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Silenced voice leaves big hole

The Philadelphia Phillies do not have a baseball game tonight. That's probably appropriate. It lets the team and its fans focus on the real meaning of this day. You see it was one year ago today that we lost our voice. April 13, 2009, was the day the Phillies' legendary broadcaster Harry Kalas died in the broadcast booth just before the team played at Nationals Park in Washington, DC. A year later, the loss is still very real.

I doubt I'll ever forget that day and finding out what happened. I'll never forget using my cousin Steve's log-in to listen to the Phillies radio broadcast online. I'll never forget broadcasters Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen apologizing in advance if their voices crackled, which they did, or if sometimes there were long pauses, which there were. When Shane Victorino hit a home run, Franzke so appropriately and understatedly said, "And, yes, folks, it's 'outta here,'" borrowing Kalas's famous call, but not trying to use it like Harry. I will most assuredly never forget Franzke ending the broadcast, voicing broken and halting with tears, signing off for his broadcast partners, including Harry.

A few days later I drove to Philadelphia for Kalas's funeral at Citizens Bank Park. It was an emotional yet beautiful day. A fitting honor for a man who meant so much to so many. As Steve, my friend Jason and I left the ballpark, I saw Franzke chatting with some fans. I stopped and grabbed his arm and thanked him for the incredible job he had done during that game that started just a couple hours after Harry died and how much it helped me through the day.

"Thank you," Frankze said. "That means a lot."

But what meant and continues to mean so much more is Harry. I can't believe sometimes how strong the emotions are for me. For my birthday I got the Phillies year in review video, which included a segment on Kalas's death. Watching it brought back the tears. A couple weekends ago during a visit to see family in NJ, that video was on a Philadelphia sports channel. I was surprised how tough it was watching that segment again. Same goes for rereading the blog I wrote as the Phillies played the day of his death.

The Phillies won that game for Harry. They won a lot of games for him last season before falling just short in the World Series. There were some incredible moments along the way, and we all wondered how Harry would've made the call. Remember the comeback in Game 4 of the NLDS in Colorado? How about Jimmy Rollins's game-winner off Jonathan Broxton in Game 4 of the NLCS? Or Chase Utley's homers in the World Series? Just imagine if Harry had made the calls. It's easy. And maybe that's how we cope. We keep his memory alive. We imagine Harry's voice in those big moments and the small ones, too. It's no offense to the current broadcasters. I still love listening to Franzke and Andersen on the radio. They get it. They get how much Harry meant to us. They know how much he meant to them as a friend and a colleague.

After all Harry was the voice for Phillies fans for almost 40 years. His was the voice that pushed me into broadcasting. He was the soundtrack of summers in Philadelphia. His was the voice that made broken dreams OK and dreams come true that much better. And it'll take more than one year for me and so many others to come to terms with it being silenced for ever more.

We miss you, Harry the K. And we always will.

By: Kevin Wuzzardo

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