Another fixture from my childhood is gone. Phillies sportscaster Harry Kalas died yesterday.
Harry Kalas got his start in 1962, broadcasting Triple-A baseball games from the old Honolulu Stadium. His sonorous voice, played over the tinny Sony transistor radio hidden beneath my pillow, would lull me to sleep on the nights when the Hawaii Islanders were losing big. But when sluggers Stan Palys or Carlos Bernier came to the plate in a close game, sleep was futile. There was no greater thrill to these young ears than Harry exclaiming, “There’s a hi-i-igh drive to left field, it’s going…going…gone!” (His trademark “outta here” was coined when he got to Philadelphia.)
When the baseball season was pau
, Harry Kalas would do the play-by-play for Honolulu’s most popular sport, high school football. He was at the mike as we excitedly followed the high school career of Punahou’s Charlie Wedemeyer
, Hawaii’s greatest football player of the Sixties. Charlie Wedemeyer was a triple-threat quarterback—yes, he could even kick—and despite being under six feet tall could win games single-handed for the Buff and the Blue. (Charlie Wedemeyer was tragically afflicted by Lou Gehrig’s disease, and a TV movie was made about his life.)
Another outstanding athlete from that era was Norm Chow
, who became an offensive coordinator for major college football teams as well as the Tennessee Titans. Harry Kalas would broadcast the high school basketball games (“Chow turns and shoots…it’s go-o-o-d!”), painting vivid suspenseful word pictures, but Punahou could never quite overcome the taller Kam Warriors.
During the early Sixties Hawaiian sports fans were fortunate to be able to listen to Harry Kalas year round. Thanks, Harry, for the memories. © 2009 Stephen Yuen