Phillies honor broadcaster Harry Kalas

April 17, 2009 9:15:09 PM PDT
Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Kalas was honored by the Philadelphia Phillies in a moving ceremony before Friday night's game against San Diego. Kalas died Monday in Washington after collapsing in the broadcast booth before a Phillies-Nationals game. He was 73.

After a video tribute, Kalas' three sons, Todd, Brad and Kane, threw ceremonial pitches to Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt, John Kruk and Jimmy Rollins.

Kane Kalas then sang the national anthem while Rollins held a pair of Kalas' customary white loafers and Chase Utley held Kalas' blue sportcoat.

"Harry Kalas, if you can look past Ben Franklin and William Penn, may have been the greatest person to grace Philadelphia in the history of the city," Schmidt said.

Citizens Bank Park was transformed into a shrine for Kalas, who joined the Phillies in 1971. A billboard with Kalas' initials around a microphone was placed on the wall in left-center field. Kalas' signature was displayed on the field behind first base and third base.

The television booth was named the Harry Kalas Broadcast Booth. A plaque with Kalas' picture was hung on the wall and it read, "That ball's outta here!"

A black drape hung in front of the Phillies radio and TV booths and the Phillies flag in Ashburn Alley was at half-mast. There was no announcer commentary during the first half-inning of the game televised by Comcast Network Philadelphia.

Outside, fans continued to place flowers, pictures and other memorials honoring Kalas at Schmidt's statue.

"I'm honored that fans would think of my statue as a place to honor Harry's life," Schmidt said.

During the seventh-inning stretch Friday night, the team planned to play a video of Kalas singing Frank Sinatra's "High Hopes." The Phillies are wearing a black, circular "HK" patch on the front of their jerseys the rest of the season, near the heart.

A public viewing will be held at the ballpark on Saturday from 8 a.m. until 12:45 p.m. at which fans can pass by Kalas' casket, to be located behind home plate. The fans will be directed to their seats before 1 p.m. to allow current and former players, broadcasters, team employees and friends and family to pay their final respects. An on-field tribute will begin at 1:30 p.m.

"I think it's going to be very emotional," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.

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