By Glen Sparks
“It’s time for Dodger baseball.”
I started listening to Vin Scully as a boy growing up in southern California during the glory days of the transistor radio. Vin, along with Jerry Doggett, broadcast the Dodger action on KABC AM-790. (Am I dating myself, or what? No matter, it was a lot of fun. And if once in a while you didn’t take that transistor radio to bed with you and turn it on after the lights went out, it didn’t count.)
A reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle caught up with Scully during a road trip late in the season. Smartly, the reporter let the broadcaster do the talking. John Shea’s article includes several great quotes from Vin about his childhood in New York City and how Red Skelton–no, Red Barber–offered him a job. (Read the article.)
Scully just concluded his 65th season calling Dodger games. Yes, he plans to return in 2015, God willing. Fans can look forward to at least one more summer of listening to the Voice of the Dodgers tell great baseball stories from yesterday and today.
“In a year of the improbable, the impossible has happened.” – following Kirk Gibson’s home run off Dennis Eckersley in 1988.
Vin Scully is not just a broadcaster. He is a baseball encyclopedia. But, really, he is more than that. What encyclopedia boasts a such a cheery voice and a keen writer’s sense for just the right word? He is baseball’s great oral historian.
“Andre Dawson has a bruised knee and is listed as day-to-day. … Aren’t we all?”
Scully started out with the Dodgers in Brooklyn in 1950, the No. 3 man on a three-man broadcast team, behind Barber and Connie Desmond. He called games at Ebbets Field, out in Flatbush, Jackie Robinson stealing home and Duke Snider blasting a home run over the Schaefer beer sign in right field, onto Bedford Avenue. He still talks about Pee Wee, the captain, and about Campy, the good-natured catcher who liked to say, “you have to have a lot of little boy in you to play this game.” Scully broadcast Brooklyn’s only World Series title, in 1955, when, the romantics like to say, “even the moon turned blue.”
This is a great Vin Scully stat: He has called 19 no-hitters, or 7 percent of all no-no’s since 1901. Among them, the Sandy Koufax perfect game, Sept. 9, 1965, against the Cubs at Dodger Stadium. Koufax struck out 14 batters, including the final six.
“Two and two to Harvey Kuenn … Sandy into his windup. Here’s the pitch: swing on and missed, a pefect game!”
Vin Scully is 86 years old. He met Babe Ruth, idolized Mel Ott and played outfield in a college baseball game with first baseman George H.W. Bush in the opposing dugout. Some lucky listeners still remember him from his days in Brooklyn. Others picked him up somewhere else along the way. For many of us, he remains a red-haired link between childhood and now.