One of my friends didn’t believe my sincerity when I expressed my condolences on Harry Kalas’ passing and added that I considered him the classiest member of the Phillies organization. Coming from a Mets fan, he said it was an empty expression.
I said I was sorry if it came off that way, but it’s true. Of all the people I met covering the BlueClaws, Kalas was the one I was most excited to come across. (OK, maybe top two, because Tug McGraw was pretty sweet, too. But Tug was more the guy’s guy — I’m not sure too many people would put him under the “classy” column, and I’m not saying that is a detriment to his character.) But somewhere, I still have the mini cassette with the Kalas interview on it.
Plus, as my Yankee fan boss will tell you, I’m a baseball fan first and a Mets fan second. I certainly appreciate the game’s history and icons, and Kalas certainly was that. Among the others I met who I’d consider classy are Ryan Howard, owner Dave Montgomery, former assistant GM Mike Arbuckle, former Lakewood manager Jeff Manto, Marlon Anderson and the late former pitching instructor Johnny Podres.
The Mets put Kalas’ image on the video screen before the home opener on Monday and mentioned the death of Mark Fidrych (“Moments ago we also learned of …”). They were a sadly recent addition to the annual moment of silence the team has to start the Opening Day festivities each year honoring those who have passed away since the last game.
I’ve got much more to say about what was a mostly pleasant return to baseball in Queens, but just didn’t have the chance today, mostly because I focused on the photos first. That post, I hope, will come tomorrow.