WASHINGTON - Longtime Philadelphia Phillies broadcasterHarry Kalas, who punctuated innumerable home runs with his "Outtahere!" call, died Monday after being found passed out in thebroadcast booth before a game against the Washington Nationals. Hewas 73.
"We lost our voice today," team president David Montgomerysaid, his voice cracking. "He has loved our game and made just atremendous contribution to our sport and certainly to ourorganization."
Kalas was discovered by the Phillies director of broadcastingabout 12:30 p.m. and taken to a local hospital, Montgomery said.
Kalas had surgery earlier this year for an undisclosed ailmentthat the team characterized as minor. He looked somewhat drawn lastweek as the Phillies opened the season at home.
Kalas joined the Phillies in 1971. Before that, he was a memberof the Houston Astros' broadcast team from 1965-70. In 2002, hereceived the Baseball Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick Award for hiscontributions to the game.
"Players come and go, but 'Outta here!' -- that's forever,"said Scott Franzke, a Phillies radio broadcaster.
Kalas lent his sonorous voice to everything from puppies tosoup. He did work for NFL Films, was the voice for Chunky Soupcommercials and Animal Planet's annual tongue-in-cheek Super Bowlcompetitor, the Puppy Bowl.
Kalas joined the Phillies radio and TV broadcast team the yearthe club moved into its former home, Veterans Stadium, replacingfan favorite Bill Campbell.
He wasn't immediately embraced by Phillies fans, despite beingpaired with Richie Ashburn, a Hall of Famer as a player, andlongtime announcer. But Kalas evolved into a beloved sports figurein Philadelphia. He and Ashburn grew into a popular team, andshared the booth until Ashburn's death in 1997.
"Major League Baseball has lost one of the great voices of ourgeneration," commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement."Baseball announcers have a special bond with their audience, andHarry represented the best of baseball not only to the fans of thePhillies, but to fans everywhere."
Kalas fell in love with baseball at a young age, when his fathertook him to Comiskey Park to see the Chicago White Sox play theWashington Senators. It was a rainy night, and Kalas sat with hisdad behind the Washington dugout.
"Because of the rains, the field was covered," he told the AP."There was no batting practice, so the players really didn't haveanything to do. Mickey Vernon popped out of the dugout, saw thiswide-eyed kid -- me -- picked me up, took me in the dugout, gave me abaseball, introduced me to his teammates, and thus began my love ofbaseball and the Washington Senators."
He maintained that enthusiasm for the game throughout hiscareer.
The son of a Methodist minister, the Naperville, Ill., nativegraduated from the University of Iowa in 1959 with a degree inspeech, radio and television. He was drafted into the Army soonafter he graduated.
In 1961, he became sports director at Hawaii radio station KGUand also broadcast games for the Hawaii Islanders of the PacificCoast League and the University of Hawaii.