One of the saddest stories I ever heard was when Harry Kalas was denied the chance to call the Phillies 1980 World Series live due to NBC's broadcast restrictions.
Yet, anytime Phladelphians replayed that moment in their head , most of us can always hear the sonorous rumble of the "The Tugger needs one more...one more.." which was most likely overdubbed in NFL Studios well after the parade. The "Swing and a miss!" was live enough, though. That was all Phillies fans had of Harry Kalas calling a World Series victory for a while.
And that's what's so great about the video of the 2008 World Series broadcast with Harry in the booth. While Chris Wheeler goes obnoxiously, gleefully apeshit (which most people would, given the circumstances), Harry rattled off that final strikeout with extreme precision and perfect dramatic inflection — it's almost as if he was doing a spot-on impression of himself. He probably made that call 90,000 times in the bathroom just hoping to bring it out in real-time once before he moved on. While Wheeler is bouncing around the booth, searching for more people to grope, you almost sense that Harry was about to punch him in the throat if he bumped him and did anything to screw up this call. NBC and 28 years of ineptitude did that the first time around; there's no way Chris Fucking Wheeler is going to deny me it this time.
It was good that the World Series moment finally happened, but it wasn't Harry at his best. No, the "Outta here's!" and the "Swing and miss!'s" had all become stale after a while, the canned showman part of his routine, and an easy gimmick for car dealership commercials. Soon after Harry died, I jokingly sent a text to my friend and former colleague Rich Rys and brought up his horribly-received 300 word piece in 2007, titled "The Trouble With Harry, " which almost resulted in him being set on fire on Broad Street by an angry mob soon after it published. But he was right. Harry was in decline, he was expensive, his A-game had long vanished, and if he continued to stammer and slip-up, the Phillies would eventually have to make a move.
Thankfully, it never came to that.
No, just a week removed from a ring ceremony, on a lackluster afternoon in Washington D.C., Harry Kalas died by himself in the broadcast booth. I think that's an end most of us would find absolutely perfect.
Harry Kalas Tribute [The Fightins]
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