One of the great voices of baseball — among other sports — was silenced Monday with the death of long-time Phillies’ announcer Harry Kalas. He collapsed in the broadcast booth prior to the Phillies’ game with the Nationals in Washington D.C. Kalas was 73.
Kalas won the highest honor in baseball broadcasting, the Ford C. Frick Award, in 2002. Mariners’ broadcaster Dave Niehaus last year won the same award, which is presented in Cooperstown, N.Y., during the Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The Frick Award has been given out since 1978, and there have been 33 winners, including the 2009 honoree, Tony Kubek.
“He was one of those very distinctive voices,” Niehaus said during the Mariners’ workout Monday. “I didn’t hear him that much on baseball, but I knew he was great. I heard him a lot during the winter on the NFL.
“Everybody who’s any good develops his own style. He had his own style. You knew when Harry Kalas was on, who it was. And he seemed like a heck of a nice guy. (Phillies’ color man) Larry Andersen, who’s from here, really enjoyed working with him. It’s a great loss for the Phillies and their fans.”
Being in different leagues and training in different states, Niehaus has had only a passing acquaintance with Kalas, but said he’s always been a fan.
“His voice was a signature voice. Like Vin Scully’s was a signature voice, Harry Caray’s was a signature voice, a signature call. Harry Kalas was in that group. Once you heard his voice, you knew who it was. He didn’t have to say his name.”
(Wow — I’ve been busy covering the Mariners’ workout and hadn’t heard until just this second that Mark Fidyrich died as well. I vividly remember the phenomenon that The Bird created in 1976. He was a true one-of-a-kind character, and his passing at age 54, along with that of Kalas, makes this a very sad day).