Remembering Vin Scully

It was the poise. It was the prose. It was the silky, smooth voice that radiated through speakers making even bad days palatable. It was Vin Scully.

When Mr. Scully talked, you listened. Why? You listened because you knew you were going to learn something. You listened because he made the game you love, already so brilliant and beautiful, even more poetic. He was a storyteller, a master craftsman with a microphone; the perfect narrator for our country’s past time. And, Tuesday, August 2, 2022, the world lost the voice that had spanned generations to bring us the game of baseball.

When you’ve broadcast for 67 years (1950-2016), you’re around for many, if not all, the seminal moments in baseball. Who broadcast the iconic moment when former-Tiger Kirk Gibson hobbled to the plate in the 1988 World Series? Vin did. Who was on the call when the “Curse of the Bambino” struck Bill Buckner in 1986? Vin was. What about the only Perfect Game thrown in World Series history back in 1956? Vin called it. And when you’ve been integral to these moments, it’s easy to see why you’re the voice of baseball. A voice that won’t soon be forgotten and will never be replaced. Who else could so eloquently call the record-breaking home run by Hank Aaron, in 1975–a moment that brought a black man to the plate with a chance to replace the Home Run King Babe Ruth himself? Only Mr. Scully could. And here’s how he handled it:

“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. And it is a great moment for all of us, and particularly for Henry Aaron.”

Grace and eloquence, narrating a child’s game, but making it accessible to all.

Vin Scully: “Our game has lost its voice.”

The words “icon” and “heartbeat” only scratch the surface of what Mr. Scully meant to the game of baseball. But as we all learned as kids, “Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.” Vin Scully was a legend and will always be remembered as such. But, had it not been for another legend, one a little closer to home, Mr. Scully and the Dodgers may have never found that perfect union.

Scully got his start with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1950, becoming their number three broadcaster after the seat was vacated by one, Ernie Harwell. Harwell resigned the post after the 1949 season for the number two job for the New York Giants. Both starting their careers in the New York market, Harwell eventually wound up in Detroit, and Scully headed west when the Dodgers re-located. The two Hall of Fame broadcasters, given their longevity in the game and absolute mastery in the broadcast booth, were forever connected.

Mr. Scully was a storyteller, with asides comprised of stories of days gone by. He reminisced of interactions with players from yesteryear, funny quips to gain the audience’s trust, and made you feel as if you were welcomed in his home to enjoy a ballgame together. A moment was never too big for him, letting it breathe when necessary. Even stepping away from the mic to take in the history a moment may present. For instance, as Clayton Kershaw wound up and tossed the pill for his final out of his 2014 no-hitter, Mr. Scully simply said, “Now it’s his moment. What he does with it after 101 pitches, we are delighted to share the moment with you. Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to sit back and watch it with you.” Of course, Vin, we’ll watch any game with you that you want.

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In the introduction to his SABR Bio, the author writes, “The principal announcer, the team’s ‘voice,’ is the embodiment of the link between the team and its loyal fans. No one is a better illustration of that nexus than the Dodgers’ Vin Scully, whose professional work for the organization spanned two coasts and sixty-seven consecutive years.”

The Detroit Tigers found themselves under the voice of Mr. Scully during their 1984 World Series. NBC rotated between Al Michaels and Mr. Scully during the 1980 decade of the World Series, and by fortune, Mr. Scully was on the call in 1984. When Detroiters ever want to relive the best team in our franchise’s history, Vin Scully is on the call.  The “Bless You Boys” and fans alike, were graced by the broadcaster who continually looked at the game in a child-like manner: its joys, celebrated; its hurts, felt; but its hopes, never squandered.

When someone like Mr. Scully passes from this life, words are not adequate enough to express appreciation. He will be missed, but always remembered. And though words may not be adequate from someone like this author, maybe there’s a little help to be drawn from Mr. Scully’s final sign-off in the Dodgers Booth:

“Now all I can do is tell you what I wish for you: May God give you for every storm a rainbow, for every tear a smile; for every care a promise and blessing in each trial; for every problem life sees a faithful friend to share; for every sigh a sweet song and an answer for each prayer. You and I have been friends for a long time, but I’ve always known in my heart that I needed you more than you needed me. And I’ll miss our time together more than I can say. But you know what? There will be a new day, and eventually a new year. And when the upcoming winter gives way to spring, rest assured…it will be time for Dodgers baseball. So this is Vin Scully, wishing you a very pleasant afternoon, where ever you may be.”

 

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