Here's our tribute to Vin Scully, long-time play-by-play man for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who calls his final game on October 2, 2016.
Sep 22, 2016
Whoever it was that said, "Do what you love, and you'll never work a day in your life" may well have had Vincent Edward "Vin" Scully in mind.
Scully, long considered baseball royalty by fans, players and his fellow members of the media, has been the play-by-play announcer for the Dodgers dating back to the team's days in Brooklyn and continuing through its 59 years in Los Angeles. His tenure of 67 seasons with the team stands second only to former manager and current special advisor Tommy Lasorda (and by just one year at that).
Scully, born in Brooklyn and raised in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, has been a baseball fan since the age of eight, when he fell in love with the New York Giants (he lived near the Polo Grounds, that team's home stadium). Soon thereafter, he resolved to become a sports announcer, and he certainly lived up to that resolution.
After two years in the Navy, Scully attended Fordham where he studied broadcast journalism. He helped to found the university's still-thriving radio station, WFUV, and called Rams baseball, football and basketball games. Upon graduating, he wrote to radio 150 stations on the East Coast, pitching his services as an announcer. He received just one response, from station WTOP in Washington, D.C., which brought Scully on as a part-timer.
Soon thereafter, legendary announcer Red Barber, then the sports director of the CBS Radio Network, hired Scully as part of that network's college football announcing team, and just months later, Scully joined Barber and Connie Desmond on the Brooklyn Dodgers broadcast team, in both the radio and television booths. In 1953, while filling in for Barber during the postseason (Barber was going through a salary dispute at the time), Scully became the youngest person to ever broadcast a World Series game (he was just 25 at the time).
When the Dodgers moved west to Los Angeles prior to the 1958 season, Scully went with them and was an instant hit in Southern California, which had never before had a major league team. Their first four seasons, the team played in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and many fans brought portable radios to the game so that the calls of Scully and broadcast partner Jerry Doggett might help them follow the action in the cavernous stadium.
The Yankees came calling in 1964, asking Scully to succeed Mel Allen as their play-by-play man, but Scully declined, opting instead to remain in Southern California with the Dodgers, where he has been a mainstay ever since.
Though Scully continued to call other sports events, including NFL games, for much of his career, he is almost universally associated in the minds of fans with the Dodgers and the National Pastime. His career awards are legion, including the Ford Frick Award from the National Baseball Hall of Fame, a Life Achievement Emmy Award and a 1995 induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame. He even has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Among the on-field highlights that Scully has called are:
Scully's life has not been without its trials. His first wife, Joan, and his eldest son, Michael, both died tragically, but Scully has credited his faith with helping him deal with the tough times. "The tough moments are when you need God the most," Scully told the National Catholic Register in 2013. "He’s always there and more than happy to give us his help; we need only ask for it."
But now, after nearly 70 years behind the mic, Scully is calling it a career. He opted to say his farewells during the Dodgers' final regular-season game in San Francisco, feeling that an uncertain departure date during the playoffs might be a distraction for the National League West-leading Dodgers and their fans. He does not, Scully has said, want to "say goodbye 12 different times."
The Dodgers and their fans celebrated Scully during their final home series of the regular season against the Colorado Rockies with a three-day event entitled "Vin Scully Weekend." The festivities featured special tributes throughout the weekend, and the first 50,000 fans to arrive for "Vin Scully Appreciation Day" on Friday, September 23, received a letter of appreciation written by the broadcaster himself.
That evening's festivities also included a video tribute by Bob Costas and a lineup of special guests, including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Academy Award winner Kevin Costner, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred and Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax.
Scully's presence in the broadcast booth will clearly be missed by many. As Koufax put it, "It may sound corny, but I enjoyed listening to Vin [Scully] call a game almost more than playing in them. He's been a special broadcaster for a lot of years... He definitely is the All Century broadcaster, as far as I'm concerned."
Did you enjoy this story? Subscribe to Guideposts magazine.