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Ashburn and Kalas Phillies’ Soundtrack Plays On: Fan’s Rewind
During many lean seasons, Philadelphia Phillies broadcasters Harry Kalas and Richie Ashburn entertained fans through an honest friendship that was easily transmitted through the airwaves.
I recently covered the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers at the National Hockey League's Winter Classic weekend. While that experience allowed new hockey memories to be formed, I was also able to reconnect with two old baseball friends at Citizens Bank Park.
Harry Kalas, the team's legendary lead announcer was able to spend the last years of his working life in that baseball palace.
However, his long-time friend and Hall of Fame partner Richie Ashburn never had the chance to see that diamond's glory.
That bittersweet realization was evident when I passed by the Phillies radio booth and saw Richie looking at me outside the area that was dedicated in his honor. A plaque outside the booth features a photo of Whitey with a quote underneath that fittingly says, "This game's easy, Harry."
Those of us who are fortunate enough to remember the Phillies golden 1970s era, have a permanent bond with Don Richard Ashburn. I'm not 'mature' enough to have witnessed his playing career, but do consider myself fortunate to have heard that man perform during his second career as a broadcaster.
He and Kalas were successful for many reasons. One of them simply involved baseball fans relating to two friends who enjoyed talking about a game that they were watching.
The Phillies lead broadcaster's efforts weren't staged for television and radio. Their natural chemistry was recognized and warmly embraced by millions of Phillies' fans for nearly three decades.
Ashburn's passing halved the broadcasting duo and Kalas' heart.
The remaining member of that double play team continued on after Ashburn's passing in the fall of 1997. A
respectful longing for his old buddy could be heard during Kalas' remaining broadcasts through his own passing in the spring of 2009.
His references to Ashburn during those subsequent years were no different than whenever any of us mention our own missing family members and friends.
Ashburn and Kalas weren't able to work on television or radio during the 1980 World Series, but at least they got to appreciate it together at Veterans Stadium.
The Phillies made it to the World Series again in 1983 and 1993. Except for those years, the team's on-field product generally wasn't that good and everyone appreciated the talents of Kalas and Ashburn to an even greater degree.
Seeing that plaque, during the Winter Classic Alumni game, allowed me to be transported from that winter's day to a time when Harry and Whitey offered the summer soundtrack to many of our lives. Timeless tunes never stop playing.
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