From Bob Costas: "Obviously, he's going to be remembered as the successor to John Facenda, the voice of NFL Films and as so many of the greatest local announcers become, 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. Richie Ashburn passed away not too long ago, and now Harry Kalas and you'd have to be, and I'm not saying I would understand this fully, but I understand the idea of it from St. Louis or the voices I grew up listening to in New York, people in Philadelphia feel a personal sense of loss right now. This is a voice that took them from childhood into adulthood through passages in their life, things change a lot, but you continue to follow your club, the personnel of the club, turns over from generation to generation, Harry Kalas is always calling the game, so this is a civic loss when someone like that passes away.
"Obviously, Harry was a great announcer, he's even in the Hall of Fame because of that, but you couldn't convince someone from Philadelphia that there was anyone better to call a game than Harry Kalas. You couldn't convince someone in St. Louis that there was anyone better to call a game than Jack Buck or before that, Harry Caray, and that's the way it should be. If you live in Cincinnati, then Marty Brennaman is what baseball sounds like to you. And Ernie Harwell is what it sounded like in Detroit. That's part of the beauty of baseball broadcasting."
Jim Kaat: "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. Harry was a good friend. There were 16 of us that usually gathered in the wintertime and played golf for four days down in Florida and Harry regaled us with his 'Hail to the Redskins' time after time. So beyond just the broadcaster with the booming voice, it was a privilege to know him as a friend."
From NFL Films head Steve Sabol: "In the 46 years of NFL Films, we have worked with two of the greatest voiceover talents in television history. John Facenda was the 'Voice of God' and Harry Kalas was the 'Voice of the People.'
"His substance was his style. There was no shtick, just a steady blend of crisp articulation and resonance.
"In many ways, Harry is the narrator of our memories. His voice lives on not only on film, but inside the heads of everyone who has watched and listened to NFL Films."
# # #
Bill Ordine wrote a fine piece on Kalas at our Toy Department blog. I, too, lived near Philadelphia and recall when Kalas came to town. The typical exchange between him and Richie Ashburn that I remember usually went something like this:
Kalas (in that distinctive, drawn-out style, describing the Phillies trying to avoid giving up runs that could cost the game): "IN-field in, OUT-field in."
Ashburn: "Tough way to play baseball, Harry."