A lot has happened over the past few weeks. I completed my second-ever Olympic-distance triathlon, I made what is apparently now an annual trip to Six Flags Great Adventure with my son Graham, and I lost one of my musical heroes with the passing of legendary South African singer-songwriter and activist Johnny Clegg.
I became a Phillies fan in April 1979 and Harry’s voice is practically embedded in my brain — something I am sure I have in common with many other die-hard Phillies fans.
I convinced my family to make the trek up to Cooperstown, N.Y., in 2002 to see Harry enter the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s broadcasting wing as that year’s Frick Award winner. I even shook Harry’s hand a couple of times in my life, both coming while getting his autograph. However, the second time features a pretty cool Harry the K story.
My friend, Cliff, and I were at Jack Russell Memorial Stadium to see the Phillies play in a spring exhibition game. After the game, we went up to the window of the broadcast booth to get Harry’s autograph. However, Cliff saw the people in front of us give Harry a cell phone and he was either recording a message or talking to somebody. So Cliff decides to call our friend Jimmy — a huge Phillies fan — with the hope that Harry would talk to him for a few seconds.
So we finally approach Harry. After Harry talked to us for a few seconds and signed our programs, my friend handed Harry the phone and asked him if he could just talk to our friend for a bit. Harry says, “Sure, what’s your friend’s name?” We tell him that it’s Jim…Harry takes the phone and all we hear is something like this:
“Hey, Jim, this is Harry Kalas. How are you?…Watching the NCAA Tournament, eh?…Well, take care, Jim. It’s getting late so I am outta heerrrrre!”
We again shook Harry’s hand and thanked him. Cliff puts his phone back up to his ear and hears Jimmy say this: “That was awesome. I gotta call my dad.”
Earlier today, I sent Jimmy a text message saying that I was thinking about that time. In his reply, he said “…that’s how cool Harry was. It’s like a small piece of my life is gone.”
A lot of Phillies fans feel the same way.
RIP, Harry the K…Phillies baseball will never be the same.
Writer/illustrator Dave Stevens, creator of The Rocketeer, died Monday after a long battle with leukemia. He was 52.
I remember being at Disney-MGM Studios in Florida in 1990 or so when I came across the poster shown here at left. I fell in love with the look of that poster and couldn’t wait for “The Rocketeer” to come out in theaters.
And “The Rocketeer” was a great movie despite what preconceptions people had of it. Plus, somewhere I have this poster in a frame (I need to hang that up somewhere).
Anyway, The Rocketeer first came into existence as a graphic novel written and illustrated by Dave Stevens, who also helped bring pinup model Bettie Page back into the limelight.
My alma mater, Rider University, and the New Jersey political scene lost a true giant today when David Rebovich, professor of political science and managing director of Rider’s Institute for New Jersey Politics, died after suffering a heart attack while teaching a class. He was 58.
Rebovich, called “The Answer Man” by the New York Times, was a media favorite for his knowledge of the New Jersey political scene. It seemed I heard his voice in a sound bite two or three times a week on radio station NJ 101.5 FM, discussing a wide array of topics dealing with politics in the Garden State. He also generated a ton of media hits for Rider.
Last year, Dave was listed as the 16th most powerful figure in state politics by PoliticsNJ.com (for which he also served as a columnist).
I had the pleasure of creating the first version of the Institute for New Jersey Politics’ Web site back when I was the content coordinator for Rider’s Web site. He was just a cool guy and he really enjoyed talking about the wacky world of Jersey politics.
Dave was also dean of Rider’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences back when I was a student, and he helped me out with some paperwork a few times.
I would like to offer my condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues at Rider University.