ST. PETERSBURG — Throughout his Hall of Fame broadcasting career, Harry Kalas has witnessed — and called — many unforgettable moments.
The longtime Phillies play-by-play man has been on the air for four pennant-clinching wins and has broadcast college basketball and Notre Dame football. Even if you've never watched baseball, and never heard Kalas' trademark home run call of "Outta here," you know Kalas' voice, which is all over NFL Films and Campbell's Soup commercials.
"I'll say something to somebody and they'll say, 'Hey, I know you, you're the guy at Campbell's Chunky Soup,' " he said. "It's fun."
But what will make calling this World Series between the Phillies and Rays more fun than anything Kalas has done is that he'll get to share it with his son, Todd, who is the pregame host and in-game reporter for every Rays game on TV.
"This is just great," said Kalas, 72. "I'm honored Todd went into this business; he saw how much I love my job. Now we'll be together for the World Series. It's so special."
Kalas grew up in Chicago listening to legendary broadcasters such as Harry Caray and Jack Buck. He has often told the story of how his passion for baseball was sparked: At his first baseball game, between the White Sox and Washington Senators, Kalas sat behind the visitor's dugout when Senators first baseman Mickey Vernon noticed him, gave him a baseball and introduced him to the other players.
But the catalyst for Kalas' broadcasting career came at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa. It was then his blind speech professor, Dr. Walter Stromer, told Kalas: "You have the kind of voice and delivery that could make it in this business. I want you to go for it."
Said Kalas: "It was at that point, I said, 'This is what I'm going to do.' "
But his career took a few detours. Drafted on graduation day from the University of Iowa, Kalas spent two years in the Army in Hawaii, where he broadcast games for the Hawaii Islanders. After stops with the Astros and the University of Houston, Kalas landed with the Phillies in 1971, where he replaced the popular Bill Campbell. From there, Kalas endeared himself to Phillies fans with his deep baritone, easygoing style and passion for the game. Kalas created a lifetime of memories with his voice, calling all 548 home runs for Mike Schmidt, including memorable No. 500 ("Swing and a long drive, there it is, number 500! The career 500th home run for Michael Jack Schmidt!").
For Todd, who said Veterans Stadium was his "home away from home," his father's voice was "always on." Whether he was playing in the Vet tunnels or listening to Phillies games on the road, his father's calls were "always ingrained in you."
But what Todd appreciated was that his father never forced the family business on him. "I think probably being the normal rebellious teenager, I probably would have gone the other way if he really shoved it down my throat," said Todd, who changed majors a few times at the University of Maryland before transferring to Syracuse, where his career behind the mic was sparked.
Todd Kalas, who has spent 11 years with the Rays, said he deliberately tries to avoid mimicking his father's mannerisms and trademark calls, such as "Outta here," which Harry gleaned from former Phillies shortstop Larry Bowa commenting on an upper-deck homer by Greg Luzinski ("Wow! That's way outta here").
But the Kalas family got to share a special moment on Father's Day in 2006, when Harry and his three sons, Todd, Brad and Kane, had a "Kalas Inning." "It was special," Harry said. "Brad and Todd still get on Kane for (pronouncing), 'Albert Pu-joles.' "
But getting to be together for this World Series may take the cake for Todd, who said it didn't really sink in until about 5 a.m. Monday after a Game 7 he called the most gratifying of his career.
"This is beyond anything I could have imagined," he said.
Joe Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.