April 14, 2009

Swing and a long drive.

As about one thousand people have reiterated over the last 24 hours, Harry Kalas was baseball in Philadelphia.

However, for people around my age, he took on a deeper meaning. Baseball has always been a game for the patient, for those who don't need constant stimulation to enjoy a sporting event. It's relaxing and comforting, but also tense and sudden, and Harry Kalas understood how to translate those traits in full. For all those who hopped on the Phillies bandwagon in the late 2000s, he brought them a newly reliable voice - dulcet tones with an expertly refined baseball cadence that so many writers and friends have remarked upon since his passing. In a way, he gave us the gift of the game.

He knew when to start and when to stop, how to bring the game to his listeners rather than force it down their throats. Even at the end, when he became more of a symbol than anything else, this was a trait he never lost. He was a throwback to an era when television broadcasts relied on substance as much as style, and for this more than anything else, he will be missed.

In the months before Harry Kalas died, he was showered with praise for his call in the final game of the 2008 World Series. The voice of two generations of Phillies fans got the chance to announce the first Philadelphia championship in 25 years, and he couldn't have done it with more professionalism and class. Even without knowing that his time with us was limited, every fan in this city instinctively understood that he was the man for the job, uniquely qualified for such a privilege, and I like to think that he enjoyed making the call as much as we enjoyed hearing it - immensely.

He was a homer at times, but he was our homer, and I don't know a single person on Earth who would fault him for that. I teared up when thinking about his contributions to my life and the lives of Philadelphians yesterday, and I'm tearing up as I write this. Even though I never met the man, and now, sadly, never will, you could make the argument that no "stranger" has contributed more enjoyment to my life than Harry Kalas did.

Phillies baseball will never be the same, and in a way, neither will the lives of each and every Philadelphian, fan or athlete, who loved Harry Kalas. My condolences go out to the Kalas family, but as so many have noted, the man died preparing to do what he loved. We can all only dream of being so lucky.

1 comment:

Nancy said...

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