Monday, April 13, 2009

Harry Kalas Leaves The Field

I grew up listening to baseball with my grandfathers.  First with my dad's dad, on the back porch of 3447 Mount Vernon Avenue, watching the tomatoes grow as he sipped a Genny Cream Ale and I drank Frank's orange soda from the can.  Then later, on summer vacations in Maine, my mom's dad was never far from the AM radio, listening for the Phils' game from back in Delco.

Those moments, thick with humidity and mosquitoes and languorous in their easiness, are among my most cherished memories.

Today the man who was voice of those memories passed away, silencing the old AM radio in my mind.  It seems to be a fitting end to my grandfathers' generation.

Harry Kalas was 73

He died doing what he loved, preparing for the Phils to take on the Washington Nationals on the Nats' home opener this afternoon.  The game will go on, but there will be long moments of awkward silence today and for days to come as we all struggle to fill in the blanks that Harry has filled for so many years.

My brother put it well today, noting that he feels as though he's lost a close relative.  I concur. 

I am very happy that last fall I turned off the TV sound and that my son and I listened to Harry call the 9th inning of the Phillies 2008 World Championship.  I told my son of Harry's death a few minutes ago and he took it in stride as only an 8 year old can.  He's outside playing ball now. 

I wish John could have heard Harry call the 1980 Mike Schmidt 11th inning home run in Montreal that clinched the trip to the post-season for the Phillies of my childhood. "Swing and a long drive to DEEEEPPPPP left-center field.  Outta here. Michael Jack Schmidt has done it!"  I was under the covers in my bed listening to the game, an ecstatic 10 year old.

This will have to do:

Thanks for the great memories Harry.  You will be missed, but always remembered.