Vin Scully: The Voice of Summer
You never know what you’ve got until it's gone. Having grown up in Los Angeles, that phrase means more to me now than it ever has before. For the past 67 years, Dodgers fans have had the unique experience of listening to Vin Scully’s voice narrate their games. This year, however, was his last, as Vin will move on into a much-deserved retirement. His replacement will have massive shoes to fill.
At 7:10pm, no matter if you were watching on television, listening over the radio, or at Dodger Stadium, Vin Scully would proclaim, "it's time for Dodger baseball!" It did not matter where I was or what kind of mood I was in, those words made me smile. Shortly after, he always addressed the television and radio audience by saying, "Hello and a very pleasant good evening to you, wherever you may be." Vin's greetings made me forget everything else that had happened to me that day, allowing me to just sit back and listen to him for the next three hours.
Dodger games felt like fireside chats. Even if you were far away, Vin made you feel as if you were right there next to him at the game. Listening to him was easy, like catching up with a longtime friend over dinner. He made a baseball game sound like poetry in motion. Whether he was describing a routine ground ball to the infield or educating fans about Socrates, Vin captivated audiences with his golden voice.
According to Vin himself, he first fell in love with baseball on October 2nd, 1936, when he was walking past a Chinese laundromat. In the window of the laundromat, he saw the box score of Game 2 of the 1936 World Series in which the NY Yankees had defeated the NY Giants 18-4. Scully, who was 8 years old at the time, recalls feeling bad for the Giants, so, he became a die-hard Giants fan…until he signed a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Vin began calling games for the Dodgers in 1950, alongside Hall of Fame broadcaster Red Barber. Three years later, when Barber was in a dispute over his contract with the Dodgers, the 25-year-old Scully was appointed to call the 1953 World Series, making him the youngest broadcaster to ever call a World Series game, a record which stands to this day. Vin would eventually become the principle broadcaster for the Dodgers.
Scully became an immediate hit in Los Angeles after the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn to Southern California in 1958. In those days, people would bring transistor radios to the game so that they could listen to Vin narrate the games while sitting and watching the games themselves. These transistor radios were so loud that many players claimed that they could hear Vin talking about them while they were playing. This practice continued once the Dodgers moved from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to Dodger Stadium in 1962. Despite offers from the NY Yankees, Monday Night Football, and many others, Vin remained with the Dodgers. He could have been the original voice of MNF, or the voice of the Yankees, but he stayed in LA.
Vin Scully had an illustrious career in other sports as well. In addition to calling games for the Dodgers, Vin called NFL games for CBS, PGA Tour Golf events, and U.S. Open tennis tournaments. He also called other historic moments in baseball history, such as Hank Aaron’s record breaking 715th home run, Bill Bucker’s gaffe in Game 6 the 1986 World Series, and Barry Bonds’ record breaking 71st home run of the '01 season.
Despite other successful endeavors, Vin will always be known as the voice of the Dodgers. In total, Vin has called over 9,000 of their games, which is more than half of the games that the Dodgers have played. He has called 21 no-hitters, 3 perfect games, 28 World Series (13 involving the Dodgers, of which they won 6.), a broadcasting record. He also now has a street named after him, making him the 2nd Los Angeles sports announcer to have such (Chick Hearn Ct. runs right outside Staples Center). Next year, the Dodgers will honor Scully with a plaque next to all of the other retired Dodger numbers, with a microphone below his name. Bob Costas, one of the most prominent broadcasters in sports, figured that, when Vin started broadcasting for the Dodgers in 1950, there were players whose careers began in the 1930s, and there might be players now who Vin has seen whose careers extend until 2030, meaning Vin will have had an impact on a century’s worth of baseball players. That is truly an incredible thought. One man has seen baseball players that played a century apart from each other.
I could go on forever about all of Vin's other accomplishments, but I figured I would end this article on a more personal note. As a baseball fan growing up only ten minutes from Dodger Stadium, in a neighborhood where I could see the lights of the stadium in the distance every night, baseball has always meant a lot to me. As a kid, I would sometimes be stripped of my television privileges, so I would go to my room, turn on the radio and listen to Vin paint a picture of what was going on about 10 minutes from my house. When I came home in a foul mood, I knew I could turn on the Dodgers game and listen to Vin. He made my bad days a little bit brighter; he just had a way of doing that. For that reason, I started referring to Dodgers broadcasts as “story time with Vinny.” Indeed, every night there was a new, unique story that Vin would tell. He told stories of Jackie Robinson, Sandy Koufax, and many other players not just in Dodger history, but also about players who played for the other team. I always wondered how he learned about all of these stories, but I was always captivated to hear what he had to say. Whether it was about how he and Jackie Robinson raced on ice skates one time, how Jonny Gomes once survived a wolf attack, the emergence of beards in Baseball, or how The Beatles had to escape from Dodger Stadium after their famous concert, every story was tremendous.
Above all else, Vin Scully’s humble personality makes him unique. On numerous occasions, the city of Los Angeles and the Dodgers have offered to honor him for his accomplishments over the years, yet each time he said no. Even when the city offered to rename the street that leads to the main entrance to Dodger Stadium, “Vin Scully Ave," he declined the offer. The city went and did it anyway. Now, after 67 seasons with the Dodgers, Vin has decided to retire. His last words were incredibly poignant and touching, and I will always be thankful that I heard Vin call Dodger games. The future will be different without him, but I will always cherish the good times I spent listening to him. Thank you, Vin.