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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Regarding Harry

The Phillies are a family and it doesn’t matter if you are a popcorn vendor or a fixture like Vince, who handled dugout security, or Jimmy Rollins, the reigning MVP — you all might as well be wearing the uniform.
—Doug Glanville, New York Times, November 1, 2008

Doug Glanville’s loyalty and eloquence notwithstanding, there’s not much to like about the Phillies from a Met perspective. A few things to admire in terms of recent accomplishment and approach to the game, but you could have said the same thing about the Braves back in the day. And we couldn’t stand the Braves either. At least Atlanta had the decency to remain many hundreds of miles away — in Atlanta.

But there was one thing the Phillies had going for them that I out and out liked for many years, and that was the presence of Harry Kalas in their broadcast booth. Now and then if the Mets weren’t playing or if the Phillies were playing a game that impacted the Mets’ standing, I’d tune into staticky 1210 AM — WCAU before its call letters changed every five minutes — and listen to Harry and his colleagues bring me baseball from somewhere else. I felt like I was beating the system, tapping into a source that was outside my official jurisdiction. Phillies baseball, like any baseball that was essentially foreign to me, sounded very different from what I was used to. No Murph. No Kiner. No Thorne. No Cohen. It wasn’t better, it wasn’t necessarily worse. It was different. The radio is the great unequalizer. No two broadcast styles, if done well, sound alike.

Harry Kalas sounded substantial. When he passed away early this season, the word you heard was “baritone,” and as little as I know about vocal classification, that sounded right. It was rich, it was deep, it was Harry Kalas. It was familiar from the NFL and commercials (and later the adorable Puppy Bowl), but it was mostly baseball from somewhere else. That made it both exotic and assuring. Harry Kalas made it well done.

On a November evening in 1996, I talked several coworkers into joining me at the Museum of Television and Radio on 52nd Street for a seminar on baseball announcing. The main attraction for me was Gary Cohen, but the entire panel was a draw: Joe Castiglione from the Red Sox; Bob Wolff from the 1950s Senators, the 1970s Knicks and News 12 Long Island; Curt Smith the author/historian; John Sterling the blowhard; and Harry Kalas of Philadelphia. There was a lively discussion, there was a chance to pester Gary afterwards and then there was something of a bonus track.

I went to the men’s room, which on the auditorium level of MTR included a pay phone. I walked in and two men surrounded that phone: an attendee and a panelist — Harry Kalas. The attendee, all anxious, hands Harry the phone and tells him, “go ahead, go ahead!” Harry, who no doubt missed few producers’ cues, was on.

Hi, you’ve reached Tom and Mary. They’re not home right now…

Holy Mickey Morandini! This guy had the nerve to ask Harry Kalas to leave the outgoing message on his home answering machine! And Harry Kalas is doing it!

Wow!

Just like that, Tom from the Delaware Valley, or whatever his name was, had a dream OGM come true and Harry Kalas, all-time announcer en route to Ford Frick honors, just made one person he never met extraordinarily happy. With a pay phone. In a men’s room.

Wow!

The guy thanked him profusely. Harry said no problem. I smiled and shook my head at Kalas after his fan left, told him that was incredible and echoed what someone else in the audience testified earlier: “I love tuning through the static and listening to you on ‘CAU or whatever it’s called now.” Harry smiled, thanked me, washed and dried his hands and left.

The Phillies uniform and those who wear it are, as those things that represent archrivals tend to be, rather nauseating to me. I’m sure they’ll be tonight. But that little HK patch they’re wearing to honor the late, great Harry Kalas? HK will always be OK.

Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or a bookstore near you. Keep in touch and join the discussion on Facebook.

7 comments to Regarding Harry

  • Anonymous

    That's a fitting and proper tribute.
    I live in NJ, in the Bermuda Triangle of Mets, MFY and Phillies fans, and we get both NY and Philly stations on the TV and radio around here. I always loved listening to Harry – he was knowledgeable, and he always had enough class to say nice things about players on opposing teams (even though, obviously, his rooting interests were solidly part of the phandom). His voice was one of the voices of summer.
    The day before Harry died was the day of Johan's very quick 1-0 loss in Florida, so my husband and I found ourselves watching the Phillies game later in the afternoon. We were talking about how much we enjoyed hearing Harry call games.
    The next day, before the home opener at Citi Field, we heard that Harry had died.
    I haven't been able to tune into a Phillies broadcast since then – the games just don't sound right without him.
    RIP to a class act who was so much better than the team of his allegiance.

  • Anonymous

    Admit it Greg, you tune in to the puppy bowl strictly for the kitty half-time show.

  • Anonymous

    Not strictly…

  • Anonymous

    When Kalas passed, and I saw how deeply affected the Phillies faithful was, it made me remember how much I miss Murph. Wayne and Howie are fine. I'm rather fond of Howie, actually. But neither of them are Murph. Nobody is.

  • Anonymous

    I once worked with a die hard Red Sox fan who got the guy who provided the voice for the Red Sox P.A. way back when to record his outgoing voice message. Made not only his day, but his entire life.

  • Anonymous

    I remember that guy! He announced everyone's name in a monotone. My husband and I still imitate him

  • Anonymous

    Well done, by you AND Harry.