Kalas calls Springsteen grand slam, one last time

Last night, before "Thunder Road," concertgoers at Bruce Springsteen's last concert at the Spectrum heard Harry Kalas calling a grand slam.

The Boss. Off pitcher Clarence Clemons.

As the clip played, Springsteen simulated running the bases onstage - even blowing kisses to the crowd, according to one report.

How'd they do that?

After all, the legendary Phillies announcer died of a heart attack two weeks ago in Washington.

No, it wasn't the voice of Joe Conklin, impressionist extraordinaire for sport-talk station WIP (610 AM).

That was Harry's voice last night.

Turns out that fellow sports talker Rob Charry asked Kalas to record the clip 25 years ago, when Charry was an overnight disc jockey at WIOQ (102 FM).

Springsteen was coming to town in 1984 for his Born in the USA Tour, and Charry, a lifelong Phils fan who grew up in Fern Rock, got the idea to get Kalas to call a Boss home run.

Springsteen, just called up from the minors, would have to face the 95 m.p.h. fastballs of Clarence "The Big Man" (in real life, the E Street Band's legendary saxman), Charry said this morning.

Charry, 55, took a rough script and a cassette recorder to Veterans Stadium.

Kalas hardly even glanced at Charry's notes.

"He just went right into it. He just did the whole thing," Charry said. "... It was great."

The "Born to Home Run" bit as it aired on 'IOQ included a couple of segments with Charry's voice.

After Kalas died, Charry, who joined the sports talk station 20 years ago, thought the recording might be something Springsteen could use.

After some searching, he found the tape, transferred it to a digital format, and sent two versions to Ike Richman, head of public relations for Comcast Spectacor.

(Both versions can be heard by clicking the audio links at right.)

"I forwarded it on to the right people, they liked it, and they said they would use it," Richman said this morning.

He passed along only the shorter version, the one with only Kalas' voice:

"Swing and a long drive ... deep right center ... it's got a chance - a grand slam home run, Bruce Springsteen!"

"It was such a class act for him to take the time to pay tribute to Harry the K," said fan Mike Iannuzzi, 40, a credit union supervisor from South Philadelphia.

"The Harry Kalas clip was awesome. It sent chills up and down my spine," said Jason Allen, 26, a salesman from Bellmawr, who was at the concert. "Really got the crowd geeked up, too, and it led Bruce into a great version of 'Thunder Road.' Unbelievable!"

"The crowd went so nuts when they heard Harry's voice, that it almost drowned out the recording," said Jim Verna, 45, of Trooper. Pa. "It was one of the many highlights of a truly memorable show."

The recording wasn't played during Tuesday night's concert, according to Richman and WIP overnight host Big Daddy Graham, who went to both concerts.

 


Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.



Kalas calls Springsteen grand slam, one last time - Philly

Harry Kalas calls Springsteen grand slam (original version)

Harry Kalas calls Springsteen grand slam (concert version)