The son of the Phillies' legendary announcer has pipes of his own.
But if the opportunity ever presented itself – like if an opera company came to you and offered you the opportunity to become a part of that world professionally, would you consider it?
I would certainly consider it. It’s something where I feel like I would really enjoy it, because that’s what I love to do. But I think in terms of my career, I think it’s more likely that I will make my career doing something in the communications realm. But if the opportunity arose, I would love that, I would immerse myself in it, because I feel like I could then return to the communications eventually. To be honest I would love to do both. I’m kinda torn between the two things here. I’ve been singing since middle school and it’s a passion of mine and I’d love to be able to perform, but, you know, I grew up around my father and I’ve had the opportunity to broadcast in the booth with him. And not only sports, I’ve done voiceovers for small independent films and things like that. I really enjoy doing that. So I haven’t really decided, but if an opportunity arose in either field, I’d like to seize the day.
I imagine that growing up, people must have always asked you if you intended to follow in your father’s footsteps as a baseball announcer. At any point did you turn away from that notion because you wanted to do your own thing in life?
To be honest, I didn’t intend…I didn’t ever think I would do broadcasting seriously for a living until junior year in high school. Throughout most of my high school career I was set on performing in theater and opera, and prior to that, there were a few years in middle school where I wanted to be a professional bowler.
Really? You’re a good bowler?
I used to be. I used to be pretty good. I haven’t bowled a whole lot lately.
What’s your high score?
Yeah, one away! 11 strikes in a row and then a nine. When I was 17 I averaged 212, which is pretty good for a 17-year-old. But since then I haven’t really been doing it as much. The really funny thing is that back in elementary school and even in kindergarten, you know how the teacher will sometimes ask you know, “Do you know what you want to do for a living?” And kids will say, “I wanna be a fireman” or “I wanna be a policeman”? I was the only kid in my class who said, “I wanna be an attorney.”
Hah, why was that?
Honestly? I have no idea! I was the kind of kid where my family…we’ve always liked to talk and discuss things instead of you know, “This is what you’re doing and this is why, don’t talk back!” We’d sit and someone would say, “This is what I think you should do,” and I’d say “Well, I’d like to do it this way” and there would be this back and forth thing, trying to persuade them or something. And I got into this kinda habit of every person I interacted with, I’d try to come up with the correct solution for them and figure out exactly why we were doing it for all these various reasons, and with all my friends to this day I still have these philosophical conversations for hours. So yeah, that’s what I wanted to do when I was in kindergarten, believe it or not.
I’m not assuming that you see it as a burden, but when you’re the child of an iconic person I think you’re always asked that question about if you’re going to do the same thing in life – like I’m sure people wonder if Michael Jordan’s son is going to become an NBA player -- and I’m just curious if it becomes something you want to run away from because it’s what people expect or even in some way pressure you to do.
No, not at all, not at all. I have never felt pressure from anybody to pursue that field, especially my family. My father was always very supportive of whatever I wanted to do. He was there when I was doing opera, when I was doing theater…he saw me bowl my 299. He was always 100% supportive of whatever I wanted to do, as was my mother. And to be honest, I never really got pressure from my siblings or even strangers to follow in my father’s footsteps.
Really? I guess I’m surprised to hear that, I assumed that would be the case. You obviously know the history of baseball and broadcasting, the family connections, like Jack Buck and Joe Buck, Harry Caray and Skip Caray, and obviously your dad and your brother, Todd…how it’s often a family affair.
Exactly. But to be honest I never felt the pressure and I’m glad I was able to come to that conclusion myself. I wonder if I had felt that kinda pressure if it would have tainted me or if it made me want to run away from something that I now know from experimentation that it’s something I truly enjoy and want to do.
Do you find that strangers who talk to you say they feel like they recognize your voice but can’t place it?
That has happened before, yeah. People are like, “You sound familiar and you look familiar.” And every time that happens I just smile because both of those are beautiful compliments. There’s no person in the world that I’d rather sound like -- I don’t pretend to have quite as sonorous a speaking voice as my father, but every time I get that compliment I just beam inside.
Do you remember the first game you went to in Philly?
The first baseball game? To be honest I don’t remember, but I was told about it a couple weeks ago. Apparently I was with my father’s brother and his wife at the game, and I guess I was three or four years old so I wouldn’t remember. But it was back at Veteran’s Stadium and I was with them and I guess I fell asleep in the sixth inning.
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.
Wow, did you know that Philly R&B/soul icon Teddy Pendergrass and legendary Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas share the same birthday? I didn’t until just now! Teddy turns 59 today, while Harry turns 73. I think they should celebrate together…
Letters to the Editor