Tagged: Vin Scully

Pull Up a Chair for Vin Scully’s Final Season in the Booth

Vin Scully begins his 67th season broadcasting Dodgers Games.

Vin Scully begins his 67th season broadcasting Dodgers Games.

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?”

Happy Birthday, Don Drysdale

Source/Don Drysdale won 209 games in his career and hit 154 batters.

Source/Don Drysdale won 209 games in his career and hit 154 batters.

(I would love to have seen Don Drysdale pitch a baseball game. The big right-hander from southern California would have turned 79 years old today. I hope this post does him justice. I tried to channel the legendary Los Angeles Times writer Jim Murray a bit.)

By Glen Sparks

Don Drysdale turned an at-bat into nasty business. He stood six-feet, six-inches and hurled 95 mph sidearm heat. The Dodgers right-hander struck out 2,486 batters in his 14-year career and hit 154.

You’ve heard of an uncomfortable 0-for-4? Drysdale was a terrifying 0-for-4. Drysdale liked to talk about his 2-for-1 policy. You hit one of my guys, he’d say, I’ll hit two of your guys. Drysdale didn’t like to issue intentional walks. He’d rather drill the guy and save three pitches.

He glared at hitters the way a drill instructor glares at buck privates. He looked like a tiger in need of a steak. He squinted in for the sign like a great white shark squints to find a lonely surfer.

Batting against Drysdale was like a day at the beach. On jellyfish day. He hit guys like Joe Louis hit pikers from Palookaville.

Drysdale hailed from Van Nuys, Calif., born July 23, 1936, a Valley boy from a different time. He probably scared off half the kids from North Hollywood and Sherman Oaks. The Brooklyn Dodgers signed him in 1954 for $4,000 and $600 a month.

The Dodgers promoted him to the big club in 1956, a 19-year-old, all arms, legs and fastball. He promptly went 5-5 with a 2.64 ERA (152 ERA+) in 99 innings. The kid was good. The next year, he went 17-9 with a 2.69 ERA (153 ERA+).

Going Back to Cali

In 1958, the Dodgers moved to L.A. The California boy went home. In 1959, he won 17 games and led the Dodgers to a World Series title against the Chicago White Sox. His 242 strikeouts were the most by a National League pitcher in 35 years.

Over the next decade, Drysdale solidified his Hall of Fame career. He only led the National League in wins once, but he led it in strikeouts three times. No. 53 struck out a career high 251 in 1963. He topped the 200 strikeout mark six times.

Drysdale and Sandy Koufax made a magnificent 1-2 combo. Koufax, left-handed and elegant, Drysdale, right-handed and fierce. They started games in the warm twilight at Dodger Stadium, hurling unhittable pitches fired into sunlight and shadow. For opposing line-ups, it was more like a California nightmare than a California dream.

In 1962, Drysdale won 25 games and took home the Cy Young Award. He finished fifth in the MVP voting. Big D and Koufax led the Dodgers to World Series championships in ‘63 and 1965. They didn’t get much help from the offense. The Dodger attack was about as scary as your cousin Sissy’s pet beagle. The Dodgers made it home about as often as Robinson Caruso.

(Supposedly true story, probably apocryphal: On June 4, 1964, Drysdale lost an 11-inning game against the Philadelphia Phillies in which he gave up just four hits. He then left the team to take care of some personal business in Washington, D.C. On June 5, unbeknownst to Drysdale, Koufax threw a no-hitter. Some guy at the hotel told the big guy. Drysdale: “Did we win?”)

Drysdale probably put up his best year in 1964. He compiled an 18-16 record, but he tagged a 2.18 ERA (147 ERA+) onto that over 321.1 innings, a career-high. He gave up an average of just 6.8 hits per 9 innings, a career low.

In 1968, in his next-to-last season, Drysdale set a Major League record. He threw 58 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings and put up a 2.15 ERA (128 ERA+). And, if threw a few extra spitballs that year, well, then so be it. He wasn’t the only one.

PM800 photo/This is the game ball that Drysdale used to record the final out in his record scoreless streak in 1968.

PM800 photo/This is the game ball that Drysdale used to record the final out in his record scoreless streak in 1968.

Big D started off 5-4 in 1969 with a 4.45 ERA. His strong right shoulder had thrown enough. He called a press conference, shed some tears and said he was done. Drysdale, the L.A. guy who looked a movie star, retired with a 209-166 record and a 2.95 ERA (121 ERA+). No. 53 tossed 49 shutouts and hit 29 home runs. He took the ball every game and led the league in starts from 1962-65. He made eight All-Star teams.

Retired from playing, Drysdale turned to broadcasting. He called games for a number of teams including his beloved Dodgers. The writers finally voted him into the Hall of Fame in 1984.

On July 3, 1993, Drysdale died of a heart attack at his hotel room in Montreal, hours before a game that evening between the Dodgers and Expos. Vin Scully announced his death over the radio. He began it this way: “”Friends, we’ve known each other a long time, and I’ve had to make a lot of announcements, some more painful than others. But never have I ever been asked to make an announcement that hurts me as much as this one. And I say it to you as best I can with a broken heart.”

Reporters asked Tommy LaSorda, the Dodger manager, a long-time friend and former teammate of Drysdale’s, for a comment. There’s Tommy sitting on a stool, his uniform top partly unbuttoned, the bags heavy beneath his eyes, his eyes tearing up, his voice trying to stay strong. He looks up at the camera. He says this of Drysdale: “He was a man’s man.”

Drysdale stands out today as a legendary pitcher from a tougher, by-gone era in baseball, one of inside fastballs and black-and-blue rib cages. Orlando Cepeda said the trick to an at bat against Drysdale was this: “Hit him before he hits you.”

Donald Scott Drysdale, you were one tough pitcher.

Scully Tells One about Satch and a “Wild Child”

Vin Scully began broadcasting Dodger baseball games in 1950.

Vin Scully began broadcasting Dodger baseball games in 1950.

By Glen Sparks

Rick Sutcliffe made a great +point while covering a recent game on ESPN. Vin Scully is not simply a great baseball broadcaster, Sutcliffe said. The long-time voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers is one of the greatest broadcasters, period, he said.

The great Satchel Paige

The great Satchel Paige

The story that Scully told about the immortal Satchel Paige winning a bottle of booze from a young Whitey Herzog (“Wild Child”), his Miami Marlins teammate, helps make the case. Vin relayed a fun episode from the past that still delights today.

Listen to this one and enjoy.

(Sidenote: Paige played for the Marlins, then of the International League, for three seasons. He went 11-4 in 1956 with a 1.86 ERA. The following year, he was 10-8 with a 2.42 ERA. In 1958, he finished 10-10 but with a still-admirable 2.95 ERA. By then, he was 51 years old. Or, thereabouts. You never quite knew with Leroy “Stachel” Paige.

“It’s Time for Dodger baseball. …” Scully Begins Year No. 66

Vin Scully began broadcasting Dodger baseball games in 1950.

Vin Scully began broadcasting Dodger baseball games in 1950.

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?”

Vin Scully Still Talks the Dodger Talk

By Glen Sparks

Vin Scully has broadcast Dodger baseball for the last 65 seasons.

Vin Scully has broadcast Dodger baseball for the last 65 seasons.

“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.