The man in the stands: Todd Kalas is the smiling face of the Tampa Bay Rays

Todd Kalas, the smiling face of the Tampa Bay Rays.

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Well, if you were looking to compile the best tits in Tampa, there are probably worse places to start than the Buccaneers cheerleading squad.

The Bucs were among several organizations Kalas worked with upon graduating from Syracuse University with a degree in broadcast journalism in 1987; others included the Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies. Now, in addition to his work with the Rays, he spends the baseball off-season calling USF basketball games and college football games for the Sun Belt Conference.

While Kalas would not call himself a workaholic, he laughingly concedes that several ex-girlfriends might disagree. But the off-season gigs are important: they afford him the opportunity to pursue his passion.

"Play-by-play is still my favorite thing to do in broadcasting and where I get my play-by-play fill is in the offseason," he says. "I think I have one more big step. I think the big step would be to find a full-time play-by-play job in the major leagues somewhere.

"I would be very happy to be in one organization, one city, just calling games on a regular basis for the rest of my baseball career," Kalas says. "I really think my abilities are at their best when I'm doing play-by-play."

His abilities may well be hereditary. As the son of Harry Kalas, the Hall of Fame voice of the Philadelphia Phillies, Todd virtually grew up at Philly's Veterans Stadium. "Seeing how much he loved what he did for a living made me think that this was a pretty cool gig," Todd remembers.

But he has always tried to stay away from his father's signature calls, in an attempt to carve his own niche. And while being Harry's son may have opened a few doors for him faster than they would have opened on their own, it's always been up to the younger Kalas to keep a job, regardless of how it was secured.

"As long as I'm in the broadcasting game, there are always going to be people who think of me as Harry's son, which is a great compliment," says Kalas.

In 2008, the Kalas men got the opportunity to work across the aisle from each other when their respective teams faced off in the World Series. When Tampa Bay met Boston in Game Seven of the American League Championship Series, the younger Kalas knew more than a championship was at stake because, if Tampa won, it would mean they'd be facing Philadelphia in the Series.

"I have to admit that that was probably the most intense and nervous I've ever been in terms of watching a baseball game, because I knew that if the Rays won, not only were they in the World Series, but I'd be able to share it with Dad," Todd says.

"That was the ultimate. I don't think there's ever going to be anything that can top that for me in broadcasting."

Harry Kalas died on April 13, 2009. He was in the press box at Nationals Park, in Washington D.C., getting ready to do what he loved. The next day the Phillies were scheduled to be honored at the White House for their 2008 World Series victory; they postponed their visit and set the day aside to pay tribute to him.

On Friday, April 17, the first home game since Harry's death, Todd and his two brothers, Brad and Kane, threw out ceremonial pitches. Todd threw his to former Phillies third baseman Mike Schmidt, his favorite player growing up.

Though Kalas is thrilled to have his current job, he's reluctant to assign it too much importance. He calls himself "the extra guy" behind play-by-play announcer DeWayne Staats and color analyst Anderson.

Staats disagrees. The job used to be third- or even fourth-tier years ago, but now it's viewed as an emerging position, one of which the broadcast industry has taken note.

"I've always been an advocate of faces on the broadcast because the human face tells a great story, and whether it's a fan's face or a player's face I think that's important. Todd's is an open and friendly face that I think people feel very comfortable with."

Anderson says Todd is "almost like a bathroom break."

Say what? Anderson describes how viewers are essentially stuck in the broadcast booth with the play-by-play announcer and color analyst for the duration of the game, with only their perspectives.

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