By Ramon Gonzales / Staff Writer
In what turned out to be 7-1 rout in favor of the Giants, the baseball public listened to Mr. Vin Scully sign off officially for the very last time after an unparalleled 67-year broadcast career. Since the beginning of the 2016 season, fans have had a heightened appreciation for each benchmark throughout the year, as it was understood it would be the last shared with Mr. Scully’s narration. As the end of the season grew closer, the tributes began to pour in. Colleagues in broadcasting, hall of fame baseball players, team owners, managers, other professional athletes, celebrities, everyone seemed eager to not only share their personal connection with Mr. Scully, but all seemed to reiterate the same sincere sense of gratitude for having been lucky enough to know his voice.
Paraphrasing most of the tributes, Vin Scully was a constant. His voice was not only synonymous with Dodger baseball but for generations of fans, his voice was that of our most cherished storyteller. His signature broadcast style was a fluid mixture knowledgeable baseball history delivered with the kind of casual comfort that happens only in conversation with someone loved. It’s safe to say that for generations, Vin Scully was an extended family member that spent time in everyone’s home, at least during the dog days of summer.
While most people can recall a very specific time that Vin’s voice provided the perfect soundtrack to an unforgettable Dodger moment, there are also those remain stuck. While narrowing down 67 years to just a few examples is difficult enough, for a large portion of fans, retirement just never seemed likely, despite its obvious inevitability. In the simplest of terms, the Earth is round, the sun will rise and set tomorrow, and Mr. Scully would be in the broadcast booth for the Dodgers – while life has few certainties, surely Scully’s voice was one of them. For some people, there was never a sense of holding on, as most assumed it would never be gone.
In fact, it’s Scully’s role as narrator that still prompts people to do something that by 2016 standards, is a nearly impossible feat. When Vin spoke, people sat, idle, and listened. In a world where attention span is nil and distractions happen by the second, Vin’s ability to slow the world down and command attention was at least in part, why there will never be another Vin Scully.
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Today marks the first official day that fans have to acknowledge that Mr. Scully is no longer the broadcaster of the Dodgers. His farewell was modest, reminding everyone and often, that he felt he was the lucky one as he got to enjoy his passion for all of his life. Though with a heavy heart, his goodbye was paired always with gratitude to the fans. He spoke magnificently, but his message was that the fans were always there to listen. That sort of modesty loans itself to the kind of human being Mr. Scully is. For all of his talents, for his ability to weave a properly placed anecdote without missing the meat and potatoes of his play-by-play, it’s important to emphasize that Vin remains unique not only for what he said and the manner in which he said it, but because it was him saying it.
Most fans learned this season that October 2nd, 2016 was a very specific day for Mr. Scully. The plan to retire on that day would bookend a pivotal life moment for Vin that began when he was all of 8 years old. It was when he saw the line score published in the window of a Chinese Laundry in New York from Game 2 of the World Series in 1936. He read that the then New York Giants were walloped 18-4 by the Yankees. It was right then that he fell in love with baseball, mainly out of concern for the Giants.
Vin found baseball, through innate, human compassion. Imagine that. If good things happen to good people, well, 67 years worth of baseball brilliance was likely befitting for an eight year old that became a fan of a baseball team, for losing.
The timeline of Vim’s career won’t fit an any editorial feature. There just aren’t any words that can properly summarize his kind of contribution. What has made itself plainly evident is the universal admiration that has continued to swell. There were tears, an involuntary shed of tears that happened at each place Vinny stopped to bid adieu. All good things must come to an end and in this case, even the best of things. However, while Scully’s legendary calls will live on in perpetuity, there is another aspect of his story that might help further explain why a baseball broadcaster meant so much to so many.
The notion that certain people were put on this Earth to do some thing specific is a battered cliché. There’s an implication of chance that is tied with that way of thinking and while Mr. Scully’s modest disposition would suggest that good fortune happened to be in his pocket, nothing lasts 67 years by chance. For every warm wish and fond recollection, those that knew him well would always reiterate that Scully’s preparation was second to none. No one becomes that good at anything just by being born with it. Everyone chases that kind of fulfillment. To be able to do what you love is a quality of life that few people achieve. 67 years of baseball fans got to not only watch Vin personify everything beloved about the game, but they also got to share in watching someone do exactly as nature had intended. Hence, the tears…
Random Facts About Baseball’s Most Beloved Broadcaster
Game Show Host
Vin Scully had a brief run as a television game show host. Scully was the personality for the NBC program, It Takes Two. Lasting for just a bit over a year, the game show consisted of pairs of contestants having to give numerical answers to questions that also required a stunt or demonstration.
An Overdue Ring
Vin Scully was present and working for the Dodgers during the team’s 1955 World Series title in Brooklyn. However, the rule at that time was that only uniformed personnel were to receive championship rings. Fast forward to 1995 when a chance meeting at church lead Tommy Lasorda’s wife, Jo, to meet a man that worked for the ring manufacturer back in 1955. The mold for the ring was still in tact and the team’s owner at the time, Peter O’Malley had Vinny’s ring made to complete his set of six.
Vin Scully Avenue
The beginning of the 2016 was historic for the city of Los Angeles as Vin Scully Avenue was officially christened. However, the move to name a street after Vin had a previous campaign back in 2013. There was one person that opposed the gesture, Mr. Scully himself. Famously modest, Scully’s statement read, “The mayor of Los Angeles has a great deal more important things to do than name a street after me.”
Scully On the Big Screen
While many fans know of Vin’s crucial role in the 1999 film, “For The Love of the Game” (Costner gave a brilliant 10 minute farewell speech to Scully on September 24th) Scully has had multiple stabs at the silver screen. One of his biggest roles was opposite Bob Hope and Lana Turner in the 1961 Jack Arnold-directed, Bachelor In Paradise.
A True Song and Dance Man
Vin Scully has established throughout the years that his voice is velvet. However, the few times the public has heard him sing, they have been especially convinced. In fact, for his final game at Dodger Stadium, Scully treated the fans to a recorded rendition of “Wind Beneath My Wings” that brought the house down. Dating back to his time at Fordham University, Scully was a member of a Barbershop Quartet and is a lifelong fan of musicals.
A Man In Uniform
Before Vin worked his magic on Red Barber and earned his shot at becoming a broadcaster in Brooklyn, Scully served for two years in the United States Navy. He would then go onto the communications department at Fordham University and began calling football. His first broadcast desk was a folding card table on the rooftop of Fenway Park.
When Vin Said Nothing
Scully recalled that April 8, 1974 was one of his favorite times in the broadcast booth. Henry Aaron stood at the plate tied with Babe Ruth for the all-tie home run record at 714. Aaron went deep. Instead of Scully continuing to wax poetic during Aaron’s trip around the bases, Scully walked away and got some water. He allowed the roar of the crowd to take over the broadcast. When he returned, this is what he said.
What a marvelous moment for baseball, what a marvelous moment for Atlanta, for the country and the world! A black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South. And it is a great moment for all of us, but particularly for Henry Aaron who is met at home plate not only by every member of the Braves, but by his father and his mother, who came running across the grass, threw her arms around his neck and kissed him for all she was worth. As Aaron circled the bases, the Dodgers on the infield shook his hand. And for the first time in a long time that poker face of Aaron’s shows the tremendous strain and relief of the past seven months. It is over, at 10 minutes after nine o’clock in Atlanta, Georgia. Henry Aaron has eclipsed Babe Ruth. You could not get two more opposite men—the Babe, big and garrulous, oh so sociable, immense in all his appetites—and then the quiet lad out of Mobile, Alabama, slender. Ruth, as he put on the pounds and the paunch, the Yankees put their ball players in pinstriped uniforms because it made Ruth look slimmer. But they didn’t need pin stripes for Henry Aaron. And now you can hear Georgia around the world.
Of Course He Was A Writer
During his time in college, Scully penned a column called “Looking Them Over.” The previous authors of the column were John Kiernan and Arthur Daley of the New York Times. Vin also worked as a copyboy for the Times himself for a brief period.
Fans have now become very well aware that Vin Scully was the man behind the one of the most iconic plays in 49er franchise history. During the 1982 NFC Championship game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys, Scully called the last second heroics of Joe Montana and Dwight Clark. Leaving football fan with the famous tagline from that night, “…It’s a madhouse at Candlestick,” it would mark the end of his football broadcast career.
Scully Could Lip Read
There are multiple instances where Vin has famously been able to broadcast what couldn’t be heard from the field via his uncanny ability to read lips. One of the most written about scenarios happened in August of 2012 when Vin paraphrased an eruption from manager Jim Tracy. Vin brilliantly translated some choices expletives to, “…that’s blinkin’ fertilizer.”