Mixing corn, wit, wisdom, a shared passion for the sport, and sometimes a little inside baseball, Kalas and Ashburn were a folksy and entertaining tandem on Phillies broadcasts from 1971 until Ashburn's passing late in the 1997 season.
"No one will ever be able to match the joy Harry and Richie Ashburn brought to our fans for all those years," Phillies chairman Bill Giles, who hired Kalas away from the Houston Astros, said in a statement yesterday.
Kalas replaced popular broadcaster Bill Campbell and was not immediately embraced by Phillies fans. But Ashburn, he always said, helped smooth the way.
"It was a situation made more bearable by his ease and grace," Kalas said last year.
Brought together in an era when there were fewer distractions, commercial and otherwise, Kalas and Ashburn quickly developed an easygoing style and a rapport with each other and the city's often-cynical fans.
Kalas had a way of provoking Ashburn's dry wit with a deadpan question or comment. And sometimes Kalas returned the favor. The more mundane the game, the better their material.
When Ashburn stumbled reading the name and address of an elderly birthday celebrant, Mildred Kummerer of Trumbauersville, Kalas paused a beat or two, then calmly asked, "So what was harder, the name or the town?"
Although Ashburn did not smoke cigarettes or drink and Kalas did both, although Ashburn played squash, tennis and golf and Kalas rarely exercised at all, although Ashburn favored a preppy, button-down wardrobe and Kalas dressed as if it were perpetually 1977, the two men got to be extremely close friends.
That was a fortuitous development since they would spend nine months a year together - in Florida at spring training, traveling and at home - for more than 21/2 decades.
"Where the chemistry really worked as well as at any time, I think, in any franchise was, of course, with Harry Kalas and Whitey Ashburn," said Curt Smith, who wrote a history of baseball's announcers, Voices of the Game. "Fans could not get enough of them. . . . They loved one another."
It was Kalas who delivered a tearful eulogy at Ashburn's private funeral.
"If you want people to remember Whitey," Kalas said, "make them laugh . . . give them joy, as Whitey did for so many people. Then Whitey's memory will be fulfilled."
He helped keep that memory alive for the next 12 years.
"Whitey and Harry were really wonderful together," Rendell said. "Let's hope that now they're reunited with each other."
Contact staff writer Frank Fitzpatrick at 215-854-5068 or firstname.lastname@example.org.