BY NICK STAFFIERI, Contributor
We all know the restaurant. It’s that ballpark eatery just beyond left field where one could sit and have a beer and a Schmitter sandwich all while enjoying a great view of the playing field. The restaurant and its ambiance will almost assuredly remain a part of Citizen’s Bank Park, but the name of the ballpark pub honoring our beloved announcer, the late Harry Kalas, may be just as much a memory as old Phil and Phillis from Veterans Stadium after the upcoming 2010 season.
When Harry Kalas was approached by Phillies Management to negotiate the naming rights for the restaurant, HK agreed to be paid $1,000 per year plus a small percentage of sales. This agreement expires after the 2010 season. Harry’s widow, Eileen Kalas (who has already sold their house in Delaware County and is planning on moving to California) has retained an attorney to renegotiate the financial terms of deal with David Montgomery. The Phillies have no intentions to renegotiate the deal or change the financial terms of any future deal to keep the name honoring the late Phillies broadcaster.
With both parties unwilling to change their stance, Harry the K’s restaurant will most likely bear another name starting with the 2011 season unless an agreement is reached prior to that. If such is the case, it would certainly be a shame to see Harry’s name vanish from the ballpark.
Eileen Kalas is well within her right to end any relationship she now owns with the Phillies organization. While it would be disappointing, many Phillies fans would agree that a restaurant name alone is not what drives our hearts and stirs our memories. Harry the K, with or without the name on the restaurant facade, will live on. From every home run hit to every championship call, Harry’s voice will resonate through our minds reminding us of how great it was to be a part of that Phillies era.
Other ideas will stir in the minds of Phillies executives of how we should honor the late broadcaster. Perhaps a statue to hobnob with the likes of Ashburn, Roberts, Schmidt and Carlton outside the park will surface one day soon. This Phillies organization has always found ways to give the fans those special mementos to pay homage to those who gave us so much entertainment. I have great confidence in David Montgomery and Bill Giles that somehow, Harry the K will not be lost to such a small thing as a name on a restaurant.
If the restaurant should re-establish itself under a new name in 2011, I can just imagine that we would continue to share a beer and a Schmitter sandwich knowing that where we sit was once known as Harry the K’s. We may even continue to call it that. And when confronted with the question from Phillies newcomers about why we call it Harry the K’s, our answer would be, “Because once long ago there was a man who worked here that didn’t care about money. That concept died when he did.”
Long live Harry the K!