The son of the Phillies' legendary announcer has pipes of his own.
Prior to the evening of Friday, April 17th, 19-year-old Philadelphia native Kane Kalas had already sung the National Anthem before Phillies games a few times in his life. But never before had his performance been quite as emotional – or as widely seen and hailed – as when he stood before the mic at Citizens Bank Park just four days after the untimely passing of his father, beloved Phillies announcer Harry Kalas. Kane Kalas, the youngest of the elder Kalas’s three children, wowed the ballpark (and those watching on TV) that night with his deep, rich, operatic voice, and was just as impressive – perhaps more so – the following day when with poise and passion he delivered a heartfelt speech about his father at the Harry Kalas memorial service. Kane Kalas was gracious enough to speak with us at length via phone from Miami, where he attends the University of Miami, about his father, his singing career, his own potential future career in broadcasting, and more.
Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us.
And of course, our condolences go out to you and your family.
Well thank you. It’s been tough coming back to school, but it was really nice to, you know, to be able to go home and spend some time with family, and I was really honored to be able to pay tribute to my father both by singing and by speaking at the ceremony. So, you know, it’s been tough, but with family there for support and everybody in the city, how much love they still have for him, that’s been really helpful.
Did you see the memorial to your father that people built up by the Mike Schmidt statue?
Yeah, I got a chance to see that when I got into town. It was really touching.
I thought the memorial service at the ceremony was beautiful and handled really, really well.
I was thinking when I was watching you speak that there was no way I could have done something like that – when you’re grieving privately, it must be so difficult to do something like that in such a public manner. Is there any way you can put into words what you were thinking and feeling in that moment?
Yeah, I mean, it was really difficult to hold it together throughout the ceremony with the words of the previous speakers going down beforehand, and with the casket and everything. But I just wanted to convey my appreciation to the fans and for those people who didn’t necessarily get to know my father as a person as much as they knew him as a broadcaster and an announcer. I wanted to give them a look into who he was and how incredible a person he was outside of all of that, and how special he was to me. And it was just something that was really important to me, I spent a lot of time on it. I had a lot of singing experience in front of large groups of people but not necessarily as much speaking experience. I mean, in school projects and stuff like that it’s kinda come easily to me, probably because of my upbringing – my father was a good speaker. But never, not in terms of that number of people, and especially not during that emotional of a time, have I been compelled to do something like that. But it was just something that was really special to me and something I wanted to be able to convey to the people, and from what it sounds like from the comments I’ve been getting, it was well-received.
I suppose when you’re singing in front of a huge crowd as opposed to speaking, it’s almost easier because you have that piece of music you know so well to sort of hold onto and focus on, so as much as you’re in the moment it can help you deal with that moment.
Exactly, exactly. I mean, I’ve performed the anthem at the stadium before – that was actually the fifth time. The circumstance was certainly different, but there’s a big difference between going up there with a song you know you’ve sung a thousand times and going up there with a speech. I knew what I wanted to say, I knew the ideas I wanted to get across, but I didn’t have my speech memorized word for word, you know, so…and it was also strange -- I didn’t realize this before I started to speak but every time I’ve sung the anthem I’ve used earplugs so I couldn’t hear myself with the reverb. It’s to keep tempo and pacing, because if you hear yourself it becomes difficult to do that. But when I was speaking I didn’t even realize that was going to be an issue, but I kept hearing myself, and I feel like it kinda tripped me up in a couple places.
Well, you did a fantastic job. It was really moving, and I don’t think it came as any surprise to anyone that he was as good a person in his private life as he came across in public. It’s kind of strange – to the people of Philadelphia your father felt like a member of our families, but in reality most of us only really knew him from afar. It’s such a unique and interesting relationship that he had with the people of the city, and for you being inside that, it must have been really interesting to see and to understand.
Yeah. Yeah. To be honest, he was the same person in the booth as he was in real life. And when I say that, I mean whenever he was broadcasting a game you could tell that he just had this really positive attitude, this really positive energy about him, and he just was really easygoing, really laid back about everything, and he just loved to enjoy the game. You know, it upset him if the Phillies were losing, but he still kept this positive outlook, and that’s the same way he was at the house. I’ve always told myself, you know, when I’m in my 50s and 60s I wanna be just like my father because he was so happy. You might think sometimes that people who are in the media all the time, that they have stress, but he just absolutely loved everybody who came into his life, every fan. It never became bothersome, it never became cumbersome for him. And just watching that, how he interacted with everybody, honestly it’s crazy to me because being in college and being in high school, there’ve been times where I’ve been like, “I can’t…this is tough, I have a lot going on right now, I’m not happy right now.” And I’ve never seen my dad like that.
That’s pretty unique, especially since he was part of the world of athletes, and you know how athletes can be temperamental and so on. It seemed like he always had time for everybody and just seemed like a regular, good guy.
That’s true. The thing that was really striking to me is, especially after the induction to the Hall of Fame and he grew in fame, he realized…it was apparent to him that there was this love for him that the people around Philadelphia rallied around him, but he never…he acknowledged that, but it was almost like he didn’t understand why. He was like, “I’m just doing my part.” You know? People would, after the game they’d say “Harry, Harry, can I get an autograph?” and he’d be genuinely honored to sign all these autographs and afterward he’d say to me, “Son, you know, I love doing this but why do people love me?” It’s like he was just doing his part, like he was just going to work and he felt like he didn’t deserve all this acclaim. He had absolutely no ego, and that’s what really struck me, and I think that’s what it was – he was just so happy doing what he did that nothing else mattered. And just the companionship and the friendship that everybody around the city showed him in addition to that made him so much more happy. When you’re able to do what you love to do, and everybody else loves what you’re doing, I mean, that has to be the best feeling in life.
Mayors and mafia figures have come and gone. The skyline has steadily been altered. Our star athletes have changed so constantly over the years it’s hard to keep track. In a city so reluctant to change, one of the great constants has been Harry Kalas.
Harry Kalas, the Phillies Hall of Fame radio announcer, is dead. I am new to Philly, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have an appreciation of Kalas. He had that voice. And the voice, of course, is what people are going to remember. But what struck me on Opening Night this year — while the Phils [...]
No, it’s not music related, but I’m just completely heartbroken that Harry Kalas has died. He WAS Philadelphia, and some of my greatest memories from my childhood growing up in the Philly suburbs involve listening to the radio with my late father, hearing Harry and Richie Ashburn call Phillies games. Now they’re all gone. Life [...]
The other guy is going nuts, but Kalas is always the gentleman. I love that little smile, though. For more great Kalas moments, go here.
Harry Kalas, the Phillies radio announcer, died today after collapsing in the press box at Nationals Stadium in Washington. Kalas' death comes after the opening week of the 2009 baseball season -- and months after Kalas called the long-awaited Phillies World Series championship.
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Election Day 2014: Tues., Nov. 4