Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The day I met Harry Kalas

The death of Harry Kalas is tough to take. All Phillies fans know what I mean, as do all the folks who listened to his national NFL radio broadcasts. I'm finding it very difficult to accept that he's gone and rather than attempt to eulogize him, I will simply share the story of the day I met the man face-to-face.

As a teenager in the late 1980s, I went with some friends to a Phillies-Mets game at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. It was this game, on July 25, 1988, when Kevin McReynolds and Darryl Strawberry hit back-to-back homers. One of my friends, Eric, and I stayed after the game to try to see some of the players leaving the stadium. Indeed, we watched the Mets file out of the stadium and onto their team bus. I mentioned this back on my 88 Topps Cards blog about when Howard Johnson nodded at me from the bus. After the bus took off, Eric and I were standing around and figured we'd head back to the car to go home. Just then, Harry Kalas came out of the stadium and we rushed over to him, asking for his autograph. He was exceptionally polite and asked if he could just go over to his car and put his things down first. I remember getting chills hearing his voice in person--easily one of the 5 most distinguishable American voices of our era. We followed him over to his Cadillac, he opened his door and put his bag down, and then proceeded to sign one autograph for Eric and one for me as well. We thanked him and said good night, and he got in his car and drove away.

I still have the baseball that Kalas signed for me. I always knew that he wouldn't call Phillies games forever but I never imagined that his time would end so quickly. He will be sorely missed.

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