Players light up cigarette before game as tribute to Kalas

Posted: April 14, 2009

WASHINGTON - It was, in many ways, the perfect homage to someone who had been celebrated for his singular style, for his cool, for a Philadelphia lifetime known as Harry the K.

Shane Victorino, Ryan Howard, Scott Eyre and several other Phillies players couldn't possibly find a truckload of pastel sportcoats to highjack on such short notice so they did the next best thing, sharing a cigarette in the dugout before yesterday's game at Nationals Park.

"I asked for it and a couple of other guys thought it would be cool to do," Victorino said. "It was like, why not? So we called who we could - I forget who had 'em, but we got 'em."

Kalas, who collapsed in the TV booth before the game against the Nationals, was a longtime smoker, the habit a well-known element of his persona. Captured by television cameras, the images of the players' tribute was all over the Internet by the end of the game, a 9-8 win.

The online reaction was positive and could pretty much be summed up in two words: very cool.

"I just thought, what did you always see him doing, other than broadcasting or being with his family?" Victorino said. "It's an HK thing, you know? It's so sad. Just sad." *

- Rich Hofmann

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