Since we learned of Harry Kalas' passing on Monday, we've seen dozens of tributes, from Phillies players dragging on a cigarette in the dugout to a specially designed t-shirt that will help charity.
My favorite remembrances, though, have come through the thousands of heartfelt words that people have printed in newspaper or on blogs. It's macabre, but I've always found that some of the best baseball writing comes in the wake of an announcer's death. I guess there's something about losing that main lifeline to your favorite team that brings out a fan's deepest emotions.
I've taken the time to compile excerpts from some of the best Kalas tributes I've read over the past 24 hours. If you like one, make sure to click through and read it all.
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Jason Weitzel, Beerleaguer: "Tone, tempo and economy of words only scratch the surface of a Hall of Fame career. His deepest connection was forged when memorable calls were scarce and there was nothing to sell but hope. "High Hopes" wasn't just a chorus reserved for magical moments; it was the undercurrent of every broadcast. Since the news of his passing, the outpouring of emotion underscores the notion that a game called by Harry transcended baseball. Reminders of family, childhood and home identify his power to take listeners to their safe haven. His words were clear and his message pure. Harry Kalas was the voice of order restored."
Dan Levy, On The DL: "Harry Kalas wasn't born in Philadelphia. He wasn't raised here. But he is as much a part of the fabric of this city than anyone. When you think of the list of all-time Phillies greats, before you get to Schmidt and Carlton and Roberts, to me you start with two names: Harry Kalas...and the Phillie Phanatic. Nearly all the positive memories I have of the Phillies as a kid revolve around either the Phanatic or Harry." (Listen to Dan's tribute podcast to Harry here.)
Bill Conlin, Philadelphia Daily News: "I am certain that Rich Ashburn was lining up a putt on the 18th green of some perfect golf course, muttering over the cruel injustices of the only game to ever beat him when his best friend materialized, still wearing the windbreaker the broadcast crew was issued for raw, windy days ... Two imperfect men, so perfect together for 26 years. Two Hall of Famers. One a brilliant athlete ravaged by diabetes. The other a brilliant oral poet ravaged by the two Surgeon General warnings he chose to ignore. Both socially scarred by the heavy imposition of taking on a ... baseball team as a surrogate wife."
Tim Malcolm, Phillies Nation: "My mother's and father's were the first two voices I heard after I was born. Now I'm not sure, but I would bet the third was the voice of Harry Kalas. It was a stunning voice. His rich, regal baritone felt like the wind shaving across a midwestern field. He was an Illinois boy, honing his craft in the fields of Iowa - closely neighboring the fields where Richie Ashburn rooted. He moved to Hawaii, then to Houston, then to Philadelphia. Despite his youth, he carried that majestic voice, deep and hearty, assured and personable. It honestly felt like baseball."
Bryan Zane, Bucs Dugout: "I can't begin to explain how honest and incredible a broadcaster Kalas was. He loved the Phils, much like Myron Cope loved the Steelers, and just like Cope, Kalas always had a way of explaining situations without having to say things out loud. I remember a game just after I turned 21 (I know this because I was at a bar when it happened.) The Phils were leading the Florida Marlins 6-4 in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Marlins had runners on second and third with two outs. The Phils intentionally walked a batter to load the bases to get to Preston Wilson, who was batting clean-up. All the people at the bar were up in arms at the decicion. I heard 'What idiot would walk a guy to load the bases for the clean-up hitter!?!' (Philly fans are idiots, by the way) Harry Kalas' call was perfect and calm. 'The Phils are gonna load the bases here in the ninth and face the free-swinging Preston Wilson.' So little said, yet so much said at the same time. Preston Wilson struck out and the game was over."
Rich Hofmann, Philadelphia Daily News: "Sports are the last great societal connector today — and a major league baseball announcer, every night for 6 months, has both an opportunity and a responsibility that almost no one else possesses. If you were Harry Kalas, you were the public face of a franchise for nearly 4 decades, but it is more than that. In a city like Philadelphia, to be truly successful, you need to be that face and also a mirror onto the fan base. You need to be emotionally invested and intellectually honest; talk about tightropes. As former Phillies catcher Bob Boone, now a Nationals executive, said yesterday, 'Even though he would call a spade a spade, it was never offensive. You knew his team was the Phillies. He was a Philly guy.'"
Matt P., The 700 Level: "I listened as a child with my grandfathers with their radios out on the porch in the summer, and did the same for years with my father, brother, and my friends for my whole life until this date. No one called a game like Harry, and no broadcast experience will be the same without him. As sad as we all are today, let's take some solace in the fact that Harry got to witness — and call as only he could — the Phillies 2008 World Series win. We love you, Harry. You'll always be with us."