Harry Kalas died today, the day after leaving the Mile High City.
For those of you who don't know him, you probably know his voice. He was the announcer for the Phillies forever, and was also the voice behind those great NFL films, the ones that looked so great because they were shot on real film instead of video. They always seemed to show two rows of huge men with steam coming out of their snouts on some frozen turf. The voice just boomed out. I have a few of the choice ones on my iPhone that always make me smile when they come up in the random cue.
I got to meet Kalas, when Denver hosted the All Star game. I went with a pal to the Wynkoop back when Hickenlooper was still just a barkeep, before he went into politics.
Kalas was there on the patio with Hickenlooper, one of the world's biggest Phillies fans, and Hick was just soaking up every moment with this small, chain-smoking man. I didn't know who it was because when he was speaking in the group he just sounded like a regular guy. He was very slight, and was wearing a polyester suit. I figured maybe he was an uncle of Hickenlooper or something, the way he looked at Kalas with such reverence. Then I figured it couldn't be a relative because Hickenlooper must have been a foot or more taller than Kalas.
So I whispered to my buddy, trying to figure out who it was, and then learned it was Harry the K, the original "Outa Here!" guy. He had some amazing stories, very fun to listen to, but he was not at all boastful about any of it, he was just a very polite guy telling funny stories and then trying to deflect as much attention away from himself as he could.
And smoking non stop.
I wonder how much of his amazingly deep and powerful voice for such a small guy was actually just created by the damage of all that smoke.
Poor guy. Threw out the first pitch a week ago. Flies up to Denver because he's not the kind of guy who takes days off during the baseball season. Has some trouble breathing here but doesn't make a fuss. Goes with the team to the next stop and dies while writing out the lineup for that day's game.
This very well done story of his death doesn't specifically blame Denver, but it's hard not to make a connection when we've seen it so many times before here. You just need all the lung capacity you can get here.
You will be missed, Harry.