Phillies radio play-by-play man Scott Franzke may have said it best: “Players come and go, but ‘outta here’ is forever.”
Indeed, baseball fans lost a good one today when Harry Kalas, the main voice of Phillies broadcasts since 1971, passed away today when preparing for the team’s game against the Nationals here in D.C.
Kalas was found unconscious in the broadcast booth at about 12:30 today and rushed to George Washington University Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead less than an hour later. A cause of death has not been determined.
The 73-year-old broadcaster was beloved in Philadelphia and was honored with the Ford C. Frick Award by the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002. His signature home run call “that ball is outta here!” is the stuff of legend.
There was a moment of silence for Kalas just before the first pitch today. But the game will go on, though Phillies broadcasters acknowledged it would be a difficult day.
“I love you Harry,” Franzke said as he choked back tears on the air. Phillies radio station WPHT replayed Kalas’ broadcast of the last few outs of the Phillies’ 2008 World Series win just before the game started.
“It’s hard to understand guys being able to play the game today,” color analyst and former Phillies pitcher Larry Andersen said. “A lot of guys who have been around Harry for a number of years have got to be playing with a heavy heart.”
This is a tough day for me personally, as I have listened to Kalas every year of my life, beginning as a kid growing up in the Philadelphia area. He is simply irreplacable.
Click here for audio of Kalas’ call of the World Series’ final outs.
UPDATE: 7:31 p.m. Just finished writing my story for the print edition of tomorrow’s paper. There is so much more I wanted to write. It is impossible to convey what Harry Kalas meant to Phillies fans. As I walked the concourse at Nationals Park looking for Phillies fans to interview, several of them politely declined, saying that they wouldn’t be able to talk about it without getting emotional.
Perhaps I will leave it to Bill Lyon, the best sports columnist I ever read, to talk about Harry. Read his column here.