On August 16th, 2011, the Phillies unveiled the Harry Kalas Memorial Statue, a project that originated just days after Harry’s death on April 13th, 2009. Some two years later, the dream of a permanent monument for Harry the K became a reality. Here is the article I posted recounting that night, and Harry’s place in team history, showing how deserving he is of such an honor.
Still Missed, Still Loved, Harry Gets Permanent Home in Ballpark
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
Contributions to any sports team are often measured numerically. The ones that are remembered the most are the ones that did the most. So, factor in these numbers: 38 seasons, thousands of games, 8 division titles, 4 pennants, 2 World Series championship teams, and more, including opening and closing a ballpark. In that case, Harry Kalas has all the numbers, without stepping foot onto the field.
Kalas’ time with the Phillies started simply enough. With Veterans Stadium ushering in a new era of baseball in Philly, Harry Kalas was simply the new voice. Slowly, but surely, that voice won our hearts. Perhaps it was the emotion of his voice, especially in the early years. One that comes to mind us Black Friday, as you hear the near thrill of a pennant win drained in his voice.
Harry is always remembered more for those moments of excitement. He opened the Vet as an unknown, but brought tons of enthusiasm. And when it came time to make a special call, Harry was right in the middle of it. Harry’s dream call came just a few short months before his untimely death. There are still many players who won’t stop playing, because the lifelong dream is to win a World Series. The reason 2008 is so special is because it was Harry’s first Series win behind the mic live. In 1980, National broadcasts prevented local announcers from calling World Series games. Harry watched the Phillies win their first World Championship that season, but was not making the call as Tug McGraw struck out Willie Wilson. The rule was changed the very next season, and is the reason we got to hear that golden voice serenade us with the most triumphant version of ‘High Hopes’ most of us had ever heard.
Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images
Yesterday’s game featured a slightly overdue unveiling of the Harry Kalas Memorial Statue. Forever, behind section 141 of Citizens Bank Park, neighbor to Harry the K’s, Harry is immortalized.
Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images
Everyone has their favorite Harry moment. It certainly made the opening of last night’s Phillies broadcast touching. It really is hard to believe we are on our third season of Phillies baseball without HK. Still, there’s nothing like the sound of ‘High Hopes’ after a win or. A loud, hearty ‘Outta here!’ ringing over the PA system after every Phillies’ home run. Harry’s still with us in
spirit, for every game. But, with this statue, a permanent reminder of what Harry meant to the Phillies and the city of Philadelphia, as lifelike as it is, it appears, even if for a second, that Harry’s still here in person. And that’s enough for everyone.
I posted this article after the developments for a statue in honor of Harry the K became a reality. It was a preview to what would become a permanent monument for the legendary Phillies broadcaster.
High Hopes for a Harry Tribute
The Phillies have already paid tribute to Harry Kalas several times last year. Each home run is followed by Harry’s signature call over the PA system. The HK patch and HK sign on the left field wall were ever-present reminders. A video of Harry singing High Hopes played after every Phillies win. Now, the Phillies and the entire city of Philadelphia have a bigger tribute in mind. It started as a simple petition on facebook, a statue in honor of the legendary braodcaster. Then came a website and foundation, Dear Harry, Inc. Now, the dream may become a reality. Sculptor Lawrence Nowlan has already created a clay version of the statue, and if funds are raised, will then make a bronzed version that will appear in Citizens Bank Park. The total donations needed for the project is $80,000. So far, the project has made around $25,000 toward the goal. Donating is easier than it seems too. Dear Harry, Inc. has set up a texting donation service. By texting “Harry” to the number 20222, $10 is automatically donated to the fund. Phillies senior vice president for ballpark operations Mike Stiles says the Phillies have been interested in this project since day 1. “We have been made aware of the Harry Kalas memorial statue project, we look forward to seeing the final product, and we’re certainly willing to consider accepting it for placement at the ballpark.” Nowlan credits Phillies fans for sparking the project idea, and thinks they should receive national recognition. ”This should be a national story, of how Philadelphia fans, continually berated for their outlandish behavior, have done something no other fans anywhere have ever done, and that’s memorialize one of their own in bronze and gift it to their professional organization. As far as I know it’s unprecedented. This is the definition of grassroots, simply for the love and gratitude of having a guy like Harry Kalas fill our heads with wonderful baseball speak.”
Phillies Network is promoting that you consider donating to this fund. The Phillies are hoping to honor Harry Kalas in this way as a permanent reminder that is visible, tangible, and can bring many stories of Harry memories. You can text “Harry” to 20222 to donate, or make a donation through PayPal. Donations through the mail can be sent to Dear Harry Incorporated. The website hopes to have an unveiling at the 2011 home opener.