Monday, April 13, 2009
Chuck the Writer mourns the loss of Harry Kalas
So I'm reading one of my favorite weblogs, Can't Stop the Bleeding, and I came across a post that saddened me. Harry Kalas, the stentorian radio voice of the Philadelphia Phillies, passed away at the age of 73.
I was never a Phillies fan per se, but I appreciated Kalas' clear, slow dictation and concise descriptions of the action on the field. Sometimes I wished that there could have been a trade that sent Kalas to the Yankees in exchange for John Sterling, Suzyn Waldman and a crate of potato chips, but I digress.
It was Kalas, in fact, who inspired me during the 2007-08 CBA basketball season. At the time, the Albany Patroons were about to start their third game of the regular season, and all of a sudden someone noticed that the people who normally staff the scoring table had not shown up (there were some issues regarding who was getting paid or how much or whatnot). Instantly the Pats' GM at the time scrambled to staff the table, or else the Patroons would have to forfeit the contest.
At that moment, I stepped to the plate - er - to the microphone, and became, for a while, the team's public address announcer. Mind you, I had some prior radio and broadcast experience, so there was no problem with me taking the mic in that situation. However, I should let you know that the Patroons' home building, the Washington Avenue Armory, has enough echo throughout the building that if you talk very fast into the microphone, the audience will only hear your voice - and not the words. That's me in the center of the broadcast table, in the photo to the left.
So I did the PA announcing in the style of Harry Kalas - slow and deliberate, making sure every player's name on both teams' rosters were pronounced correctly. I didn't drift into the Ray Clay Chicago Bulls territory, but I did get the crowd revved up for the game - even when Albany's local player, Lucious Jordan, drained a 3-pointer or two - after his third 3-pointer, I said that the shot came "all the way from Lark Street," the cross-street adjacent to the Armory.
I did about 12 games as the substitute PA announcer that season for the Patroons, until they eventually hired another announcer to take over the microphone (I would later act as his replacement when his schedule had conflicts). Honestly, it was fun, it was great, and If I didn't follow the dictation and eloqution style of Harry Kalas, I would have been punted out of the table in a heartbeat.
Anyways... Thanks so much, Harry Kalas, for being a true voice of baseball - and for being a true voice in broadcasting.