It’s been three years since Phillies fans last heard the famous words “That ball's outta here.”
On April 13, 2009, the Phillies were scheduled to play the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. But the game suddenly took on a somber air for players, coaches and fans when they learned that Harry Kalas, the beloved voice of the Phillies, had collapsed in the broadcast booth prior to the game. He died a short time later at the age of 73.
Kalas spent nearly four decades sharing the Phillies greatest triumphs. And his voice is one that continues to reverberate in the minds of many fans and players.
Shortly after hearing of Kalas’ passing three years ago, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter described him this way to NBC10. "Hard-working, hard-driving, wonderful personality, great sense of humor and smile, but very, very focused on his main work at hand which was calling the games as he saw them."
The Phillies beat the Nationals, 9-8, on that day back in 2009. But there was no celebrating in the locker room; instead the players described their incredible loss.
During a post-game press conference, Chase Utley told reporters, "Harry meant so much to all of us. I had the opportunity to be around him for the past six years and every single day he had a smile on his face, he would always say hi, he was definitely a special person."
Shane Victorino and Ryan Howard made it clear as well that Kalas would never be forgotten. Three years later, their sentiments remain the same. Both players took to Twitter early Friday to pay tribute to Kalas:
An autopsy later showed it was heart disease that took Harry's life while he prepared to do what he loved on that early spring day three years ago. A fan-based campaign raised $80,000 and the team built a statue along the third base line at Citizens Bank park to pay tribute to Kalas and unveiled it August 16, 2011, and that statue remains one of the most visited parts of the stadium by fans. Many people also continue to flock to Kalas’ gravesite (which is adorned with seats from Veterans Stadium) at Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia (as seen on the right).
The Phillies host the Mets at Citizens Bank Park later this evening. There are no events currently planned, but Kalas will most certainly remain in the thoughts of many.