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Kalas, Phillies and NFL Films voice, dies
Updated 4/14/2009 4:50 PM ET
Harry Kalas, an iconic Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster and NFL Films narrator, died Monday after collapsing in the broadcast booth before the Phillies game in Washington. He was 73.

"We lost our voice today," team President David Montgomery said.

Kalas, who had surgery in February for an undisclosed ailment, had been a team announcer since 1971.

Known for his "Outta here!" home run call, he also had done NFL Films' voiceovers since 1975. NFL Films President Steve Sabol called Kalas "the narrator of our memories."

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A moment of silence was held before the game at Nationals Park, which was Washington's home opener and which the Phillies decided to play. "We know how our man would have voted," Montgomery said. "Harry would have wanted us to play."

But it was hard to take the field on such a somber day, outfielder Shane Victorino and pitcher Jamie Moyer said.

When Victorino homered in the Phillies' 9-8 victory against the Nationals, he pointed to the booth where Kalas would have been.

"It wasn't easy to play," Victorino said.

Moyer, who grew up in eastern Pennsylvania listening to Kalas, said: "Harry was legendary not just in Philadelphia, but across the country. When you think of NFL Films, whose voice do you think of? When you think of the Phillies, whose voice do you think of? It's sad."

"I just kept thinking about the special things he brought to me as an individual and to us as a team." Moyer said. "I have a lot of memories of Harry."

Ex-Phillies star Mike Schmidt, who got his "Michael Jack" nickname from Kalas' call of his 500th homer in 1987, said, "He'll go down as one of the top two or three ever to grace a microphone."

Kalas, the son of a Methodist minister, threw out the first pitch at the Phillies' opener. But ex-MLB star and former big-league announcer Jim Kaat was "not surprised" at his friend Kalas' death: "He was not in good health."

Kalas was discovered by the Phillies director of broadcasting about 12:30 p.m. and taken to a local hospital, Montgomery said.

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Kalas joined the Phillies in 1971. Before that, he was a member of the Houston Astros' broadcast team from 1965-70. In 2002, he received the Baseball Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick Award for his contributions to the game.

"Players come and go, but 'Outta here!' — that's forever," said Scott Franzke, a Phillies radio broadcaster.

"He passed away in the place he loved the most – the broadcast booth. I hope he's in a better place," siad Phillies pitcher Brett Myers.

Kalas lent his sonorous voice to everything from puppies to soup. He was the voice for Chunky Soup commercials and Animal Planet's annual tongue-in-cheek Super Bowl competitor, the Puppy Bowl.

Kalas joined the Phillies radio and TV broadcast team the year the club moved into its former home, Veterans Stadium, replacing fan favorite Bill Campbell.

"Everybody knew how good Harry was," said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. "I'm sure everyone in Philadelphia is sad. I loved listening to Harry. His voice was different that anyone else."

Commissioner Bud Selig also realized Kalas' impact.

"Major League Baseball has lost one of the great voices of our generation," Selig said in a statement. "Baseball announcers have a special bond with their audience, and Harry represented the best of baseball not only to the fans of the Phillies, but to fans everywhere."

The Naperville, Ill., native graduated from the University of Iowa in 1959 with a degree in speech, radio and television. He was drafted into the Army soon after he graduated.

In 1961, he became sports director at Hawaii radio station KGU and also broadcast games for the Hawaii Islanders of the Pacific Coast League and the University of Hawaii.

Montgomery said that the Phillies fans and Kalas had a strong passion for baseball: "That's why they had a strong bond with Harry. No one can match his passion."

A statement was issued by the family: "The Kalas family is overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and affection from all of Harry's fans and friends cross America. Especially the Phillies fans whom he loved as much as the game of baseball itself."

Contributing: Wire reports

Posted 4/13/2009 2:09 PM ET
Updated 4/14/2009 4:50 PM ET
Harry Kalas throws out the first pitch before the start of the MLB season opener between the Phillies and the Atlanta Braves on April 8 in Philadelphia.
By Tim Shaffer, Reuters
Harry Kalas throws out the first pitch before the start of the MLB season opener between the Phillies and the Atlanta Braves on April 8 in Philadelphia.

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