IHAVE BEEN at the Spectrum for my share of great moments - Doc's first game, a couple of Final Fours, Christian Laettner, more Dave Schultz fights than I care to remember, the Boss, the Dead, the Styx (as my father used to call them).
I was there the night Billy Joel recorded the live version of "Captain Jack" that you hear on FM radio about once a week.
But none of those moments will I remember as well as this one from Bruce Springsteen on Wednesday night, just before the second song of his encore:
"We're gonna dedicate this next one to Harry Kalas, Phillies announcer for 38 years, who passed away . . . . Hard to believe, Harry, hard to believe. I want to play this for you and hopefully, you'll be able to hear it . . . "
Then, before launching into Thunder Road, a portion of a clip that WIP's Rob Charry (then of WIOQ) had Kalas tape 25 years ago was played over the PA system, ending with, "Swing and a long drive, deep right-center. It's got a chance. A grand slam home run, Bruce Springsteen."
Bruce then did a couple of rounding-the-bases runs around some small imaginary infield on the front of the stage before pulling out the harmonica to start the song . . . right about the same time I pulled out a handkerchief to wipe away my tears.
You see, I am a sucker for the professional crossover - people who admire the great work by others in a venture other than their own. Whether it's athletes watching those in another sport perform, an actor getting lost in the music of a concert, or a carpenter poring through a good book, there is a respect that sometimes seems far too infrequent in this world.
Large kudos to Charry for getting the clip into the right hands at ComcastSpectacor, and to them for getting it to Bruce's people.
Shortly after a "Thunder Road (dedicated to Harry Kalas)" post showed up on one of the Springsteen message boards, a commenter asked, "Who is Harry Kalas?"
I thought, that seems simple enough:
Harry Kalas is the Bruce Springsteen of sports broadcasting. Or, just maybe, Bruce Springsteen is the Harry Kalas of rock 'n' roll. *
- Bob Vetrone Jr.