Two years ago, in the same ballpark, prepping to play the same team, the Phillies lost their voice. Prior to taking on the Nationals on Wednesday night in Washington, the Phillies recalled April 13, 2009, the day Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Kalas passed away hours before the Nationals' home opener.
"It was like any other day," Ryan Howard said on the two-year anniversary of Kalas' death. "I remember I had just seen him just before he was heading up to the booth. At that time, everything was cool, it was normal. And then we get the news that he had a heart attack, that he had passed. It was hard to believe. I was just talking to him. It was definitely hard."
"(Team president) David (Montgomery) got us together and said something happened to Harry," Shane Victorino said. "Obviously, he said things didn't look good. The news came later and it definitely was sad."
Kalas collapsed in the visiting television booth less than three hours before the Monday matinee game was scheduled to begin. The memory still shakes radio broadcaster and former Phillies reliever Larry Andersen, a close friend of Kalas' during his long tenure with the team.
"It's just an eerie feeling when you walk by, just every day," the former Phillies pitcher and current radio broadcaster said of walking by the visiting television booth at Nationals Park. "You walk by and you have the vision of H.K. lying there with his eyes open, kind of looking up to the sky. But I don't think he was there."
Although the news of Kalas' death came no more than 90 minutes before first pitch, the broadcast team soldiered on.
"Hardest game I ever did," broadcaster Chris Wheeler said. "We talk about that all the time. The hardest part was sitting there getting your thoughts together knowing that we were going to be on an hour and a half after we heard this. I'm thinking a lot of people are going to take their cue from us in a lot of ways. I remember the responsibility that I felt that day of trying to do the right thing, whatever the hell that is. I didn't know what that was, but so many people said to us afterwards that we helped them get through the day. That made me feel good."
Kalas was inducted into the Hall of Fame as the Ford C. Frick Award winner in 2002.
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