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Another Kalas behind the mic
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07/19/2002 7:09 pm ET 
Another Kalas behind the mic
Todd Kalas broadcasts for the Devil Rays
By Ken Mandel /

Becoming a broadcaster wasn't always a foregone conclusion for Todd Kalas, the oldest son of Phillies announcer Harry Kalas. Todd changed majors a few times at the University of Maryland before transferring to Syracuse University to pursue a career behind the microphone.

Playing it safe, Todd took marketing classes as a fallback.

Turns out he never had to conduct field research for a new type of sponge. Instead he absorbed all he could from his father and in class to make the most of his other degree in broadcast journalism.

"Had I chosen another profession, I don't think I would have enjoyed it as much or had the opportunity to meet as many good people," Todd said. "(Harry) was laid back about it. He was encouraged when I decided to get into broadcasting, but he didn't push me."

Had he been pushed, the 36-year-old Todd might have rebelled like a typical son.

"I think the way he handled it was perfect," said Todd, who works for the Devil Rays. "He said, 'Here's what I do. If you want to try I'll answer any questions.' "

"I was happy in the career he chose," said Harry, flashing a proud father's smile. "Why wouldn't I be?"

Todd is the only one of Harry's three children in broadcasting. Brad, 33, is chasing an acting career, while 13-year-old Kane is preoccupied with school.

After doing call-in shows and other ventures, Todd found his way to Louisville in 1991. During that year in the minor leagues, he decided to focus on baseball. He spent 1992-93 with the Mets and 1994-96 in Philadelphia.

With the Devil Rays he's responsible for the pregame show on television broadcasts and in-game reports. The team wanted him to fill in during the weekend of July 27, though he has somewhere important to be.

"I'll be in Cooperstown," said Todd, who missed the 1995 inductions of Mike Schmidt and Richie Ashburn because he was filling in for the Phillies. "It will be a thrill to see my dad go in on my first trip. That's something you can't beat."

Just like he took in growing up the son of a sports personality. He enjoyed summers at Veterans Stadium playing with other sons, such as Bret and Aaron Boone, Pete Rose Jr. and Ryan Luzinski. "We probably went to 40-50 home games a year (in the '70s)," said Todd, who spent Sundays in the booth. "It was a neat team to be around, the first successful stretch since the Whiz Kids. As kids we would play in the tunnel."

But what was it like hearing that voice sending them to their room or ordering Chinese takeout. Perhaps if dad wanted the chores done he would say, "Take that trash out of here!"

"He might have. It's weird," said Todd. Everybody always says how strange is it to hear your dad's voice on TV, but it was part of growing up. There were never years for me when he wasn't on. Even on the road we could hear him and watch him.

Todd's favorite Harry moment is shared with many fans -- watching his father's emotional call when the Phillies won the 1980 NL pennant.

"He and Tim McCarver shed tears," he said. "That's something you always remember. Here he is being moved to tears because of what happened on a baseball field. That was an indelible image."

Local broadcasters didn't announce the World Series so Harry didn't call a Phillies series game until 1983, when they lost to Baltimore. A decade later, he called Philadelphia's loss to Toronto.

Listening to Todd call an occasional Devil Rays game, the thing that jumps out is his lack of a home run call. And he won't say "Out of here." "I've gone out of my way to avoid it," Todd said. "That would be pretty bad. That would be plagiarism and nepotism and everything tied up into one.

Dad agreed, emphasizing the need to develop an individual style, something Todd feels lucky to be able to do.

"I feel privileged to be in this role and I'd never look at it as any less than it is, which is a charmed life," he said. "I never complain. We're at a ballpark with eight million who would love to be doing what we're doing. I'm not gonna start complaining because the game is going to extra innings."

And if he were inducting his father into the Hall of Fame and presenting him with the 2002 Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in broadcasting, Todd would know exactly what to say.

"It's great to be recognized as a Hall-of-Fame announcer, but I think dad would have been a first-ballot Hall-of-Fame person," Todd said. "He's as genuine as they come. It's great that he's being recognized for what he's done on the air but he's that much better as a person and that's something a lot of people have come to recognize."

For those who haven't, they will always know the voice.

"It's funny," said Todd. "(Some) people wouldn't know him if he walked down the street but they would know the voice if they heard it."

Ken Mandel covers the Phillies for and can be reached at This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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