouses on the road -- every game since his passing.
They'll show the tributes to Kalas all over the ballpark and reminisce about the man who joined the Phillies in 1971 and finally got to call the last out of a World Series victory to a live audience when Brad Lidge struck out Eric Hinske as the Phillies had closed out the Tampa Bay Rays in five games last year.
"It's fitting that he finally got to do that, especially at home, where you could hear the crowd going nuts behind him," said Larry Andersen, the former Phillies reliever, who's finishing up his 12th year as a Phillies radio color analyst.
"And now we've been here three years in a row in October, and you just wonder, 'Could he have done it another time?' Who knows?"
Andersen's black suit jacket featured an "HK" pin above his heart, and he said it's been a morning ritual to attach it to the lapel and think about his friend and colleague.
"You remember everything about him," Andersen said. "His dry sense of humor. How much the fans loved him and how much he loved them. Little things, too. Like he called me 'Breakdown,' and I still have no idea why."
One thing Phillies TV play-by-play man Tom McCarthy can't shake is the fact that the broadcast team has, in effect, been playing without its skipper all year.
"Harry was in a lot of ways our leader," McCarthy said. "It's just been odd all year not hearing his voice, not just on those signature calls but just being around here, talking. But you're reminded of his presence all the time, all over the ballpark. He just pops into your head."
The Phillies won Game 1 of this series and might be well on their way to a World Series repeat. The broadcasters realize, solemnly, that if there is a final-out call, it won't be Kalas creating the magical words that will echo for generations of Phillies fans.
"He's irreplaceable," McCarthy said.
"You're talking about a man whose words were the soundtrack of this city."
Doug Miller is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.