Disclaimer, I wrote this a looooooong time ago and thought I had posted it. Oddly just today, I found this still in my drafts folder...maybe that's a sign that I needed to post it today. Hoping it brings my Phillies better luck (and better BATS!) tonight.
On April 13, 2009, Harry Kalas died. And so did a big piece of my childhood. I watched it start fall away as I stood in a bar in DC; I worried and waited. His death was confirmed as I made my way to the stadium - he was here in DC to call the Nats home opener against the Phils. He was my personal voice of baseball that I had known growing up; I stood in silent disbelief watching as a stadium of people honored a moment of silence for someone who was a fundamental part of my childhood and beyond.
My family is a baseball family, plain and simple. My Dad played ball his whole life and got lucky enough to play in college (Go Temple Owls.) He went on to be a great high school baseball coach in the Philadelphia area for more than 20 years. My mom kept game for him his first years of coaching. His son grew up to follow in his footsteps and also play ball in college. My Dad has a love of the game that I know I won't ever completely understand. To see him talk about baseball is to see him literally light up. He could be sick as a dog or be having the worst day, but get him talking about ball and he is a new man. He instilled that love of the game in our family, and very much in me. My very first Halloween, I was just over a month old and I was dressed up as a Phillies player. Long before the days of "knowing what you were having" my dad had gone wishful shopping for the future kid's Halloween costume. While he may have been hoping for a boy, the costume fit and the Phillies stuck. Enough said.
My dad gave me baseball as my lasting gift and it's amazing to me right now to type that. Because it's not complacent --- he emails (and texts in his new-found technological advancements) me daily with his thoughts about the Phillies and about baseball and I laugh and I love it. Friends even ask me what my dad has been texting me lately or I will share I love that my dad can talk ball with me and forgive the fact that I hung my softball cleats up when I was in 8th grade. I love that no matter where life may take me, we will always have this common ground to connect on.
I remember my Dad waking me and taking me to go out into the street when the Phils won in 1980 (thank you for that Dad!!!) and I loved calling my Dad when it happened again in 2008. I actually emailed with my Dad that day of game 5 [take 2] asking his opinion on what shirt I should wear. He thought the green "Irish" phillies shirt from my brother was the best choice -- I took Dad's advice and the rest is history.
The sound of Harry's voice just makes my chest tighten up now that summers of listening to the Phillies on the radio will be different from what I grew up with, knew and loved. His voice...it was like you were visiting with an old friend, or having a beer with a guy at the neighborhood bar and a game just happened to be on. Wherever I was, I could hear just the sound of his voice and be back on the front step of my parent's house in PA with my dad listening to the game. The sound of his voice makes me think of water ice and fireflies. I think of being huddled into the hallway in the Fall of 1993 at a school dance, some kids were still in the cafeteria dancing but most were crowded around a TV set in hallway watching that mulleted team of 1993 light the city on fire and then let us down again. I'm glad Harry got to see another team rocket up and then take it all.
I love that on Halloween 2008, I played hooky from work with my friend, took the Amtrak up for the day and got to see first hand the happiness that was in Philly that day. I think I could have a fabulous life ahead of me and that will still be one of my happiest days of my life. That's what the Phillies mean to me.
Harry was, is, and always will be a part of the Phillies. And he meant more to me than I know what to write.