Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Harry's Legacy - Reflections on the Passing of Harry Kalas (Part 3 - Conclusion)

From this Yahoo page - there is an entire slideshow of Harry Kalas photos on this page... Harry's gesture in this photo, was likely intended to remind fans of Brad Lidge's celebration of the World Series triumph on October 29, 2008...
Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas solicits applause after throwing the first pitch before the start of the MLB National League baseball game between the Phillies and the Atlanta Braves in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 8, 2009. Kalas, a veteran of decades behind the microphone who called more than 5,000 Phillies games since 1971, died on April 13, 2009. Picture taken April 8, 2009. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer (UNITED STATES SPORT BASEBALL OBITUARY)
To the Phillies faithful-

Here is Part 1 and
Part 2 of Reflections on the Passing of Harry Kalas...


Other chroniclers, better than myself, have discussed the fact that Harry was not permitted by MLB rules at the time, from calling the team's 1980 World Series victory.

One mainstay of the clips is the fact that in the Fox Sports broadcast of the World Series, after Game 5 ended, they went back as a courtesy and showed Harry's call of it on WPHT radio, 1210 AM. It was a powerful gesture that indicated how revered Harry was in Greater Philadelphia, but also how popular he was within sports in general, and the sports broadcasting community in particular. It demonstrated to those national viewers, many of whom were naturally unaware that Harry also did baseball - that the longtime (a quarter-of-a-century, in fact) voice of NFL Films "could do it all", as Dick Vitale might say...

The fact that Harry would get another chance to call a Phillies victory in the World Series, 28 years later, was a great story even at the time, several months ago. And the fact that he participated in the World Series ring ceremony, and then passed away several days later - it's one of those series of events which prove the eternal verity that truth is, indeed, more remarkable and astonishing than fiction.

The only unresolved detail to the story line, was the team's scheduled appearance - for today, in fact - to meet with President Barack Obama at the White House, which has now been, of course, deferred.

Harry, regrettably, didn't make it to the White House with the team. But he had the opportunity to call another World Series, and declare the Phillies - after nearly three decades - once more, "the world champions of baseball." And he had the chance to enjoy the off-season, and to see the team bestowed with its rings. And he thus received a second ring for himself, to match the one in 1980.

So in spite of missing the White House visit, Harry might have felt - had he known about it in advance - that he had by now fully shared in the magical experiences of 2008, felt the exhilaration, seen the celebrations that it sparked throughout the city and region, and among expatriate Phillies fans everywhere.

Those rings honor a man who was a great broadcaster - and a great human being. And - fortunately for us, and for succeeding generations of Phillies enthusiasts - Harry and his legacy will never be forgotten...

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