Philly native Kevin Negandhi’s internship with Phillies broadcast legend Harry Kalas helped kickstart his journey to becoming a host on ESPN’s SportsCenter.
The in-booth chemistry between late great Phillies broadcast legends Harry Kalas and Richie “Whitey” Ashburn was simply something just so unique.
“You just can’t create that in a laboratory; it’s either there or it’s not and and they had it,” described Ray Didinger with Glen Macnow Saturday afternoon on SportsRadio 94 WIP.
And, ESPN SportsCenter sports anchor host Kevin Negandhi, who grew up in the area, just so happened to get an up-close and personal look at the duo while as a 19-year-old Temple University student intern in the fall semester under Kalas. Negandhi recalled this opportunity as part of Didinger and Macnow’s “Tell Us Your Story” series.
At the time, then-Phillies WPHL Channel 17 producers told Negandhi that they did not care about his GPA, rather his experience and performance. One producer told him, “I’m going to put you an environment that you’d better step up.” And, Negandhi replied, “Got it. I will step up.”
“The next thing you know, I’m in the booth behind Whitey and Harry,” Negandhi says. “I’m the one talking to the truck about stats, who’s the next batter, what did he do, etc. We’re updating stats and anything Harry needed, he would just turn around and look at me.”
Negandhi recalls many fond memories of the rare opportunity he was given, such as when Harry would look at him calling a game, rip up a piece of paper and throw in a trash can, going: “Here’s the 0-2 pitch!”
“Aside from me being in awe, I had so many great conversations with these guys before the game [and] after the game,” Negandhi says. “Harry knew that whatever he did, I was just soaking it all up. We’d just have a great time; he was so calm and cool about everything.”
A part of what makes broadcasters, like Kalas, live on forever is fans taking their own spin on iconic calls. Negandhi says Harry and great Eagles broadcaster Merrill Reese, for example, are always stuck in his head whenever he watches games and tries to emulate them.
“All of us growing up, we were all Harry Kalas in our head. While we were in the batter’s box playing wiffle ball and doing that little ‘shimmy shake’ with our butts to be Michael Jack [Schmidt], we were doing the play-by-play of Harry Kalas,” Negandhi says.
“At certain times, I would play downstairs in my basement and my mom would say, ‘Why do you keep talking? Who are you talking to?’ [I’d say,] ‘I’m delivering play-by-play!’ and she’s like, ‘Why? You’re wasting so much energy?’ I said, ‘Because if you don’t have to play-by-play, the game doesn’t count, mom.’ At that time, I understood that it was part of the fabric of a broadcast — the game and the voice of the broadcast.”
Negandhi says he made sure he made the most of his internship.
“Whitey and Harry had great senses of humor. As a 19-year-old meeting some of these icons who are legends, you just sit back and you’re like, ‘Okay I’m gonna soak it all up.'”