Nationals considered canceling game

Nationals considered canceling game

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals were saddened to learn about the passing of legendary Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas on Monday.

Kalas was found unconscious in the team's broadcast booth at Nationals Park around 12:30 p.m. ET, and he was taken to George Washington University Medical Center. The cause of the death is unknown.

Harry Kalas, 1936-2009

After learning about Kalas' passing, the Nationals thought about canceling their home opener. Team president Stan Kasten had discussions with Phillies CEO David Montgomery, who told Kasten that Kalas wouldn't want the game canceled.

"We talked to the Phillies in what we thought was right," Kasten said. "The input of the Phillies was very influential to me, even though I was mindful that [over] 40,000 at Nationals Park were already in their seats. The Phillies were mindful of that.

"I can't predict what would have happened. If the players felt strongly about not playing in deference to Harry. That would have been a very important consideration for me, but that's not what happened. But we were very respectful of what the Phillies organization thought was best. "

The game was played with the Phillies edging the Nationals, 9-8. A few minutes before the game started, the Nationals honored Kalas with a moment of silence.

Nationals assistant general manager Bob Boone was a close friend of Kalas'. Boone was a starting catcher for the Phils from 1973-81. Boone was proud of the fact that Kalas was a member of the Phillies' organization when it won the 1980 World Series.

"There is a lot of emotions, a lot of Phillies moments when Harry was around," Boone said. "He is a legendary voice. I used to see him for a long time. Any time we played each other or any time I was in Philly, I've seen him and we chatted. He was part of that Phillies growing-up period in the 1970s."

Nationals radio broadcaster Charlie Slowes grew up listening to Kalas in the 1970s. Slowes also remembered Kalas as the voice for NFL Films and numerous TV commercials.

"I was stunned. I knew his health was poor the last couple of years," Slowes said. "He is one of the all-time greats. It was like hearing the voice of God. People knew him as the voice of NFL Films, Chunky Soup commercials and some other commercials. When you heard that voice, it was recognizable."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.