Back in 1998, I was in possession of an advance cassette tape of an album called Let's Cut The Crap And Hook Up Later On Tonight by a South Philly-by-way-of-Conshohocken band called Marah. Right away, you could tell there was something special going on. Brothers Dave and Serge Bielanko were a couple of nervy young guys schooled on roots music and Bruce Springsteen's The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle, and from the swaggering horns to the street corner soul, it was clear they had ambitions that were going take them well beyond the above-an-auto-repair shop clubhouse studio where they recorded the no-budget album. The clincher: "Rain Delay," a gentle acoustic ditty that's a sweetly melancholy ode to indolence and surely one of the great baseball inspired pop songs of all time - better than Bob Dylan's "Catfish" - with a spoken intro by none other than Harry Kalas.
By hook or by crook - or more likely by just asking, because, as Scott Franzke and Larry Anderson were saying on yesterday's choked-up broadcast, all you had to do with Kalas was ask him to record an outgoing answering machine message or wedding introduction for you, and he would do it, gratis - the Bielanko boys took the initiative, and had the cojones, to get the famed Phils announcer to intro them on their indie debut as "those velvety-throated teen idol sensations Marah." And to add, for good measure, "boy, these cats are weird." Not as momentous, perhaps, as Kalas' call of Brad Lidge's final out strikeout of Tampa Bay's Eric Hinske to win the World Series last year, or his answer of "I would have to say cottage cheese" to the Citizen Bank Park scoreboard question "What's your favorite food?" But it's one of my fondest memories from a lifetime of listening to Harry the K.