ON APRIL 14, the day after Harry Kalas died, avid Phillies fan Antonio Jose started a petition on Facebook seeking support for a statue of Harry to be erected outside Citizens Bank Park.

A few weeks later he had a couple hundred "signatures," which were almost always accompanied by positive comments.

Then he forgot all about it.

Until last week, when he checked in and saw that more than 17,000 were on board. As of last night, the number had surpassed 18,000.

"It really did blow my mind that so many people are adamant about having a statue of Harry Kalas," said Jose, a 20-year-old junior at Community College of Philadelphia majoring in graphic design.

One of those people is Lawrence Nowlan, an acclaimed sculptor and former Philadelphian, who is so excited about the idea that he contacted Jose and is already working on a model of the statue.

Nowlan grew up in Philly and attended Archbishop Carroll High. Like Jose, he is a huge Phillies fan and feels Harry deserves to be immortalized.

Granted, the Phillies have already put a billboard in left-centerfield and have Harry the K's restaurant inside the Bank.

Apparently, 18,000-plus people want more.

Nowlan, who now lives in Vermont, said the statue would serve two purposes.

The first would be to immortalize Harry, who will always hold a special place in the hearts of Phillies fans. The second would be to change the national perception of Philadelphia fans.

"As you well know, Philadelphia fans always take a hit," Nowlan, 44, said. If we can do this, we'll forever be able to turn around and say, 'Have you ever gotten off your butts and done anything for your team?'

"It would be great."

To view the petition go to www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=71492908978.

- Tom Mahon