Vin Scully, a baseball legend among legends, passed away earlier this week at the ripe age of 94. Like millions of other Angelenos and grateful fans around the world, I am deeply thankful to have enjoyed his magnificent voice for so many years. And there’s a travel angle as well: it nearly bankrupted him early in his career.
Remembering Vin Scully, A Baseball Legend And Personal Hero
Ask any LA Dodgers fan about Vin Scully and they will tell you their own story. Everyone has a story. Mine is not so different than so many others. My grandfather, a huge Dodgers fan (as long as they were winning), introduced me to him from a young age. Before each game was broadcast on TV, we’d tune into Vin Scully on his big stereo radio in his den and just listen.
Even from an early age I recognized his riveting voice and remarkable eloquence.
My grandpa would take my brother and me to Dodgers games and he’d bring the radio along, like so many other fans, and we munched on peanuts and listened to Vin as we watched the game. His voice was synonymous with summer and with the innocence of youth and the ties that unite us.
Vin Scully brought a diverse city together. What always struck me when attending Dodgers games is that the fans were just as diverse as the city. There were no blacks and browns and whites…just blue: Dodgers fans coming together to root for their team. Scully’s clairvoyance knitted communities together and encouraged a more perfect union by modeling the virtues of benevolence, kindness, and a subtle yet powerful celebration of progress.
Like when Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1974:
“What a marvelous moment for baseball. What a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the State of Georgia. What a marvelous moment for the country and the world. A Black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol.”
As I grew older, I appreciated more and more his golden voice and his remarkable ability to make just about anything interesting. My teenage years were marked by a fervent following of the Los Angeles Dodgers. I’d come home from school, turn on the VCR, and replay my VHS recording of Game 1 of the 1988 World Series over and over again. Scully’s call of Gibson’s ninth inning, game-winning home run continues to bring me goosebumps.
“High fly ball to deep right field. She is gone!”
And then a pause. A long pause. The perfect pause. So we could all take it and even from my living room 25 years after the fact, I could feel the pulse of Dodger Stadium.
And then this:
“In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened.”
Something Vin And I Shared
Sadly, I never had the chance to meet him. I always dreamed of it…but time like an ever-rolling stream bears all its sons away. Scully was born in 1927 and began broadcasting in 1950, still 22 years old. The infant stages of this blog, then in the form of a podcast, also began at age 22 for me and with all sincerity I hope to be at this as long as Scully. Scully was a natural from the start…I hope to learn from him and others and better grow into my roll as a communicator. But he saw his chosen vocation as a high calling, as do I every time I publish a story with my name on it.
Vin Scully And Travel
Oh yes, and the travel angle. Vin’s father was a traveling salesman. He died when Scully was only four years old. My other grandfather died when my father was seven. He also grew up without a father and I’m so thankful that my father has seen me grow up and is still with us today.
I wonder what would have happened, though, if Scully’s father had lived? What if instead of entertaining himself with the radio in the evening, Scully hung out with his dad? What if he became a traveling salesman instead of a sportscaster? I’m sure he would have been wildly successful, but the world may never have heard his voice.
Scully was a man after my own heart, preferring just to do his job (call games) and not the mundane paperwork that sometimes accompanies it. Early on in his career, he almost went broke because he repeatedly failed to fill out his expense reports. Reminds me of someone…*cough*.
Vin went out at the top of his game, which few people are so fortunate to do. You never want to retire too early, but you also don’t want to stay too long and sort of it lose from the booth (like the dear former Lakers broadcast Chick Hearn, who is another hero of mine but probably stayed onboard a couple seasons too long).
In his final years, Vin stopped traveling with the team, first only traveling to western states and finally only within California. He also cut back the number of innings he did on the radio…simulcasts are much more difficult because dead air is tougher on radio (not that dead air was a problem for Vin, but it took a lot more effort).
It’s a reminder that we will slow down too and that we should enjoy our ability to travel now.
I’m so thankful for Vin Scully and his impact on my life. Truly, he has impacted millions, bringing Los Angeles together and elevating our discourse through his life’s work. In losing Vin, we have lost a great treasure.
top image: LA Dodgers