- The Washington Times - Monday, April 13, 2009

Longtime Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas died today after being found unconscious in the Nationals Park television booth prior to the team’s game against the Washington Nationals.

Kalas, 73, had been the Phillies’ main play-by-play announcer since 1971, and was awarded the Ford C. Frick Award by the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002. Kalas was also well-known as a narrator for NFL FIlms.

The cause of his death was not immediately known.

“We have lost our voice,” team president Dave Montgomery said.

Colleagues and friends were teary-eyed as they recalled the man who had become one of the most beloved figures in Philadelphia sports history. They recalled his signature home run call of “outta here!”, as well as his kindness out of the broadcast booth.

“He never turned down an autograph request, never turned down a photo with somebody, never turned down being somebody’s outgoing voice mail message,” Phillies radio broadcaster Scott Franzke said as he choked back tears. “We love this game. We make a good living at it. But we do it for the fans. The players can come and go, but outta here’ lasts forever.”

Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan H. “Bud” Selig issued a statement expressing sympathy to Kalas’ wife and three sons, calling him “one of the great voices of our generation.”

“Baseball fans have a special bond with their audience, and Harry represented the best of baseball not only to the fans of the Phillies, but to fans everywhere,” Selig said.

Colleagues said there was a general concern for Kalas’ health in recent months, but he did call every game for the Phillies this regular season. Kalas missed some time during Spring Training for a medical procedure that the team did not disclose. Last year, he missed several games to have surgery for a detached retina.

Phillies color analyst and former pitcher Larry Anderson said Kalas recently began sitting toward the front of the team plane, rather than in the back rows, as he had done for most of his career.

“It remember thinking, that’s not right,’” a tearful Anderson said. “It was almost like an omen. He was always in the back row in the corner. Things just weren’t right. He wasn’t feeling well, and you could tell. But it was Harry Kalas. Nothing was going to happen to him.”

Anderson said his favorite moment with Kalas came when he was a pitcher with the Phillies in 1993. After the team won the National League East, Kalas led the team in the singing of “High Hopes.”

“I don’t know if I ever want to hear that again,” he said.

One of Kalas’ last games was the final game of the 2008 World Series, the only World Series victory he called live. While the Phillies won the World Series in 1980, home broadcasters were not permitted to broadcast the game at the time.

• Tim Lemke can be reached at tlemke@washingtontimes.com.

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