NEWTOWN SQUARE PA – A year ago this month – long before anyone had any inkling that the Philadelphia Phillies would be baseball’s World Champions in 2008 – the team’s veteran announcer, Harry Kalas, stood in line with the rest of a lunch-time crowd at the McDonald’s Restaurant on West Chester Pike.
One or two people stared in his direction. They thought they knew who he was, but they weren’t sure. Focused on Big Macs to come, few others paid attention.
Then Kalas approached the counter and ordered a value meal, in the same clear, resonant voice that boomed “Outta Here!” to accompany every home run hit by a Phillie since 1971.
There was silence, only a second long, as people on both sides of the counter placed the voice, and then placed the face that went with it. Restaurant employees smiled. The lunch crowd smiled. Those who earlier had been uncertain about Kalas’ identity shook their heads as if they’d known all along.
Curiously, though, no one spoke to him or bothered him in line. He paid his money, gathered up his bagged meal, and started walking toward the door. Only then did a man next to him prophetically blurt out, “Gonna be a good year, Harry.”
Kalas, still walking, turned toward the man. “Sure is,” he said, smiling, and left.
Harry Kalas died Monday afternoon (April 13, 2009) in Washington DC, where he had been scheduled to broadcast a game between the Phillies and the Washington Nationals. He was 73.
Screen capture photo of Harry Kalas from the Phillies’ website