04/14/09 12:38 AM ET
Baseball world reflects on Harry Kalas
Comments on the loss of the legendary Phillies broadcaster
By / MLB.com
"I was saddened today to hear of the sudden passing of my longtime close friend Harry Kalas. I know I can speak for the Phillies when I say Harry Kalas was loved by everyone. All of us could relate to our daily confrontations with his smile, his charm, and his warmth. He spread his passion for people, and baseball, all over the country for almost 50 years. His voice will resonate in my mind the rest of my life. I will never be called 'Michael Jack' again without seeing his smile."
-Mike Schmidt, Hall of Fame Phillies third baseman
-Bud Selig, Major League Baseball Commissioner "I just loved the guy. He was somebody I admired as a young man growing up trying to get into the business. I was struck by his voice and how clear and strong it was. Then I realized beyond that, he was really a great announcer. He knew what he was talking about. He could build the drama in a game. ... It was a voice I never got tired of hearing. Every time I heard it, it sounded fresh and vibrant and good."
-Pat Hughes, Chicago Cubs broadcaster "Harry was a special friend of mine and my family for 44 years. Baseball broadcasters become an integral part of baseball fans' families. They are in the homes of fans every day for the entire season. No one will ever be able to match the joy Harry and Richie Ashburn brought to our fans for all those years. He had a great voice, understood and loved the game, and loved people."
-Bill Giles, Philadelphia Phillies chairman
"He died with his boots on, so to speak. I think if you had a choice and God gave you the option, you would take that option. He was certainly one of the game's great broadcasters. I know he was a very popular figure in Philadelphia. He's going to be missed."
-Ernie Harwell, 1981 Ford C. Frick Award winner
-Ed Wade, Houston Astros general manager "It's devastating. Harry Kalas IS the Phillies. The fans lost a friend and we [those who were fortunate enough to be able to spend time with him] lost more than that, we lost a family member."
-John Kruk, Three-time Phillies All-Star "The Phillies organization took pride in making sure everyone felt like they were part of a family. All of the years I spent with Harry seemed to take it a step further. Harry was considered a teammate. Relationships and circumstances were certainly different back in the day..we ate together, drank together, went on vacations together. There is a bond and level of respect that will remain always. ... As our loved ones pass on, it truly amazes me the impact they have made on so many lives. Harry obviously impacted us on a global scale. I have only been to Cooperstown once in my life -- the day Harry was inducted. ... Today the streets of Philadelphia mourn but the gates of Heaven are rejoicing. 'For a wonderful man has fulfilled his obligation to society.' My heart and prayers go out to Eileen, Todd, Brad and Kane."
-Darren Daulton, Phillies catcher, 1983-97 "He was more than just admired for his craft, he was a beloved institution in Philadelphia. I think this is generally true, in an era where players, even great players, come and go the real fixture in baseball is often the local radio voice. That's the person that links generations to each other that people can say they grew up listening to."
-Bob Costas, Emmy Award-winning broadcaster, MLB Network "I first got to know Harry when I was managing Spokane in the Pacific Coast League. He had started his career in Hawaii in the same league. He loved the game of baseball back then. When I got to Philadelphia, I learned first-hand how much he loved the Phillies and their fans. He was a great human being with a great voice. He will be sorely missed by millions of fans."
-Danny Ozark, Former Phillies manager "He had a distinctive voice and style. He had great ethics, he was a terrific guy. He was very close to the ballclub. He had a lot of friends. ... And this is a big loss for all of us. He was very popular with the city of Philadelphia."
-Milo Hamilton, 1992 Ford C. Frick Award winner "We came up together. In my mind he WAS the Philadelphia Phillies. I've never heard a voice like his and I never will again. He was not only a great person, but a great friend."
-Greg Luzinski, Four-time Phillies All-Star "It's hard to keep myself from crying. When I got traded, He was the first guy to call me in the offseason. He told me it was an honor for him to work with me. ... The first time we came to Philadelphia that year, he came into the clubhouse to find me. That shows you want kind of man he was. He was always smiling, always there with open arms. He had stories you could spend weeks listening to non-stop. He was a legend and it's sad to hear he's gone. It's another reminder to take every day like it's your last because you never know what's around the next corner."
-Geoff Geary, Houston Astros reliever "I spent my whole baseball life listening to Harry. All the highlights ... he had such a distinctive voice. He was a fan favorite and a favorite of all the players, too. He will be missed."
-Greg Gross , Phillies outfielder, 1979-89 "There is a lot of emotion, a lot of Phillies moments when Harry was around. He is a legendary voice. I used to see him for a long time. Any time we played each other or any time I was in Philly, I've seen him and we chatted. He was part of that Phillies growing-up period in the 1970s."
-Bob Boone, Nationals assistant GM, former Phillies catcher "We all liked to imitate Harry when I was with the Phillies and say 'Michael Jack Schmidt' and you said the timber in his voice, but it was more than that. ... beyond just the broadcaster with the booming voice, it was a privilege to know him as a friend."
-Jim Kaat, Emmy Award-winning broadcaster, MLB Network "When you think of the greatest ambassadors of the game, Harry was certainly one of those guys. The passion he had while calling games ... was a real inspiration for young broadcasters, like myself. He was truly a treasure. He was a mentor and a friend. People will say that the game won't be the same without him and it won't."
-Chip Caray, Atlanta Braves broadcaster "Our first thoughts go out to the entire Kalas family, we love you all and always will. We loved Harry in so many ways. He was like a father to me and my brother John. He was my father's best friend in life. ... My four sisters loved him dearly. I can honestly say he was a true friend to us, the Phillies and to the entire Delaware Valley. He will be missed but never forgotten. He kept my dad's spirit busy, I can tell you that. I want everyone to know how much time and energy he gave to the Richie Ashburn Baseball Foundation. His love for my father was endless. He made sure we got what was needed to make the foundation a success, and for that we will always be in debt to Harry. ... He was a gracious and kind man. He cared for all the people that were close to him and it showed. ... The Phillies have lost the greatest broadcaster of all time, but we will have some of the most spectacular memories to replay for years to come. Harry, we love you, and all of Philadelphia loves you and always will."
-Richard Ashburn, on behalf of the entire Ashburn family "It was an honor to have Harry call ANY play I ever made. The fact that he called me 'Mitchy-poo' on air... I didn't want any one to know about that nickname, but somehow with Harry it was OK. He is probably one of two announcers that you didn't have to see to know who it was. He was the best!"
-Mitch Williams , Phillies closer, 1991-93 "I've known him for a long, long time and he was a real good friend of mine. He's one of the people that every time I went to Philadelphia, I'd look forward to seeing. Now, I'm going to miss that. And I know all the fans in Philadelphia and in Pennsylvania are going to miss that voice. It's probably not going to be the same. As recently as last year, he was the emcee when I went into the Phillies Wall of Fame. That was a real highlight for me. And last night on the flight, I was going through my camera and I saw all those moments again. It's going to stay there for a long time."
-Juan Samuel , Phillies second baseman, 1983-89 "I knew Harry well. I got a call from Gary Matthews today. He told me about it. He's one of the guys who was equally as good with baseball as he was with football. I enjoyed him on both. I enjoyed him as a person. He was always pleasant and the same character every time you saw him. It will be weird going to Philly and not see him. You always think about it. Death has no season. I will miss him."
- Dusty Baker, longtime MLB player and manager "What a sweetheart. A voice that is unmatched. I used to tease him all the time. I'd say, 'Harry, I feel like I hear you more in the winter than I do in the summer,' because he'd be on a commercial or a football game or radio. Everybody wanted him. But he was a gentleman. He would always stick his head down when we'd go to town to just say hello. Philadelphia can be a tough town, but I'm sure they'll really pour out some emotion for Harry. He's been there a long time."
- Terry Francona, Phillies manager, 1997-2000 "He's been the voice of the Phillies. We'd go on bus trips from Philly to New York and he'd be in the back of the bus, you know, having a beer with us and just talking baseball. I don't think anybody can replace Harry. He's a legend there. I'm still shocked. I can't believe it. The Phillies have lost quite a few people from their family in the last four or five years and this ranks right up there with one of the most devastating because of not only what he meant, not only to the Phillies, but to the people who have played there. I have to be honest with you, my fondest memory is he gave me credit for that 'Outta here." We happened to be standing by the cage his first year here, and I was playing and [Greg] Luzinski hit a ball and Harry was standing there, and I said, 'That ball's outta here,' and he goes, 'Yeah, that sounds pretty good. And til' the day he died, he kept saying, 'I want to thank you for that saying.' And I said, 'Harry, I just threw it out there.' I said, 'I never ever said that before.' But he just picked up on it. And I think the happiest I've seen him is when we won the World Series in 1980, then hearing him do the same thing last year, telling the city to celebrate -- brought back a lot of good memories. Harry's in a class by himself. The one thing, I guess, somebody said that they found him in the broadcast booth. If anything, it'd be fitting, he loved baseball so much, that he passed away on the field. That's what baseball meant to him. It was his life. And he gave you every ounce of his energy every night whether you were winning, whether you were losing. Always upbeat. We could be losing 10 games in a row and you'd go to the park and Harry goes, 'Tonight's the night. We win this one tonight.' Never negative stuff coming out his mouth, ever."
-Larry Bowa , Phillies shortstop, 1970-81; Phillies manager, 2001-04 "I used to sit in the back of the plane for the card games, near where he sat. It sounds so cliche, but with him, by far the most genuine guy I've probably ever met in this game. This is really sad. My eight years with him, I don't think I ever heard him say a bad thing about one person. That's the quality I definitely don't possess. How many people do you know that nobody says anything bad about?"
-Randy Wolf , Phillies pitcher, 1999-2006 "Very sad. I mean, the short time that I spent there in Philly, you know, he was just a legend. I remember sitting on the bus with him and the conversations, you just wanted to hear him talk. His voice was so legendary. Great, great guy. Just a great guy. A class act. He represented the Phillies for a lot of years. His voice was Philadelphia. It's very sad, very sad. You know someone and they pass away like that, it hits home a little bit. It's tough."
-Jim Thome, Phillies first baseman, 2003-05 "He's up there with Vin Scully as far as voices that you know exactly who you're listening to when you hear them. You know it's Harry Kalas. You know the cliched delivery that everyone impersonates and nobody does justice. He had such a wealth of knowledge, and he was the type of guy that didn't have a negative attitude toward sports or athletes. He called it as he saw it, and he had such a positive outlook on the things that face the team, the player and the game itself. It's definitely a loss that's going to be felt -- and not just as a broadcaster, but as a person. He's the voice of all those NFL Films of yesteryear and today. ... I wish him and his family all the best. He's iconic. It's scary that somebody's going to have to fill those shoes, and they're not going to be filled."
-Adam Eaton , Phillies pitcher, 2007-08 "It's hard to keep myself from crying. When I got traded, He was the first guy to call me in the offseason. He told me it was an honor for him to work with me. He said you always make your way back to where you want to be and that I should take advantage of this to see a different side of the baseball world. The first time we came to Philadelphia that year, he came into the clubhouse to find me. That shows you what kind of man he was. He was always smiling, always there with open arms. He had stories you could spend weeks listening to, non-stop. He was a legend and it's sad to hear he's gone. It's another reminder to take every day like it's your last because you never know what's around the next corner."
-Geoff Geary , Phillies pitcher, 2003-07 "Harry was definitely one of the all-time greats in our business and arguably had the very best voice. But he was far more than just a voice. He used a combination of personality, humor and tremendous warmth to entertain the audience and endear himself to them. You can't do that with just a big voice."
-Eric Nadel, longtime Texas Rangers broadcaster "Harry Kalas, I knew him for many, many years. He was a great man. I've known him as long as he's been announcing. I always saw him at ballparks and we always kidded with each other. I saw him at restaurants. Just a great guy. Classy individual."
-Don Zimmer, longtime MLB player and manager "It's another tragic loss. You still hear him so much on commercials, and all of those NFL shows. He had a great voice, and he was so knowledgeable. He's certainly one of the greats in the broadcasting annals. He was one of four [broadcasting] Hall of Famers who have been with us -- Gene [Elston], Milo [Hamilton], Bob Prince, and Harry."
-Tal Smith, Astros president "For Todd and his family, it's just an awful moment, and we send our sympathies and I can't wait to visit with Todd in person. He was definitely a part of the culture, not only in Major League Baseball, but sports in general and definitely in that part of the world [Pennsylvania]. I remember listening to him growing up. And I know that people back there are going to take it very hard."
-Joe Maddon, Rays manager "For people in broadcasting he was one of those guys with unmistakable pipes. Unfortunately, he went before his time."
-Drew Goodman, Colorado Rockies broadcaster "Harry was as good a colleague as any sportscaster could hope to have. He was easy to get along with and I certainly enjoyed my 26 years sharing the booth with Harry. ... Harry showed me the ropes like only he could. I am more than grateful and will miss him every day I am fortunate enough to remain on this earth."
-Andy Musser, Phillies broadcaster, 1976-2001 "For me, he was the voice that meant the Phillies. For me, baseball always brought you back to your youth. He spoke the language of your youth. Whether the Phillies were winning or losing you could hear the love of baseball and the love of the Phillies in Harry's voice. It is a very sad day."
-Jim Gardner, WPVI TV News Anchor "He is one of the all-time greats. It was like hearing the voice of God. People knew him as the voice of NFL Films, Chunky Soup commercials and some other commercials. When you heard that voice, it was recognizable."
-Charlie Slowes, Nationals broadcaster "He was one of my favorite people of all-time. We both loved to go to the dog track during Spring Training. Every day after the workout or game, we would sit by the pool and go over the track form for that night. If you didn't love Harry, something was wrong with you."
-Charlie Slowes, Phillies pitcher, 1976-83 "The greatest man I ever met, Harry Kalas. Kim and I named our youngest son after Harry: Andrew Kalas Wilson. What a pleasure to have been able to be around him for four years."
-Glenn Wilson, Phillies outfielder, 1984-87 "I grew up listening to him, not just as the voice of the Phillies, but the voice of NFL Films. I never met him, but I remember Schmidt's 500th home run and Harry saying, 'That ball is outta here!' It's definitely a sad day for Philadelphia."
-Mark DiFelice, Brewers pitcher, grew up in Philadelphia's northwest suburbs
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.