The son of the Phillies' legendary announcer has pipes of his own.
You made it pretty far, that’s pretty good!
Yeah, two-thirds of the way and then it was naptime.
So Richie Ashburn passed away when you were pretty young. Do you have any particular memories of your father and Richie?
Well, I hadn’t really started listening to the baseball games on television at that young age. I was so caught up in all my attorney and law work [laughs].
That’s a good line!
[Laughs] But yeah, I do have very fond memories of Richie Ashburn. He actually taught me how to throw a baseball. When I was growing up, we went outside and we all had a catch together. My dad said to me, “I figured I’d let Whitey teach you how to throw and I’ll teach you how to broadcast a game.” And then also, he would come to our house all the time and have dinners together, so I remember Whitey as kind of being the really funny uncle that’s always in a good mood, always cracking jokes. And whenever he wasn’t around, my father would tell stories about he and Whitey and I probably only understood about half of them at that young age, but even then I could just tell the love they had for each other. There’s no better friendship that I can even fathom.
It’s obviously been said how much Richie Ashburn’s passing affected your father. Did you see that, or did he cope with that more in private, in his own way?
I felt like it was really, really difficult for him, that it was just like losing a very close sibling when Whitey passed away. However, I think that my father…I think he did a good job of handling it. In private, at home, again, he was always in such a good mood about things…I’m sure that he had private moments to himself where it was difficult, I mean, and likewise when I was singing at the stadium, or speaking at the ceremony, or even as I’m speaking to you now, it just hits you sometimes, even at the most random times.
Oh, of course.
And that’s what I feel like happened to my father as well. I don’t think he let it show how much it hurt, and it was always fond memories. We’d be having dinner or having a conversation about something else and he’d go, “Whitey once said…,” and he’d go into this story, you know, and it was one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard. It was always fond memories.
People will be saying the same things about your father and holding onto our fond memories of him for the rest of our lives, I’m sure. Do you plan to come back to this area after you graduate?
I honestly haven’t made a decision. Umm, it’s very difficult to go from the Philadelphia weather to the Miami weather and then go back [laughs].
You love it down there, huh?
I love it. It’s a great place to go to school and it has a very liberal kind of nature to it and it’s accepting of so many different kinds of people. There’s a lot of different ethnicities and cultures here, and the classroom environment is so open to all kinds of different opinions. I tend to be a little bit of a libertarian. I was a Ron Paul supporter. I was actually very happy about Obama, but what I’m saying is that the college environment in this area is just very open and I really enjoy that because I’ve always found that the best way to understand other people and the best way to progress as a society and as individuals is through conversation. And it’s one of the things that I love about communications, that’s what that embodies. And the more open it is the better it is.
Do you have a certain affinity for Philadelphia as far as the manner of communication here – obviously it’s a place where people are very honest and they’ll tell you exactly what they think.
Philadelphia is honest to the point where it’s blunt. But that’s sometimes a good thing. I would personally rather, by far, live in a city where people are going to be honest yet blunt and tell you what they actually think than living somewhere where they say “Okay, see you later!!” and the next day, “I can’t stand that guy, he’s such an asshole.” I think if people are honest with each other that’s the best way to the truth. You know, some people say of Philadelphia, “The City of Brotherly Shove,” but you really don’t find people being fake. I think in the business world it’s a great place to work because people know how to get down to business but they know how to have a good time, too. In terms of sports, it is without question the best city in the world.
What do you think, and what did your father think, about the perception of Philly sports fans by people around the country? You know the reputation that Philly sports fans have…
I think that other cities, from what I’ve learned, don’t understand the passion that Philly sports fans have. Because I go to other cities, and having grown up in Philly I’m expecting the people in other cities to be the same way and they’re like, “Ehh the game’s on, but let’s pop in a movie!” And I’m like, “You told me you were an Orioles fan” and they’re like, “yeah welllll, I’ll read about it in tomorrow’s paper.” It’s like, you know, those people really don’t understand because sports in general are such a wonderful thing – they bring people together, they provide a competitive nature which is beneficial to society as a whole -- and Philadelphia sports fans have so much love and passion for the game that I feel people in other cities don’t understand it and they misconstrue it as being abrasive or whatever you wanna call it. In reality it’s passion. Perhaps people in other cities are just jealous [laughs].
Did you ever have that conversation with your father? He was thought of as a gentlemen, the epitome of class, and I think the people who look at Philadelphia fans in that stereotypical way, you know, that they’re boorish and abrasive, might have had a hard time reconciling the two. I know your father loved and respected the fans -- did he have feelings about the way they were perceived, or ever felt he had to defend Phillies fans?
I’m not sure about that in terms of the public eye. In terms of at the house and whatnot, it was always so clear to me how supportive he was of the way the fans supported the team and the way they were acting. I don’t ever recall him being upset or something like that by the portrayals of passionate support that the fans had. He embraced that. Now, needless to say, my father didn’t have his shirt off with a big P on his chest [laughs], but that was the nature of the way he was raised. He had that natural ability to be supportive and at the same time obviously maintain that class and things like that. I don’t ever recall him ever being upset about Philadelphia fans, and at the same time he understood that other cities are gonna misconstrue what is Philadelphia sports. Because I can only imagine coming from Hawaii -- I don’t think the support of the Hawaiian Islanders is necessarily up to the support of the Philadelphia fans [laughs] – so coming from there he had to go “Hey, there’s a difference here and this is where I wanna work. This is the kind of passion and enthusiasm that I wanna see,” and he just loved that and I think it made him better at what he did.
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…