Harold Norbert Kalas
(Harry the K)
Harry Kalas was a popular baseball broadcaster for the Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies. Born in Naperville, IL, Kalas became enthralled with baseball as a child after a chance meeting with Mickey Vernon. During a rain delay at Comiskey Park, Kalas was invited into the dugout by Vernon, who was playing for the Washington Senators.
During his time in the Army, he was stationed in Hawaii. In 1961, he called his first pro game for the Hawaii Islanders. After his enlistment had ended, he was hired by the Houston Astros. He worked with fellow Ford Frick Award winner Gene Elston and Loel Passe. With Houston, his signature home run call was "that ball is in Astro orbit."
Kalas moved on to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1971. In Philadelphia, he worked with Hall of Fame announcer By Saam and Hall of Fame outfielder Richie Ashburn. He replaced Bill Campbell, who has been honored by the Basketball Hall of Fame.
During his second season, Mike Schmidt was recalled by the Phillies. For the next 17 years, Kalas would call nearly all of Schmidt's games. His most famous call was Schmidt's game-winning, 500th home run in Pittsburgh in 1987.
For twenty seven seasons, Kalas worked with Richie "Whitey" Ashburn. Their banter became legendary in Philadelphia. They were two midwestern gentlemen who loved baseball. Upon Ashburn's sudden death during a series with the New York Mets in 1997, Kalas was visibly shaken. At his funeral, he eulogized his friend, who he called "His Whiteness." After the passing of Ashburn, Kalas was paired with Larry Andersen. In 2002, he received the Ford Frick Award. Six years later, he was able to fulfill the deal that he would call the final inning of any Phillies World Series championship.
Kalas was widely known outside of baseball for his work with NFL Films, NFL games for CBS radio, Notre Dame football broadcasts, commercials for Campbell's Soup, and voice-overs in movie trailers. Kalas's familiar home run call was "Watch that baby, out'ta heeeeere. Home... run... Michael... Jack... Schmidt." He claims to have come up with this while watching former Phillie Greg Luzinski take batting practice and overhearing former shorstop Larry Bowa say that a particular home run was "outta here."
Just one week after receiving his 2008 World Series ring, Kalas was found on the floor of the press box at Nationals Park. He was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. Much like his friend Richie Ashburn in 1997, he had called the Phillies game at the Colorado Rockies just the day before. The Phillies wore a black armband in his honor for the reaminder of the season, which saw them return to the World Series. A poster with his likeness was also erected next to the broadcast booth of Citizens Bank Park.
- Randy Miller: Harry the K: The Remarkable Life of Harry Kalas, Running Press, Philadelphia, PA, 2010.