Top Moment No. 6: The Day That Harry Died – Phillies Nation
Harry Kalas Tribute

Top Moment No. 6: The Day That Harry Died

Top Moment #6: Harry Kalas Passes Away in the Broadcast Booth in Washington isn’t a top moment because of a particular play in the field or a tremendous home run hit, but because of the passing of a legendary figure.  If we voted on Worst Moments in Phillies History, this would certainly be at, or near, the top.  It makes this list because of the magnitude of such a loss; one that had a lasting impact on the 2009 season.  It isn’t a particularly joyous occasion, but it deserves its spot here as this list tries to tell the story of the past year.

Harry Norbert Kalas was born a broadcaster.  His soothing delivery became epic upon excitement; it was something you waited for and when it happened, it made the play that much more special.  Whether it was a “long drive, deep center field” or a “great diving stop”, or even the occasional “6-4-3 twin-killing”, Harry Kalas allowed for the game of baseball to be thoroughly enjoyed. It mattered not that you were five or 95 years of age; he connected generations with that smooth baritone voice.  There isn’t a Phils fan on Earth that hasn’t shared a drink with Harry Kalas, either through the transistor, or more recently, the flat screen. There isn’t a Phillies fan on Earth that didn’t shed a tear on that somber spring afternoon.

On April 13, 2009, as HK prepared for another day at the park, his big heart gave way, and he was called up to the stadium in the sky.  The Phillies would still play that day against the Nationals, pulling out a 9-8 victory with heavy hearts.  But the game meant very little other than a win for the standings. It meant nothing it all because the voice of the team for nearly four decades would no longer raise his voice in celebration as the Fightin’ Phils scraped and clawed their way to victory.

This is certainly a day no Phillies fan will ever forget.  Still, it’s good to know we can all take joy in the fact that HK finally got to call a World Series clincher.  He also died in the place where he’d made so many memories – the booth, getting ready to call another game.  I’m sure he’s busy right now hanging with Whitey, smoking stogies, taking pleasure in yet another baseball game.



  1. Jason

    January 17, 2010 at 9:03 am

    How can someone dying be a top moment?

  2. Chuck

    January 17, 2010 at 9:38 am


    Well put.

  3. Brian

    January 17, 2010 at 9:52 am

    In reply to Jason –

    It is tough to call his actual death a “top moment”. If it was worded differently – something to the effective of “the memory of Harry.”

    But as it’s titled, its the DAY Harry died. It made us all look back on the great moments we had and brought us together as fans. That day made everyone – even the bandwagons – come together as true Phils fans.

  4. Chuck

    January 17, 2010 at 9:56 am

    I think we we together as “true Phils fans” before that….October 2008 might be a good example..

  5. Stuart

    January 17, 2010 at 11:37 am

    I dont disagree. It is a day that we will never forget. It was a day that stood out this season. It is a way of honoring and remembering Harry.

  6. Greg V.

    January 17, 2010 at 11:49 am

    Top moments are not always good. There is no denying the significance this day had on the season and the histroy of the franchise. I recall I was working that afternoon and when I saw it announced on TV, it brought the day down really low. Then when Larry Anderson got really emotional while being interviewed, I lost it. The voice of my childhood was silenced and the games really didn’t seem right for a while. The great baseball voices: Kalas, Scully, Ueker just don’t ger replaced. I recall even being angry after watching McCarthy get excited about another team’s clutch hit in a game and writing a letter demanding he be repalced. All in all, I actually thought McCarthy did a great job but Kalas was more than great. He was part of the team and he was the ultimate fan and he was able to broadcast the fans’ emotions better than anyone. I still get chills hearing “Swing and a miss, struck him out! The Philadelphia Phillies are the 2008 World Champions of baseball!”. Immortal words.

  7. Pat Gallen

    January 17, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    “It makes this list because of the magnitude of such a loss; one that had a lasting impact on the 2009 season. It isn’t a particularly joyous occasion, but it deserves its spot here as this list tries to tell the story of the past year.”

  8. Amanda Orr

    January 17, 2010 at 12:25 pm


    Pat did an excellent job of explaining why it was a top moment in the first paragraph. Also it’s “top”not “best” which isn’t always good.

  9. Dan S

    January 17, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    top moment?

  10. Dudley Monk

    January 17, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    Greg V — You’re description is so similar to the way I felt. Thank heavens we had Harry K as long as we did. I still miss him.

  11. James Kay

    January 17, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    Kalas called the first game at Veterans Stadium (April 10, 1971), the last game at Veterans Stadium (September 28, 2003), and the first game at Citizens Bank Park (April 12, 2004). He also called the first game at Houston’s Astrodome, on April 12, 1965. When he delivered a description it seemed like every player was worthy of praise and he never missed effectively conveying the importance of a crucial moment. He was a great straight man against the candor and often times cantankerous complaints offered by his long itme broadcast partner Whitey Ashburn. After almost 40 years of sterling service, he along with Whitey and By Saam (master of the non-sequitur) are deserving of immortalization as Philadelphia baseball broadcasters.

  12. Red

    January 17, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    This is not a “Moments that try to tell the story of the past year” list. This is a Top Moment list. I think this choice was in poor taste.

  13. Pat Gallen

    January 17, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    Red, hundreds of votes were cast for over 40 “top moments” and this came out at #6. We don’t look at it as us celebrating his dying, but celebrating his legacy and how much this moments meant to the season.

    “Top Moments” are not always positive, and such was the case with this one. Sorry you feel it was done in bad taste, but I hope you realize we would never intentionally do anything to harm the lasting impression Harry left here.

  14. JJFritz

    January 17, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    I can see where some of your views are coming from. This is a tough moment in the history of the Philadelphia Phillies, perhaps to some the worst. However, I have to agree with those who voted for it that it definitely was a top moment in the 2009 season. Agreed, we are not calling his death a top moment in the season — that would be completely and utterly disrespectful. I was at the game in Washington on April 13, 2009. I felt the atmosphere of the fans there, both Phillies AND Nationals fans. The respect shown from all in attendance that day, the way some of the Nationals fans spoke respectfully about HK, the moment of silence they had for him, did indeed make it a top moment this season. The Phils played with a huge, heavy heart, and won!!! Speaking as a sports fan, especially a Phillies fan, it was one of the most heart-wrenching announcements that I have ever heard. Phillies games will never be the same, but the legacy he did leave behind gave us not just one moment in history, but rather hundreds upon hundreds of memorable moments that we will NEVER forget!!!! So, was his death a top moment, no… But, the day he died is one of the biggest moments that this season saw. Not just from this Phan’s perspective, but from the perspective of millions of baseball fans around the world who knew who he was and what he meant to the game. Thanks HK for giving something to remember and hold on to.

  15. David

    January 18, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    I agree with those who defend this being a “top moment” of 2009. I guess “memorable moment” might be a more fitting title. Top moments do not need to necessarily be something good. It is reasons like that which make Hitler and Osama Bin Laden being named Time Magazine’s man of the year. It is about impact on society. Harry Kalas will forever be missed. Not only by us Phillies fans, but fans of sports all over the country. I think many would agree with me in saying that you will never forget where you were and how you heard that HK left us.

  16. badburn

    January 18, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    If you are a true Phillies fan (and most everyone on here is), think about how much time you have devoted to some not very good Phillies’ teams in July, August, and September over the years.

    Three (3 hrs.) hours times about an average of 150 games times thirty-plus (30+ yrs.) years. That is a lot of time to spend with someone.

    When I lived in Ohio for three years, I can’t even begin to explain the tin foil, hook the antenae of the AM radio up to the cable, contraptions that I concocted, then position the radio in contortions that were never envisioned by the radio’s manufacturer, just to pick up an in and out squelchy broadcast of a Phillies’ game on old WCAU.

    Part of the allegience was to the Phillies team, my love of baseball, but even more was to the dynamic duo that was Harry and Whitey, to hear their comradery, and share their joy of our nation’s favorite past time.

    With each of their deaths, a part of all of our lives passed with them.

    Special moments became even more special, i.e., the Matt Stairs game winning home run or the 2008 Champions of Baseball call.

    With their passing came the end of an era, and fortunately with Tom McCarthy and L.A., the beginning of what should be an excellent next chapter.

    In five (5) years from now, most of these “top” moments will not share the “memorability” of Harry’s passing.

    I fully agree it was not a “top” moment, but it was certainly historical and should probably be higher on the list, notwithstanding a fabulous 2009 campaign.

  17. Brian Sr. of CO

    January 20, 2010 at 4:33 am

    I agree I think it was poorly worded, but I understand the point which I believe Pat Gallen was trying to convey. I believe it might have been better received if it was labeled as The memory of Harry Kalas, or the Legend Harry Kalas. I think the point from other posters is we all want to forget HK’s death meaning, we wish it would NOT have happened, HOWEVER, NONE of us want to forget the memories we have all experienced from arguably one of the greatest if not the greatest baseball announcer to ever live. I know some of the other well known announcers like Vin Scully, but no one can ever replace Harry the K.

  18. Bob in Bucks

    January 20, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    My cell phone ring tone is Harry’s “Swing and a miss, struck him out! The Philadelphia Phillies are the 2008 World Champions of baseball!”.
    So every time my phone rings I smile – literally I smile.

    Not just for the Championship but also because it is Harry.

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