I am obsessed with voices. It’s an insecurity thing. When I was in radio the tone of my voice was often called into question. My station in Philadelphia considered electronically lowering the pitch when I moved to mornings so I’d sound like an adult.
I follow voices. I listen to commercials and promos and know who I am listening to. Oh–Randy Thomas, or Will Lyman, or Hal Douglas, or Rick Allison. I recognize their work.
We lost one of those voices yesterday when Harry Kalas collapsed in the Washington National’s press box and later died. Kalas was the voice of Notre Dame football, NFL Films, Campbell’s Chunky Soup and most importantly, the Phillies. He’d been called the games nearly 40 years.
His voice was deep and multi-tonal with the syrup of a southern accent, though he was from Naperville, Illinois. He did not have the precise pronunciation classically associated with the big v/o talent. He had excitement. His call was always in-the-game.
Baseball play-by-play must be a great job. Those who do it often do it long past the point others have retired. Kalas was 73.
I used to enjoy listening to the Phillies games as Harry Kalas and Richie Ashburn would chat-it-up. Often the Phil’s had less than a stellar team, but the conversations (sometimes only peripherally attached to baseball) that surounded the balls-and-strikes made it interesting and kept me involved.
Every baseball broadcaster seems to have a signature call. For Kalas it was, “Swing…and a long drive, watch this baby, outta here! Home run
Harry Kalas will be missed. I don’t like change.