By Glen Sparks
He got the job in 1950. Obviously, he liked it. Vin Scully, 88 years old and still working solo in the booth, today begins his 67tth—and final—season broadcasting Dodgers baseball games.
His career weaves through a huge chunk of the team’s history, from the era of Robinson and Reese to Koufax and Drysdale, from Garvey-Lopes-Russell-and-Cey, to Fernandomania, the miracle of 1988 and the greatness of Clayton Kershaw.
“It’s time for Dodger baseball.”
Scully started working for the team as a 23-year-old, just out of Fordham University in New York City. He stood tall and lean with a thick set of wavy red hair atop his head. The great Red Barber talked to him about the craft.
No broadcaster has spent as many consecutive seasons with one team as Scully. His voice fills living rooms, Dodger Stadium and the long drive home. And, he never sounded better than he did on an old-fashioned transistor radio.
Dick Enberg, a great broadcaster himself, once said, “At times I’ll be listening to him and I’ll think, ‘Oh, I wish I could call upon that expression the way he does.’ He paints the picture more beautifully than anyone who’s ever called a baseball game.”
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 University, played center field for the Rams, and called games on the campus radio station. WTOP, a Washington, D.C., station, hired him out of college; Barber asked him a short time later to call Brooklyn Dodgers 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.
The legendary broadcaster may be most famous for a game he called Sept. 9, 1965, at Dodger Stadium against the Chicago Cubs. Sandy Koufax, in all his mighty glory, hurled the fourth no-hitter of his career and the sixth perfect game of the 20th century. The left-hander struck out 14 Cubs, including the final six. Scully’s ninth-inning account of that game is printed in many collections of great sports writing. It is a great piece of broadcasting and reporting. Scully didn’t miss a detail.
“Sandy backs off, mops his forehead, runs his left index finger along his forehead, dries it off on his left pants leg. All the while (Harvey) Kuenn just waiting. Now, Sandy looks in. Into his windup and the two-one pitch to Kuenn: swung on and missed, strike two. It is 9:46 p.m. … Two and two to Harvey Kuenn, one strike away.”
National audiences caught Scully doing golf and pro football. He stood 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 describe Dodgers home games this year for SportsNet LA, along with a handful of west coast road games. (The Dodgers start the 2016 season at 4:05 Pacific Time on the road today against the San Diego Padres. Scully plans to be calling the game at Petco Park.)
If you haven’t already, take some time to learn more about this legend of the game. Scully boasts a voice filled with easy melody, still with a touch of New York. He tells stories, both touching and humorous, between pitches, timed perfectly to the final out of an inning.
Famous for his humility and grace, 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 said after 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?”