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Remembering Philadelphia’s announcers

April 18, 2009 was a day when the Philadelphia sports world stood still.

Phillies fans paid their final respects and players passed along the casket of legendary and iconic broadcaster Harry Kalas to a hearse during a midday ceremony at Citizens Bank Park before the team played the San Diego Padres later that evening.

He became only the fourth MLB personality to have their body lay in state for view. The three others were Babe Ruth, Miller Huggins, and longtime Cardinals’ announcer Jack Buck.

Kalas’ death rocked and shocked the Phillies’ and the baseball world five days earlier when he collapsed in the broadcast booth in Washington, D.C. on April 13. He had the final out call of the Phillies’ 2008 World Series championship a few months earlier.

Kalas was one of many unique Philadelphia and national play-by-play and television personalities highlighted in this version of Yesterday - a trip back in time to the late 1960s, the 70s, and the early 80s - looking back at those who touched our lives.

“Harry the K” joined the Phillies as a relatively unknown announcer who had the task of replacing then legend Bill Campbell. But it didn’t take long for Kalas - with his melodic voice and classic “It’s Outta Here” home run call - to capture the hearts of Phillies’ fans.

Hard to Believe Harry ... It also didn’t take Kalas long to blend a perfect broadcast partnership with Phillies’ legendary outfielder turned baseball analyst Richie Ashburn, who would coin his phrase, “Hard to Believe, Harry.”

Like Kalas, the Phillies also were stunned when Ashburn died from a heart attack in his sleep in New York on Sept. 9, 1997.

Kalas also teamed well with Chris Wheeler, although it was well known in media circles that the duo did not like each other off the air. Wheeler, a Penn State grad and devoted fan, often shared some Nittany Lion highlights along the way.

Wheeler had the longest run of any modern day Phillies announcer from 1977 to 2013.

No By Week ... Phillies’ fans in the 60s and 70s may have forgotten the booming voice of Byrum “By” Saam, who began with the club in 1955.

Saam was coupled with Cambell and Ashburn from 1963-70, and then spent 1971-75 with Kalas and Ashburn.

The Best of the Rest ... Andy Musser was a low profile voice behind Kalas and Ashburn, but he was a consistent, steady presence with the team from 1977-2001.

Jim Barniak was the play-by-play announcer of PRISM (remember it?), and would also join the regular crew in the booth in 1990 and 1991.

Mike Schmidt made his debut in 1990 after his retirement the year before, and Schmidt would be a floater for a long time. Remember Garry Maddox in the booth? Maddox brought a different perspective in his span from 1987-89, years when the Phillies were a bad team.

WFMZ-Channel 69 alum Gregg Murphy has been a regular since 2012, primarily serving as a roving reporter. Murphy also has been a regular on radio.

Follow the Bouncing Ball ... Campbell and Musser both had lengthy stays as 76ers’ announcers in the 70s and 80s. “Big Al” Meltzer also was a mainstay in both decades, and he also became a Philly broadcast fixture for his nightly sportscasts on Channel 10.

One of the lost voices could be Neil Funk, who had the Sixers’ calls from 1982-1991, and teamed with Steve Mix.

Marc Zumoff had a long and successful run as the team’s main voice until his retirement last year.

However, a Sixers’ broadcast mention is not complete without longtime PA announcer Dave Zinkoff, who had his famous long and drawn-out calls like “Julius Errrrrrr-vinnggggg.”

These Birds Haven’t Flown ... Since 1977, Merrill Reese has been the Eagles’ radio play-by-play announcer. Reese, who is 79, recently signed a contract extension that will take him through the 2024 season. Reese is the longest running team announcer in the league.

Former Eagles receiver Mike Quick has been Reese’s color commentator since 1998. Former players Stan Walters and Bill Bergey were some of Reese’s boothmates before Quick.

Ironically, both Campbell and Musser also were part of the Eagles’ team in the 60s and 70s.

He Had Hart ... Growing up watching and listening to the Flyers, Gene Hart and Don Earle kept you mesmerized. They were the perfect duo that complemented each other well. There wasn’t anything better than listening to them during the team’s Stanley Cup runs in the mid-70s. Bobby “The Chief” Taylor was the third man in the booth with Hart and Earle for the last two years of their stint from 1971-77.

Hart retired in 1995, but do you recall that he came out of retirement to call the games for the Phantoms for two years from 1997-99? Hart passed away in July 1999.

Bill Clement and Mike Emrick did their internships with the Flyers before they moved onto the national scene.

A Familiar Voice ... The decades of the 60s, 70s and 80s also wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Howard Cosell, who became known to most of us through his work on Monday Night Football and ABC’s Wide World of Sports.

But a lapsed memory about Cosell may be his ABC live variety show in 1975 that was labeled “Saturday Night Live.” The NBC show with the current title couldn’t launch until Cosell’s show was canceled.

Two Who Were There ... Steve Levy is definitely a name from the past, but he made his mark as a sports anchor on Channel 6 in the mid-70s for six years. Levy later worked as a news anchor in the 80s on Channel 10, and he had the knack to capture one’s attention.

Bill White had a short career as a sports anchor on Channel 6 Action News and he also had the distinction of being the first African-American announcer to call a hockey game. Channel 6 broadcast a small number of Flyers’ games in the early 70s. He had a very smooth delivery.

White had a brief stay with the Phillies, but he is most remembered for being a part of Yankees’ broadcasts with Frank Messer and Phil Rizzuto. He later was president of the National League.

What was Hot ... In 1976, the country was captured with the movie “Rocky,” which highlighted a barroom brawler from South Philadelphia who eventually became a world champion (in Rocky II). It also made everyone wish they could climb the steps to the Philadelphia Art Museum one day.

Mood rings were a fad in 1975 and 76, and cassette tapes and roller skating were becoming increasingly popular (Keep your cassette carrying case with the slots if you still have it).

Watch It Pop ... At a family’s home for Easter dinner, I was reminded about Jiffy Pop popcorn. It has been sold since its inception in 1959. I can recall the days watching my mom fiddling with the tin foil pan and watching the cover blow up like a balloon until it popped.

It was a simple thrill for us, but it always worked.

Do You Remember? ... Every week, I’ll mention a likely forgotten player from Yesterday. Remember “Downtown” Ollie Brown? Brown spent his final four years of his 13 year-career with the Phillies from 1974-77. He was a reliable pinch-hitter and reserve outfielder who provided another veteran presence for the team during its rising run.