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Kalas agrees to three-year deal02/24/2004 9:38 PM ET
By Ken Mandel / MLB.com
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CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The signature baritone voice of the Phillies will open Citizens Bank Park after all.Harry Kalas, better known as "Harry the K," is returning to the team for a 34th season, after agreeing to a three-year contract. The team also announced that a restaurant in his honor will open in the left-field scoreboard area. Kalas opened the Astrodome in Houston and Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia during his years as a broadcaster. He'll christen Citizens Bank Park on April 12 against the Reds. "I'm looking forward to opening that new park," Kalas said. "There were quite a few questions [from fans] as to if I was coming back. "For the most part, I assured them that I would be back." Kalas, 67, began his career in Houston, where he opened the Astrodome in 1965. In 1971, Bill Giles recruited him to begin a new era in Phillies history. Kalas called the first pitch on April 10, 1971, and the last on Sept. 28, 2003. In 2002, he received the Ford C. Frick Award and was inducted into the broadcaster's wing of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Earlier this month, he was among 19 first-year inductees into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame. Not too shabby for a guy who worried he wouldn't last in this town. In addition to Kalas, Larry Andersen and Chris Wheeler return to handle the television on-air announcing duties. The trio will rotate with Scott Graham for the radio broadcasts on WPEN 950 AM. Tom McCarthy has been added as a part of the regular rotation, calling the action for the fifth and sixth innings, and will return for his fourth year as host of Phillies On-Deck, a 30-minute pre-game show that airs on WPEN before each game. John Kruk, who became a regular in the booth last season, is likely headed to ESPN. The 67-year-old broadcasting legend, had been without a contract since December. Negotiations had gone slower because of money issues and his publicly stated preference to no longer work with broadcasting partner Chris Wheeler. Since the rotation is virtually the same, the two will work together on road games. The reasons for the rift were unclear -- Kalas prefers to work with Andersen -- Kalas insisted that his desire to return to Philadelphia was too strong. "It's a combination of a lot of things that have gone down over the past few years," Kalas said. "After Whitey [Richie Ashburn] passed, LA [Andersen] replaced him, then they announced the schedule and I wasn't even working with LA. I complained about it then. "We'll work the innings as professionally as possible." In a statement Wheeler said, "I am very excited about the team that Ed Wade has put together for 2004. Spring Training has been a real plus and the new ballpark down here in Clearwater, plus Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, just add to the anticipation of a fun year. I look forward to working with all of my broadcast colleagues, Scott Graham, Larry Andersen, Tom McCarthy and Harry Kalas. Let's play ball!" All 162 regular-season Phillies games will be televised in 2004, beginning April 5 vs. Pittsburgh. The Phillies are scheduled for a Sunday night game on May 9 in Arizona. And Kalas is guaranteed to be a part of Philadelphia for at least three more seasons, and possibly more. "I might stay around for a while. If I'm not calling the games like I should, then I might hang 'em up," Kalas said. Or, as Phillies manager Larry Bowa put it, "Harry is Philadelphia." Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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