If there ever was an announcer who had a voice for the dramatic, it was Philadelphia Phillies announcer Harry Karas, who died Monday. Whenever you heard Kalas broadcast a game or narrate an NFL Film production, you knew it was Harry. His booming voice carried enormous clout. If you had to nominate someone to broadcast the end of the world or the rapture, it would be Harry. I just love him saying, “the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field” for some of those great Packers playoff games.
Many of his sportscasting colleagues remembered Kalas, who was 73, for his work ethic and his fun personality.
Chicago Cubs radio announcer Phil Hughes said Kalas had the greatest voice in sportscasting. During a rain delay in the Cubs game Monday, Hughes told a story of how Kalas fell in love with baseball. As a wide-eyed 10-year-old, Kalas said Washington Senators first baseman Mickey Vernon invited him into the Senators dugout during a rain delay and gave him an autographed baseball.
ESPN analyst John Kruk, a former Phillies star, talked of sharing a limousine with Kalas when they commuted from Philadelphia to New York to cover Phillies-Mets games. They would drink a couple of beers and swap baseball stories, said Kruk as his voice choked up. He said the best part of being injured as a Phillies player, “You got to listen to Harry.”
MLB Network broadcaster Jim Kaat, a former Phillies player: “We all liked to imitate Harry when I was with the Phillies and say ‘Michael Jack Schmidt.’ Harry was a great friend. We had 16 of us who usually gathered in the winter time to play golf for four days down in Florida, and Harry regaled with us with his ‘Hail to the Redskins’ time after time. Beyond a broadcaster with a booming voice, I was privileged to know him as a friend.”
Bob Costas, a sportscaster for MLB Network and NBC: “Obviously he’s going to be remembered as the successor to John Facenda, the voice of NFL Films. And as so many of the greatest local announcers become, he was more than just admired for his craft, he was a beloved institution in Philadelphia. I think this is generally true, in an era where players, even great players, come and go the real fixture in baseball is often the local radio voice.”