Todd Kalas, the popular do-everything member of the Rays TV crew, is leaving the team to fulfill a dream.
Kalas will join the Houston Astros TV broadcast as the play-by-play announcer for the 2017 season. He reunites with Astros analyst and former Devil Ray Geoff Blum to call games for the team that gave his father his first major-league job.
"It's an incredible opportunity," Kalas said.
Kalas, son of the late Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Kalas, replaces Bill Brown, who retired last season after calling Astros games for 30 years.
"He did a great job," Kalas said. "I'll have some big shoes to fill."
Kalas has been part of the Rays TV team since the inaugural 1998 season. He served mostly as the in-game reporter, conducting clubhouse interviews with the manager and players before and after games. He endeared himself to Tampa Bay fans by his ability to wade into the stands for midgame interviews, especially with those Rays fans who popped up in stadiums around the majors.
Kalas also filled in for Dewayne Staats and analyst Brian Anderson throughout the season.
"I'm elated for him," Staats said. "I hate to see him go. It's a great opportunity for him, and I'm thrilled the Astros made the right choice."
Kalas, a graduate of Syracuse University, worked for the New York Mets radio team in 1992-93 and the Philadelphia Phillies TV crew from 1994 to 1996.
He has called college football, baseball and basketball, worked on the USF radio team and filled in as the Lightning's television host.
But Kalas always wanted to be a full-time play-by-play voice of a major-league team.
"That was the role I felt I was suited for," he said. "I felt my skill set was best at play-by-play."
Kalas, 50, was a finalist on several occasions, but he said he was never too disappointed to return to the Rays.
This Astros job was different.
Kalas was born in Houston, living there until he was 5, when his dad moved on to his legendary career with the Phillies. Harry's roots in the business stretch back to the Astros.
"This one felt right," Kalas said.
But, Kalas added, if he didn't get this job, he was content to spend the rest of his career in Tampa Bay.
"I love, love, capital 'L,' love living here," he said.
Over the years, Kalas developed into one of the faces of the franchise.
"No. 1, he's genuine," Staats said. "He has a great heart. He loves the game. He's still excited about the game after all these years."
And, Staats added, Kalas brought his level of professionalism with him no matter what his job was that day.
"At the end of the day, I really think this job is being a human being," Staats said. "That side of Todd will carry the day."
MORE RAYS NEWS: First baseman Casey Gillaspie, the Rays' 2016 minor-league player of the year, is one of 11 minor-leaguers invited to spring training camp. The others: right-handers Jeff Ames and Andrew Kittredge; catchers Nick Ciuffo and Jonah Heim; first basemen/outfielders Jake Bauers and Dalton Kelly; infielder Jake Hager; infielder/outfielder Patrick Leonard; and outfielders Johnny Field and Dayron Varona. The team also signed left-handers Dana Eveland and Justin Marks; right-handers Diego Moreno and Neil Wagner; catcher Michael McKenry; infielder/outfielder Ryan Brett; and outfielder Shane Peterson to minor-league deals with invites to camp.