Chicago Cubs broadcaster Pat Hughes was getting tired of the added travel of broadcasting basketball during the off-season, but he didn't want to just sit around with nothing to do. So, he undertook a project to catalog the careers of the greatest baseball broadcasters of all time. After all, he spent two seasons sitting next to the great Harry Caray, so he knoew just where to start. Since compiling a CD with great moments of Caray's career, Hughes has gone on to put together compilations spotlighting Jack Buck, Marty Brenneman and Bob Uecker. Now, he's done the same with Phillies Hall of Famer Harry Kalas.
"I've always been so respectful of great broadcasters and thought this would be a great way to spend my time," said Hughes. What has resulted has been a series of CDs that fans of all teams will love. The Harry Kalas tribute is no different.
The CD takes you back to Kalas' beginnings with the Astros and features the one inning of work that he did in an Astros and Yankees game that featured Mickey Mantle, Bobby Richardson and Roger Maris all stepping to the plate. The cuts detail events in Kalas' career from the opening of the Astrodome to the closing of Veterans Stadium and everything in between, including his time with Richie Ashburn. Phillies fans will be interested to know that even though he opened the Astrodome, it wasn't Kalas' most memorable opening. "The current one [Citizens Bank Park] is more exciting. I have many fond memories of my years at Veterans Stadium, but the days of multi-purpose stadiums for baseball and football have passed, so even though I have great memories of being at The Vet."
"Pat did a great job with this CD," said Kalas at a recent media stop on the Phillies caravan. "I'm very proud of the CD and think what he's doing is a great idea. It gives fans the opportunity to either hear moments that they weren't alive to hear when they happened or to remember moments that they might have forgotten."
So, where did Hughes come up with all of the audio cuts for the series? "They really come from a number of sources. The Hall of Fame has all of the acceptance speeches and the teams and radio stations are a great source and a lot of times, it's the broadcaster themself that have the tapes on some of these things," explained Hughes. Hughes has also found some private collectors who have given him access to tapes that he's needed.
Starting the series with Harry Caray was an easy call for Hughes, since he had spent two seasons sitting next to the legend in the Cubs booth. "Harry [Caray] was awesome. He went out of his way to be nice to me and to say wonderful things about me and that was on the air," remembers Hughes. "That kind of backing really helps to endear a broadcaster with the fans." Having gotten to know Caray, Hughes believes he would have loved the tribute. "I really believe that he would have loved this. Not only the tribute to him, but to these other greats, as well," said Hughes.
With all of the great Harry Kalas moments on the disc, were there any that Hughes couldn't find? "I wanted to find more on the '93 team, but surprisingly, I couldn't get my hands on it," laughed Hughes. "I also couldn't find Mike Schmidt's four home run game and I would have liked to include that. The trouble too, is that you only have 70 minutes on a CD and it's tough to fit in all that you might want to include."
Along those same lines, is there anything in broadcasting that Kalas hasn't been able to do? "I've done everything in broadcasting that I'd like to do. I've enjoyed it and I enjoy every game that I do," said Kalas. "Since I do football during the regular season, maybe to broadcast a Super Bowl would be special." While he hasn't had the opportunity to broadcast a Super Bowl, Kalas has narrated the highlights to them for NFL Films, just one of his broadcasting duties outside of Phillies baseball.
The Harry Kalas CD is available at Border's Bookstores throughout the Philadelphia area, or it can be ordered on-line through BaseballVoices.com, where you can get more details on this and the other CDs in the set.
Premium users can hear our exclusive interview with Harry Kalas to get his comments on the great moments in his career and other thoughts about the game. Listen to Audio