I was that nerdy kid that would be tired at school every morning during the spring and fall, because I was up late listening to baseball games on the radio. In the days before cable and every game being on TV, I’d spin the dial to WGN in Chicago to hear Vince Lloyd and Lou Boudreau, KDKA in Pittsburgh to hear Bob Prince, WCCO in Minneapolis to hear Herb Carneal, WJR in Detroit to hear Ernie Harwell, WSB in Atlanta to hear Skip Caray and Milo Hamilton, and WCAU in Philadelphia, to hear Harry Kalas.
Along with Jack Buck here at KMOX, Vin Scully in Los Angeles and some of the classics like Mel Allen, Red Barber, Lon Simmons, Lindsey Nelson and Chuck Thompson, among others, the baseball broadcaster was my soundtrack of summer. I remember starting driving vacations at night so I could listen to baseball from the start of the trip until after midnight. And I knew who pretty much every play-by-play guy was.
With the death of Harry Kalas, that guy who was the voice of a team, and the voice of a city, is almost extinct in baseball. Almost every team shows every game on TV. With the onset of the Extra Innings package, folks that used to tune in to games on the radio can get them now on TV. And kids like I was have no need to tune in to baseball on the radio. Aside from Scully in Los Angeles, what other broadcaster is so closely tied with a team and a city? Because of the proliferation of games on TV and baseball teams’ departure from 50,000 watt, clear channel stations, we just don’t have those iconic broadcasters any more.
I’m sad because another part of my youth is gone with the departure of Kalas. I understand and love the advances in technology that bring us more baseball now than ever. I just wish that some how, some way, we could have kept those great baseball broadcasters and personalities we associated with teams in the past. That time, however, has almost disappeared with the passing of Harry the K.