When I first started this web site, it was difficult to get people to talk to me. Players and team officials were deluged with requests from The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Daily News, Comcast, WIP and any other number of huge media entities that wanted a piece of their time. But still, I gave it a shot.
At a media event, I waited timidly to get a chance to talk to Harry Kalas, who was to me as big as any of the players who ever came through Philadelphia. I had worked in radio for a number of years and always respected his voice and mannerisms that made him so special. As I waited, people shifted throughout the room and I was slowly pushed further and further away from Kalas. When the lights went on for him to do a TV interview, I figured I would just give up and try to hit some of the other potential interviews in the room.
Not too long after that, I noticed Harry at the buffet table, filling a plate, but certainly didn't want to bother him then. As I stood nervously, looking around the room, Harry actually looked over at me and asked "did you need to talk to me?"
I stumbled out a yes and approached him. He held out his hand and I introduced myself. "Tell me a little about Philly Baseball News," asked Kalas. So, I talked about how it was new and was sort of a labor of love and how we were going to provide a lot of minor league coverage, blah, blah, blah.
"That sounds interesting, I'll have to look it up," responded Kalas. "Now, what did you need from me?"
As I threw a couple of simple questions out at Harry, he paid the same attention and spent the same amount of time with me that he did with the "big guys" who had cornered him earlier. Except instead of having an entire crowd around him, it was just me and Harry.
After a while, I ended the interview, but the discussion didn't stop there. We talked about the old days of baseball and I told him how I had interviewed for a radio producer's job that would have put me in the booth with him, but that I had come up short. He encouraged me to keep trying and told me that there is nothing better than to work at something that you truly love, just as he had the opportunity to do.
The last time that I talked to Harry was at the 2008 Phillies Caravan in the Lehigh Valley. We talked about how the fans in the Valley were looking forward to the arrival of the IronPigs and how much they deserved to have minor league baseball in town. We also talked about the Harry Kalas tribute CD that Cubs broadcaster Pat Hughes had put together and I told him that Pat had sent me a copy and I thought it was great. He laughed and said that Hughes was a great guy and he appreciated him doing that tribute.
Harry Kalas could have easily blown me off. He had already done a number of interviews, he was trying to eat and could have disappeared and I wouldn't have blamed him for a second. Instead, he gave me an interview and put everything else on hold, but the point is that I wasn't any more special to him than anyone else, which is the beauty of it all; To Harry Kalas, everyone was special and everyone deserved to be treated that way.
Harry Kalas is a legend, not just because of his talents, but because of the person that he was day in and day out. He loved the game of baseball, appreciated that he was getting to spend his life doing what he loved and appreciated everyone that he came in contact with.
That's the legend of Harry Kalas.