Tuesday, April 14, 2009

When life intrudes.

Baseball is one of those things that is supposed to take us away from the drudgery of everyday life. That's true, except when some real-life event intrudes on the game and makes us think. Then, life and sports intersect and that's almost never good.
There was the earthquake that stopped the 1989 World Series and the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 that stopped the game for a few days - among others. Generally, it's the death of an icon or some tragedy. Good things make us appreciate the game while bad things make us feel as though the game isn't as important as it is on most days.
Regular readers know I'm a Phillies season ticket holder and a lover of baseball. This season, I paid for the MLB package from Comcast so that I could watch any game. If I'm not watching the Phillies I'll tune in the Orioles, but it's nice to be able to tune into any game.
When the news of Harry Kalas' death came to us yesterday, I started to think about all of the great play-by-play voices we've had in Philadelphia, and Harry is at the top of the list. Not only the top of the list here, but in baseball. What I have found, in addition to the games, is how average the other teams play-by-play guys are. The one exception I've found is stumbling across Vin Scully's voice on the Dodgers' broadcast. Otherwise, they're just guys talking about the game.
Harry was more than that. When he was partnered with Rich Ashburn, they were the Bob and Ray of baseball. Best friends watching the game together and it just happened to be going out over the air. Richie died in 1997, and for me, the games have never been the same. Harry carried on, but his partner was gone and they never found a replacement for the easy banter that he and Whitey shared.
Baseball is time-consuming, and having someone comfortable to listen to passes the time easier. They make a three-hour game seem like thirty minutes. That's what Harry did.
I suppose I don't have anything insightful or particularly fascinating to relay about Harry Kalas other than a little bit of Phillies baseball died yesterday too. Thankfully, he saw his best friend go into the Baseball Hall of Fame, got into the Hall of Fame himself and broadcast a Phillies World Series win. That's a pretty good life, I'd guess.
All of us are a little better off for being able to share it with Harry.


howard said...

A whole lifetime of (mostly) summer memories can be attached to Harry's vocal chords. I can't imagine how strange it will be to not hear him calling the games anymore.

Oddly, I was out of touch with the game yesterday, and I didn't even hear about Harry until around 7 in the evening. The reason for not hearing about it was that I became violently sick to my stomach in the middle of the afternoon. I'm sure there was nothing cosmic or psychic about my sudden illness, but when I heard the news later, it almost seemed possible.

Anthony said...

Just as oddly, I had the opportunity to listen to the radio at work on Monday (too long to explain).

I heard the announcement of Harry's passing on WIP and the uncomfortable broadcast of the game at 3 o'clock. Memorable, to say the least.