Five years ago to the day, Harry Kalas was sitting in the broadcast booth at Nationals Park. He was preparing to announce that afternoon’s Philadelphia Phillies game versus the Washington Nationals when he passed out. Kalas was found around 12:30 p.m., shortly before the start of the game and was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
“We lost our voice today,” said David Montgomery, president of the Phillies. “He has loved our game and made just a tremendous contribution to our sport and certainly to our organization.”
In the weeks leading up to his passing, Kalas looked frail and sickly after having surgery. He suffered from atherosclerosis and hypertension.
Heart disease ultimately did him in but his voice will live on forever.
At the age of 73, Kalas died doing what he was born to do and what he loved doing most, being an integral part of the game of baseball.
There was an eerie symmetry in his death, as his love for baseball began at an early age when his father took him to Comiskey Park to see a Chicago White Sox game. He and his father sat behind the Washington Senators dugout that night.
Known for his famous “Outta here!” calls and for singing Frank Sinatra’s “High Hopes”, Kalas was in his 39th season with the Phillies. He made a name for himself with his distinct, throaty calls, his unassailable chemistry with the late Richie “Whitey” Ashburn, and for his work at NFL Films.
Five years later, the city of Philadelphia still feels the impact of his loss. He was a generational broadcasting talent and it is likely that the city will go years before ever finding even a remote equivalent.
Here, Kalas and former announcer, Chris Wheeler, can be seen calling the final out of the Phillies’ 2008 World Series victory.
If there is one bit of comfort that we can take from his loss, it is that he died with the team he loved going out on top as the World Series champions.
To paraphrase his own words, Harry Kalas, you were the man.