Reprinted from www.baseballhalloffame.org /
Harry Kalas, longtime announcer for the Philadelphia Phillies, was the 2002 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award.
A native of Naperville, Ill., Kalas graduated from the University of Iowa in 1959 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech, Radio, and Television. The affable broadcaster was drafted into the military on graduation day and spent the following two years in Hawaii with the U.S. Army. In 1961, he served as sports director of radio station KGU and also began broadcasting for the Pacific Coast League’s Hawaii Islanders as well as the University of Hawaii.
An original member of the Astros broadcast team in 1965, he called games for Houston until 1970. In 1971, he moved to the Phillies broadcast booth, where he shared the microphone with Hall of Fame outfielder Richie Ashburn for 26 seasons. Kalas was honored as Pennsylvania Sportscaster of the Year 18 times. He also broadcast Big Five basketball and Notre Dame football.
Kalas, revered for his uncanny ability to connect with his listeners, whether on radio or television, called more than 5,000 Phillies games. His passion for the game was unsurpassed, and his powerful, soothing voice was a summertime tradition throughout Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey.
On July 28, 2002, Harry Kalas made this speech at the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies in Cooperstown, New York.
It is reprinted from www.baseballhalloffame.org.
This is the ultimate honor in a game that I have loved since I was 10 years old thanks to Mickey Vernon. It’s very special to be inducted with the most acrobatic shortstop I ever saw play this beautiful game, Ozzie Smith, and the legendary Joe Falls from the Motor City. I now join my two partners with whom I worked when I first came to Philadelphia in 1971, By Saam and Richie Ashburn.
People ask me what it was like working with Richie. His Whiteness and I were together for 27 years, and it was such a joy. He not only brought to the booth baseball expertise, but also laughter. Whitey had a marvelous sense of humor. I remember doing games with him, and it would be getting late in the game, late in the evening, and Whitey would say on the air, “I wonder if the people at Celebres Pizza are listening tonight?” Well, within 15 minutes, bang, pizzas are delivered to the radio booth.
This went on for a little while, and pretty soon Phillies management called him in, and they said, “Richie, Celebres Pizza is not one of our sponsors. We can’t be giving them free plugs.” Now, we do do birthday and anniversary announcements on the air. So shortly after his meeting with the Philadelphia brass, it’s getting late again in the evening, and he’s getting hungry, he said. “Well, I have very special birthday wishes to send out tonight to the Celebres twins, plain and pepperoni.”
I want to thank the Phillies for their undying support for the last 32 years. Especially to Bill Giles, who brought me to Philadelphia in 1971, the best professional move I ever made. To the players, coaches and managers over the years, one of the many beauties of this game is no matter how long you’ve been in it, you learn more about it every year, every day. Every year I see things on the field that I’ve never seen before. A feel for the game was learned from so many men in uniform I could not possibly name them all. But you know who you are, and I love you.
To the members of the media who have been so supportive over the years — my colleagues, the beat writers and columnists, the radio/TV productions staff and crews across the USA. To the scouts and general managers over the years who have shared their baseball knowledge and experience in hundreds of press rooms across America.
The love of my life, my wife, Eileen. My sons Todd, Brad and Kane. My stepdaughter, Kiki, my stepson, Travis, my stepgrandson, Cole. My brother, Jim, and his wife, Mary, and my nieces and nephews. Families sacrifice when their man is a baseball man. For seven months a year, we spend more time with our team than we do with our families. I thank you for being so understanding and supportive.
We come here to Cooperstown to laud our baseball heroes each year. But all of us laud America’s heroes from all walks of life whose selflessness is on display daily. Those that lay their lives on the line for our safety, you are in our hearts. There are some loved ones in heaven looking down on us today. Mom, Dad, Celia, Byrum, Whitey, Ray Shore, Art Perkins, Mike Capredo, I thank you. And to the most passionate sports fans in America, the Philadelphia fans. I have written a brief poem to you beautiful fans.
This is to the Philadelphia fan.
To laud your passion as best I can.
Your loyalty is unsurpassed.
Be the Fightins in first or last.
We come to the park each day,
looking forward to another fray.
Because we know you’ll be there,
we know you really care.
You give the opposing pitcher fits
because as one loyalist shouts, everybody hits.
To be sure in Philly, there might be some boos.
Because you passionate fans, like the manager, hate to lose.
Your reaction to the action on the field that you impart,
spurs as broadcasters to call the game with enthusiasm and heart.
We feel your passion through and through.
Philadelphia fans, I love you.
And thank you all for sharing in a day that I will never forget. I love you. Thank you.