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'Such A Great Man'

'Such A Great Man'
The pain in Von Hayes' voice was evident Monday afternoon as he stood on the top step of the home dugout in Clipper Magazine Stadium and talked about the sudden death of his longtime friend Harry Kalas.

"There's never going to be another Harry Kalas and, unfortunately, Philadelphia Baseball will never be the same," said Hayes, the Lancaster Barnstormers' manager who played for the Phillies from 1983-91. "Life goes on, but unfortunately we have to do it without Harry."

Hayes' shock and pain were felt by scores of Phillies fans Monday as word spread that Kalas, whose mellow baritone voice and signature "Outta here!" home-run call were synonymous with the Phillies for nearly 40 years, had died early Monday afternoon while preparing to call a game with the Washington Nationals.

Shortly after an article about Kalas' death was posted on, viewers started lamenting his loss in the site's public comment forum with statements like, "It's like a member of the family died," and "I am sitting in my office with tears in my eyes. RIP Harry."

"Everybody who knew Harry, who came in contact with him, appreciates what he meant for the game and the city of Philadelphia," said Barnstormers' bench coach Tom Herr, who played for the Phillies in 1989 and 1990 and for their National League East rival the St. Louis Cardinals from 1979 to 1988.

"It's a great loss for everybody and a real sense of sadness," Herr said.

Herr and Hayes were on the field at Clipper Magazine Stadium on Monday afternoon coaching the Barnstormers through some spring-training drills when they received word of Kalas' death.

"Harry was such a great man - a hall-of-fame announcer - just a good person," said Hayes. "It shocked me today. I didn't expect that at all."

Hayes said he and Kalas became good friends in Hayes' early years with the Phillies .

"I can remember when I was a young player. We lived in the same neighborhood and rode back from road trips together quite a bit - gave each other rides and stuff," he said.

"He's such a smart Baseball man and helped me through some tough times as a person."

One of Hayes' fondest memories of Kalas was the time Hayes took his phone-answering machine to the Phillies' former home at Veterans Stadium and Kalas recorded a few messages for him, using some of his signature calls.

"He said some things like, 'Sorry, Von is unable to answer the phone cause he's outta here,'" Hayes said, "or 'He's out for a long drive.'"

Though Herr was a Phillie for only two years, he and Kalas crossed paths many times each season when Herr played for the Cardinals.

"What struck me about Harry was, as much as he loved the Phillies , he was always very respectful and very fair to the opposing team as well," Herr said. "He was very appreciative of great players no matter what team they played for. That showed a real class that he displayed."

Gene Garber, a West Donegal Township farmer who pitched for 19 years in the major leagues, including a stint with the Phillies from 1974 to 1978, said Kalas earned the respect of players and fans alike through his straightforward broadcasting style.

"He didn't criticize players with his words or his tone," Garber said. "He just called the plays. When he made a call, you knew you could trust that call."

Broadcaster Dave Collins, the voice of the Lancaster Barnstormers since their first game in 2005, called Kalas "one of the giants" in the sports broadcasting industry.

"His voice was distinctive, and he had those signature calls," Collins said. "Those are two things that can get a fan base behind you."

What lifted Kalas head and shoulders above other broadcasters, Collins said, were his passion for the game and his personality.

"I think if you're a really good person and you truly love the game, that comes across to the fans," he said. "That's why Harry was an icon."

Former Lancaster mayor Art Morris said he arrived in the United States from England in 1960 and "became a Phillies fan the day I got off the boat."

For Morris, the death of Kalas is "the end of an era from an announcing standpoint."

"He was the person who brought you the game," Morris said. "You could turn the radio on, and you knew who was playing within a word or two."

All those interviewed for this article agreed that the Phillies face a daunting task in finding a replacement for Kalas.

"Imagine what it's like being (former Baltimore Oriole) Ryan Minor when he replaced Cal Ripken Jr.," Collins said. "You are immediately on the spot because you are different."

Minor replaced Ripken at third base on Sept. 20, 1998, when Ripken ended his Major League-record streak of playing in 2,632 consecutive games.

Whoever takes over Kalas' broadcasting duties, Hayes said, has enormous shoes to fill.

"He's the greatest voice in Baseball, to me," he said.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: April 14, 2009

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