First Published 8/22/2022---THANK YOU VIN SCULLY: It's been said that if baseball had a poet laureate it would be Vin Scully. On August 2, we lost that voice and a national treasure. Upon hearing the news of the legendary broadcaster's passing at the age of 94, Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts said, "There's not a better storyteller, and I think everyone considers him family." I believe both claims to be true. As a little boy in Brooklyn, a red headed Vin Scully would lie on a pillow underneath the family's four-legged radio, snack on saltines and listen to football games. The roar of the crowds got him to thinking he would like to call these games some day and be a part of it. And be a part of it he was. In 2016, at the age of 88, Scully retired after calling the Dodgers games for 67 years, the longest tenure of any broadcaster for one team in history. After serving in the Navy for a year, Scully attended Fordham University where he studied broadcasting, lettered and played outfield for the baseball team for two years while calling sports games on the School's WFUV. He sent 150 letters to radio stations looking for work. Eventually he was noticed and recruited by legendary broadcaster Red Barber to call college games. Soon after, in 1950 at the age of 22, Scully would join Barber in the Dodgers radio booth. In 1953 a 25-year-old Scully would become the youngest person to broadcast a World Series, a record that still stands. In 1958 he would make the move to LA when the Dodgers relocated. Although he broadcast other sporting events, he always remained a Dodger constant. His poetic and lyrical style, his even tone, his positive demeaner, won him legions of baseball fans across the country, many of whom who had no rooting interest in the Dodgers. He was like listening to your grandfather's stories through the radio. Fellow broadcaster Dick Enberg said of Scully, "He paints the picture more beautifully than anyone who's ever called a baseball game." And though known for his mastery of the English language, it was often his silence that was critical to his broadcast excellence. He knew when to let the game breathe. He allowed the listener to enjoy the "moment" and to hear the crowd reaction. He never buried us with useless statistics just to "fill" or have something to say. Unlike most frenetic and stress filled broadcast booths today that are overflowing with three or more chatty talking heads tripping over each other to present the next pointless stat and rushed to squeeze in endless bullet points, never failing to miss the actual game in an effort to hear themselves talk about exit velocity and launch angles and bat flips. Scully was a one man show, an oasis of solitude, relaxed, measured and calming. For many of us, he was the only "therapy" we needed. He allowed us to escape life's annoyances, not remind us of or become one of them. Vin would seamlessly stitch together a quilt from patches of factoids and history and all manner of subjects to keep us warm and enthralled while never losing focus on the game. He preferred to tell us "who" someone was not "what" someone was. If baseball is the thinking man's game, Vin was the professor. He was a master.
Scully vowed to be unbiased and factual in his career. When asked to be more of a "homer" by management early on he stayed true to himself and said no. This did not prevent him from sharing his feelings on many subjects including his disdain for socialism. His patriotism was on full display when Rick Monday thwarted a would-be flag burner in the outfield and after baseball resumed after the attacks of 9/11. Or his social commentary when Hank Aaron broke Ruth's home run record in Atlanta against his Dodgers. "What a marvelous moment for baseball, what a marvelous moment for Atlanta, what a marvelous moment for the country and the world - a black man is getting a standing ovation in the deep South for breaking the record of an all-time idol." In 1959 the Dodgers held Roy Campanella Night. The HOF catcher was paralyzed in a car crash and proceeds from the night where to help with his medical expenses. The lights were turned off as Pee Wee Reese wheeled Roy to the pitcher's mound as a record of more than 93,000 fans held candles for the vigil. Scully eloquently asked, "Let there be a prayer for every light, and wherever you are, maybe you, in silent tribute to Campanella, can also say a prayer for his well-being." Scully was deeply religious and often shared his faith with listeners. He even narrated a CD of the Holy Rosary for Christian players. Throughout his life his Roman Catholic faith would be tested. He was only seven when his father died. In 1972 his wife of 15 years Joan died suddenly, making him a widower with three children. He lost his son Michael at age 33 in a helicopter crash. In 2021 his second wife Sandra passed after a long battle with ALS. They were married 47 years. Through all the tragedies, Vin endured with grace. "I believe it's all part of God's plan," he would say after Sandras passing. Always kind and humble, always deflecting accolades and applause with his typical "It's just me" style, Scully would express his gratitude saying, "God has been incredibly kind to allow me to be in the position to watch and to broadcast all these somewhat monumental events. I'm really filled with thanksgiving and the fact that I've been given such a chance to view. But none of those are my achievements; I just happened to be there." Well, you did have achievements Vin. He is the only non-player in the Dodgers Ring of Fame, the Dodger broadcast booth bears his name, he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1982 he won the Ford C Frick Award. He won the Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award. He has a Day and a street named after him in LA and has been named California Sportscaster of the year 21 times. He has won Emmy's including one for lifetime achievement. He is in the National Radio, Sportscasters and Baseball Halls of Fame. And he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama, the highest civilian honor, to name but a few. In his remarks President Obama told the crowd how Scully asked him if he was sure he had the right person. Scully said, "I'm just an old baseball announcer." The President reminded Vin that, "To us, you are an old friend." Vin Scully called over 10,000 games and in a twist of fate his final game was the Dodgers clinching the division over his boyhood team the Giants. In all, Vin called 25 World Series, 18 no hitters, 12 All-Star Games, and three perfect games including Don Larson's, the only perfect game in a World Series. To us baseball fans you called 10,000 perfect games and we thank you for each and every one of them.