Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Aloha Harry Kalas

Harry Kalas died today.

You’ve heard his voice.

If you’re a youngster, you know it from NFL Films and the Chunky Soup commercials.

If you’re from Philadelphia, you know it because he was the longtime voice of the 2008 World Champs.

If you work at the Star-Bulletin, you’ve heard Jerry Campany’s impersonation of Kalas’ staccato baritone “Outta .. Here … Home Run … ” anytime one of his fantasy players knocked one out of the park.

But if you’re a Hawaii sports fan in your late 50s or older, you and Harry Kalas go way back, to the early 1960s when Kalas was the Islanders’ first play-by-pay guy. Before Al Michaels, before Hank Greenwald, before Les Keiter even. His success also helped pave the way for guys of the next generation, like Larry Biel and Neal Everett. Hawaii became a cradle for sportscasting greatness, with Kalas among the pioneers.

Kalas also did high school and UH games while here, and always got the local names right.

I’m a little too young to remember Kalas (I was born the same year as the Islanders, 1961), but everyone I know who knew him said he was a great guy … and they said it before he died, and no one talked stink about him, as often happens in the sports media business that is often cursed with over-inflated egos and petty professional jealousy.

His death today (on the job, by the way) is clearly a huge loss to baseball and football. And he will be missed by many sports fans in Hawaii.

-– By Dave Reardon

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