By Glen Sparks
He has broadcast 19 no-hitters, or about eight percent of the big league no-no’s thrown since 1901. He called Don Larsen’s perfect game in 1956 and Clayton Kershaw’s near-perfecto in 2014.
He rolled out the words to best describe Johnny Podres’ shutout in the 1955 World Series, the game that gave Brooklyn its only World Series championship. He told listeners about Henry Aaron’s record-breaking 715th home run in 1974, and Kirk Gibson’s Game 1 “impossible” home run in the 1988 Series, belted off Dennis Eckersley into the right-field pavilion of Dodger Stadium “in a year that has been so improbable.”
This afternoon, Vin Scully begins his 66th season broadcasting Dodger baseball. He started working for the team in 1950, just out of Fordham University in New York. He stood tall and lean with a thick set of wavy red hair atop his head. He was a 23-year-old doing exactly what he wanted to do.
Scully grew up in Manhattan, a Giants fan. Listening to sports on the radio at home inspired young Vincent. In fact, as an eight-year-old, he wrote an essay for the grammar school nuns, informing them of his career choice. The other boys could be policemen or firemen. He would be a sports announcer.
Vin sang in a barbershop quartet at Fordham, played centerfield for the Fordham Rams baseball team and called games on the campus radio station. WTOP, a Washington, D.C., station, hired him out of college; the legendary Red Barber asked him a short time later to call Dodger games. Or, rather, to be the No. 3 man in a three-man booth (behind Barber and Connie Desmond).
Scully left with the Dodgers for Los Angeles in 1958. He broadcast the first game played in L.A., at the Coliseum, on April 18, 1958. Fans listened to him describe the action for World Series winners in 1959, 1963, 1965, 1981 and 1988. In the summer of 1968, Scully guided his loyal audience through Don Drysdale’s 58 2/3 scoreless-inning streak; 20 years later, he did the same for Orel Hershiser’s streak that lasted one out longer.
National audiences caught Scully through the years doing golf and pro football. He was behind the mic when Joe Montana completed his most famous touchdown pass to Dwight Clark, Jan. 10, 1982, in the NFC Championship Game.
“Montana … looking, looking, throwing into the endzone. … Clark caught it! Dwight Clark! … It’s a madhouse at Candlestick.”
From 1983-89, Scully teamed with Joe Garagiola on NBC’s baseball Game of the Week. He was already a member of the broadcaster’s wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame at that point, honored with the Ford Frick Award in 1982.
Scully will be calling Dodger home games this season for SportsNet LA, along with west coast road games. I plan to link to some articles about Vin and some of his broadcasting highlights over the next several months. (You also can read a previous Vin Scully article that I wrote.)
If you haven’t already, please take some time to become more familiar with this legend of the game. He has a voice full of easy melody, still with a touch of New York. He fills the time between pitches with great stories, both touching and humorous. Not surprisingly, he doesn’t make a big deal about his meticulous preparation. “One of the biggest reasons that I prepare is because I don’t want to seem like a horse’s fanny,” he said in Jon Weisman’s book 100 Things Dodgers Fans Should Know and Do before They Die.
As Vin Scully gets closer to the end of his brilliant career, it might be wise to recall what he once said when one of baseball’s top players suffered a minor injury.
“Andre Dawson has a bruised knee and is listed as day-to-day. (Pause) Aren’t we all?”