AS BEFITS the late Harry "The K" Kalas' immortal place in Phillies fans' affections, his $80,000 memorial statue, unveiled before last night's game, was funded by small donations from the die-hards who loved him.
Sculptor Lawrence J. Nowlan, whose human touch gives the 7-foot bronze statue much of the warmth that endeared Kalas to fans for 38 years, told Broad Street Billy that he remembers his summers "walking down the beach at the Jersey shore, hearing Harry's voice on radios, and stopping to ask, 'What's the score?' - especially if there were nice babes lying on those blankets."
"For most of us who didn't get to hang out personally with Harry, we got a voice," Nowlan said. "And it gave us the feeling that as long as Harry's voice was in the background of our lives, then everything in our world was the way it was supposed to be. That's what I tried to capture in Harry's statue - the way his voice made us feel."
Shortly after Kalas' 2009 death, Havertown native Suzanne Norris, an old friend of Nowlan's from their Archbishop Carroll High School years, contacted the sculptor about doing a statue. He contributed seed money for the fledgling nonprofit - Dear Harry Inc. - that raised the rest through social media.
"When my mother was battling breast cancer," Norris said, "and when I was grieving the death of my grandmother, listening to Harry doing games gave me a break for a couple of hours. People who have been through great stress know what I'm talking about. He gave me that break. And it meant so much to me."
Mark Such of Collegeville, who was first in line at the ballpark for Kalas' 2009 memorial service, nodded understandingly and said: "I never had a dad, so I learned everything I know about baseball from listening to Harry. He was the voice of summer."
Thousands of Phils fans who jammed the concourse next to Harry the K's Broadcast Bar & Grille and every ramp above it last night raised their voices mightily to salute their unforgettable Voice of Summer.