Friday, April 17, 2009

A Farewell To The Voice Of God


Legendary Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas, who passed away Monday at the age of 73. (Photo courtesy of MLB.com)

It's been a rough week in the sports world. Less than 24 hours removed from the retirement of John Madden and just a few days after the tragic death of former Tigers pitcher Mark Fidrych, sports fans are still recovering from yet another hard blow that took place Monday afternoon, as a legendary announcer known to his fans as the "Voice of God" took on a higher position as a play-by-play announcer for the Lord.

While preparing for a game Monday night, iconic Phillies play-by-play man Harry Kalas fatally collapsed before the Phillies took the field against the Washington Nationals. He was 73. Said Phillies president David Montgomery when addressing the media about Kalas' passing, "We have lost our voice today. He has loved our game and made just a tremendous contribution to our sport and certainly to our organization." Such a contribution was felt for 37 years, as Kalas assumed the play-by-play duties in the City of Brotherly Love in 1971 after serving as the voice of the Houston Astros for the previous six years. Kalas also called games for the Philadelphia Eagles and Westwood One, not to mention his work on NFL Films voiceovers and the recent Campbell's Chunky Soup commercials starring, among others, Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb.

Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, one of the greatest players in Phillies history, mourned the broadcaster by recalling how Kalas would refer to him as Michael Jack Schmidt. "He gave me my name, my sports name," said Schmidt. "Every time I hear it, his smile will resonate." Schmidt also praised Kalas by saying he would eventually "go down as one of the top two or three to ever grace a microphone." For someone perceived in broadcasting circles as one of the lords of his profession, such a divine honor would be only too appropriate.

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