Hard to Believe, Harry.

Speaking of the WIP Radio Morning Show as I was in the last post here, today they had veteran baseball announcer Harry Kalas as a guest for a fascinating and charming hour-long interview. A good portion of the time, Harry told stories about the man who man be, all things taken into consideration, the most popular Philadelphia sports figure ever, with a career as Hall of Fame centerfielder and radio broadcaster which spanned 45 years.

Two of the funniest tales that he recounted about Richie Ashburn, the man he called “His Whiteness” for both his nickname (Whitey) and his pale complexion, were these:

In their early days as a broadcast team, Whitey would sometimes get bored and/or hungry and, being familiar with a local pizza house (let’s call it, oh I dunno, something Italian-sounding, say “Pietrantonio“), would ask “I wonder if the folks over at Pietrantonio Pizza are listening tonight?” Sure enough, a couple of pizzas would arrive in the broadcast booth shortly thereafter.

After this had gone on for several weeks, management called Ashburn in and told him this could not continue because Pietrantonio’s was not a sponsor and it was unseemly for him to give out their name regularly. A few night’s later, when Whitey was hungry again he picked up the sheet for the fan birthday announcements of fans that was a show staple and said, “Harry, tonight we have best wishes for the Pietrantonio twins, plain and pepperoni.” Fifteen minutes, two pizzas arrived with the appropriate toppings.

On another occasion, Kalas, Ashburn and another broadcaster were at at bar in New York before an night game when they were approached by the sort of woman we used to call a “lady of the evening.” She said to them, “Gentlemen, I’ll do anything you want for a $100.” Whitey thought for a minute and replied, “How about the pre-game show,” a task he particularly disliked.

Our title for this post, by the way, was a popular exclamation of Ashburn’s during a broadcast when something either strange or truly dumb had happened on the field.


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