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Home » Baseball

RIP Kalas, Fidrych…and Wang’s ERA

Submitted by on April 14, 2009 – 10:39 AM21 Comments


Harry Kalas, legendary Phillies broadcaster, and Mark “The Bird” Fidrych both passed away yesterday.   Tough week for baseball, but seeing Nick Swisher on the mound brightened things a bit, at least on this end.

Remembrances/bullpen jokes in the comments; see you there.




  • attica says:

    MLBNetwork had an in-studio interview with Fidrych a few weeks ago. What a sunny, affable guy, who just seemed to have everything in its proper place. (And a wicked Worcester accent, which for some reason surprised me.) Gosh, this is sad.

    I will happily elect Nick Swisher governor of New York.

  • Cindy says:

    It was so hard, and yet touching, to hear the radio broadcasters (starting with Larry Andersen and Scott Franske) trying to actually announce yesterday’s game while grieving.

    If there is any kind of afterlife, at least Harry and Richie Ashburn are now together celebrating the World Series win.

  • Catherine says:

    I’m a Philly native. Harry Kalas’ voice is the prototype of what a radio baseball announcer’s voice should sound like to me – everyone else’s sounds a little bit wrong. I know I’m not explaining this well, but I hope you know what I mean.

    Harry Kalas’ voice is the sound of my childhood summers. I’m so glad the Phils won the WS before he died…and glad he died in the studio, doing what he loved. The sports world is the poorer for his loss. I will miss him.

  • Coleen says:

    It feels awful, like my grandparents have died all over again. I remember many a Saturday and Sunday afternoon going over to their house, and Kalas would be blasting in the living room for Grandpop and in the kitchen for Grandmom. It was a stereo of Kalas, and I’ll always associate his voice with them. I don’t know if I will ever be able to get used to listening to a Phils game without Harry announcing it.

  • Heather C. says:

    When I found out Harry Kalas died, I broke down and cried like I never had for a public figure. He was just always there, this onmipresent voice that I hear whenever I read the words Mike Schmidt or Terry Francona or even Von Hayes (not like I read that last one alot, but you know what I mean). I’m so glad he got the chance to call their World Series win in October. I know my whole family will miss him terribly.

  • Drew says:

    The Bird’s rookie season happened two years before I was born, and he had long since flamed out by the time I had any cognizable recognition of baseball, but my mom made sure I heard plenty of stories about him as I grew up. It’s a sad loss for the Tigers organization and baseball in general. They mentioned yesterday on Baseball Tonight that he was probably the most famous career 29-19 pitcher in baseball history, and it was for good reason. Fidrych was a reminder of something that is all too often forgotten, and that is that baseball is, first and foremost, a game.

    I knew Kalas’ voice more for his voiceover work for NFL Films than I did for his work with the Phils, but my deepest sympathies for Phillies fans. There’s something about losing a broadcaster who’s called games for so long for your team, to the point where his voice becomes an inherent part of your life’s soundtrack. Ernie Harwell stopped calling Tigers games almost 10 years ago, and I still miss him and wonder how he would have called a particular play almost every game I watch/listen to.

  • Kel says:

    I grew up in Philly and when my Dad called me yesterday to tell me of Harry’s passing, I immediately burst into tears. For me, he was the voice of summer, of Sunday afternoons at the Vet and of my entire childhood. Especially hearing him call “OUTTA THERE” for one Mr. Michael Jack Schmidt.

    He WAS Philadelphia Phillies baseball, whether we were in the basement or on top like last October. My sister’s ringtone is Harry calling the last out of the WS and I keep the mp3 on my desktop for easy access at all times.

    I doubt listening to a Phillies game will ever be the same.

  • BethH. says:

    He is the voice of summer in PA. (I can’t bring myself to say was yet.) He took so much joy in the game, and he was with the Phils in good and bad times. It won’t ever be the same, but how amazing that he left the legacy that he did.

  • bristlesage says:

    As an A’s fan, let me tell you that I loved seeing Swish out there, too. Well, I just love Swish–we sat really close to the field his last year in Oakland and he had visitors sitting the row in front of us, old college coaches, I think. And between innings, he would just YAK with them. Fun to see.

    My heart goes out to Phillies fans and fans of the Bird (and I think almost all of us, even those who didn’t see him play, were that).

  • Kristen says:

    The Bird’s rookie season was the year we moved to Detroit. Even though Mark had a rather short professional career, he *was* Detroit baseball while he was here. He also was a bright spot during what was a tough stretch for the city of Detroit. The Japanese were just killing us in the auto
    market, gas prices were soaring, lots of layoffs, Detroit had just been named “Murder Capital USA”, but there was The Bird, pacing on the mound and talking to the ball.

    @Drew “Fidrych was a reminder of something that is all too often forgotten, and that is that baseball is, first and foremost, a game.”

    True dat.

  • Kris says:

    I’m old enough to remember when The Bird was the first thing people talked about when they talked baseball. He was a treat to follow, and seemed like a great guy, who dealt with his return to ordinary life with the same grace he dealt with the fame.

    There was a nice reminiscence from a Minneapolis writer in today’s MinnPost.

  • Jen M. says:

    @Catherine: you said just what I wanted to. Harry the K will be missed terribly.

  • RK says:

    We were never fanatical baseball people in our house, but there were many lazy Sunday afternoons where my dad would be crashed out on the sofa in front of a Phillies game, and it was always Harry with the call. Harry Kalas has been in the booth my entire life (I’m 38); I’ve never known any other voice of the Phillies. I’m not even a huge baseball fan and I’m incredibly sad over his passing! I think it’s the subconscious tie to my Dad, gone himself 15 years…and the knowledge that Harry went with his team on top, doing what he loved. RIP Harry Kalas, Philly will miss you.

  • Bo says:

    We moved to Philadelphia the same year Harry Kalas arrived. So for me, a baseball addict from way back, Harry is the only voice I’ve ever known as the lead play-by-play announcer.

    He’s the voice that carried my Alzheimer’s suffering mom’s memory back to the surface on summer evenings when dad would take her for a drive, the voice that cheered my best friend Bruce as his life slowly wound down in the summer of 1998, the voice that suffered with us in the many times of Phillies ineptitude and carried the joy of unexpected victory. The rich, smoky baritone; the perfectly crafted phrases; the odd moments of serendipitous turn of phrase; and the rhythmic manner that turned mere names into catch phrases enriched the lives of baseball fans here for 38 years. He’s irreplaceable. We will never forget.

  • Jado says:

    In my lifetime, Philadelphia has mostly had terrible Phillies teams sprinkled with some “good enough” teams and one or two “who knew they could be THIS good?” teams. We do have two world series championships, so I have to give the credit where credit is due, but we also have over 10,000 losses. On average, Phillies fans have had mediocre teams to root for.

    Up until yesterday, in my lifetime, we always had a top five broadcaster to make it seem not so bad. No matter how bad the Phillies were, Harry made it ok. And those few times when they were good (or good at the right time, like last year), he made it magical.

    For Phillies fans, we just lost our Babe Ruth of the broadcast booth. Games will never be the same.

    RIP, Harry. We love you.

  • Janelle says:

    I live in central PA but have family around Philly and Harry Kalas has been the voice of baseball for my whole life. I’m moving to Philly this fall to start grad school and I was really looking forward to going to some games, but I don’t feel like baseball can ever be the same for me. I listened to him call the end of the World Series and cried so hard last night.

    We’ll miss you, Harry!

  • Missicat says:

    I was at the Nats ballpark Monday afternoon watching the home opener. Only heard about Mr. Kalas’ death when someone texted me about it…They finally did announce it at the game. Very sad.

  • Josh says:

    It’s very sad about Mr. Kalas, who had one fo the legendary voices of this or any other game. We’re seeing the end of an era on baseball announcers, with a run of guys who were the voice of their team for multiple generations fading off the scene and going to that big announcing booth in the sky. (Jack Buck, Herb Carneal, Harry Caray, Mel Allen, now Kalas…Harwell retired…)

    Thank god we still have Vin Scully.

  • Bo says:

    But even Vin doesn’t do road games any more.

  • FloridaErin says:

    MLB Network had a great highlight piece about Fidrych on one of their “9” series’. I’m too young to have followed him at the time, but this Detroit fan’s heart goes out to his family and friends.

    Off topic slight, the MLB Network is crack for those of us just starting to get truly serious about the game.

  • Jessica says:

    As someone sloooowly getting used to Jim Superbland doing the play-by-play and Don Sutton taking over the Verizon Wireless commercials now that Skip Caray is gone, my sympathies are with you, Phillies fans.

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