One of the Wonders of Major League Baseball--Vin Scully
If you love baseball, and were lucky enough to have lived in Los Angeles some time in the past 60 years, then you are familiar with one of the great radio voices to have ever called the game of baseball. I'm speaking of Mr. Vincent Edward Scully, of course, better know as Vin Scully, the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Scully, now a youthful 93, spent 67 years broadcasting Dodger games, moving with the franchise from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958. He is widely regarded as one of the best announcers in baseball history.
Unlike many baseball broadcasters, Scully refrained from rooting for the home team, indeed, it was difficult to realize just which team employed him to call the game. To Scully, it was the play on the field that mattered, everything else was secondary, including which team actually won the game. He also made it a habit not to clutter up the airwaves with an endless patter of statistics, as did several of his peers. About the use of statistics, Scully said: "Statistics are used much like a drunk uses a lamp post: for support, not illumination." Instead, Scully would weave innings-long tales as the game played out. At this, he was without peer, and became known as baseball's poet laureate.
"If Vinny was telling a story, I would just stop in the driveway and let the car idle, because I had to hear the rest of the story" said Al Michael, who announces football games for NBC sports.
About growing up in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, and becoming interested in broadcasting games, he said: "I would come home and listen to a football game — there weren't other sports on — and I would get a pillow and I would crawl under the radio, so that the loudspeaker and the roar of the crowd would wash all over me, and I would just get goose bumps like you can't believe. And I knew that of all the things in this world that I wanted, I wanted to be that fella saying, whatever, home run, or touchdown. It just really got to me."
When Scully began calling Dodger games in 1950, the resident broadcaster in the Brooklyn Stadium radio booth, was legendary Red Barber. The two had much in common: both were redheads, both were born storytellers, and both spoke flawless English. It was Barber who taught Scully to be absolutely neutral when calling a game, so the audience would never suspect which team he might be pulling for. He also taught Scully the art of understatement, and not to pass judgement on the action on the field. If a fight broke out in a game, Barber said, it was the announcer's job to report exactly what he saw, and nothing more.
While Scully never let on which team he favored while on the air, he did admit that calling the 1963 World Series was his all-time favorite moment in baseball, when the Dodgers swept the dreaded Yankees, four games to none.
During Scully's nearly seven decade in the broadcast both, he witnessed some of baseball's most historical moments: three Sandy Koufax no-hitters, one Sandy Koufax perfect game, one Don Larsen perfect game, and Hank Aaron's 715th Career Home Run.
Scully remained loyal to the Dodger organization for the length of his career. However, he was offered a number of big buck contracts by rival organizations, including one by the New York Yankees, which he declined. Scully did accept an offer by NBC television to call their Saturday Game of the Week (1983 to 1989), as well as three World Series (1984, 1986, and 1988), and four All-Star Games (1983, 1985, 1987, and 1989).
From 1975 to 1982, Scully announced National Football League telecasts for CBS Sports. Scully also contributed to the network's tennis and PGA Tour golf coverage in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Early in his career, Scully even hosted a local game show on Los Angeles television.
Scully was such a star in Los Angeles, that he was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It was placed there on June 9, 1982 — the same year he was enshrined at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
"Andre Dawson has a bruised knee and is listed as day-to day (pause). Aren't we all?" (on-air radio broadcast, 1991)
"As long as you live keep smiling because it brightens everybody's day."
"Football is to baseball as blackjack is to bridge. One is the quick jolt. The other the deliberate, slow-paced game of skill, but never was a sport more ideally suited to television than baseball. It's all there in front of you. It's theatre, really. The star is the spotlight on the mound, the supporting cast fanned out around him, the mathematical precision of the game moving with the kind of inevitability of Greek tragedy. With the Greek chorus in the bleachers!" Source: Los Angeles Times (June 20, 1976)
"He (pitcher Tom Glavine) is like a tailor; a little off here, a little off there & you're done, take a seat."
"I really love baseball. The guys and the game, and I love the challenge of describing things."
"Radio means freedom. You have the radio on and you can paint the garage. With television, it's a commitment. Radio is your associate--you have it with you and you're listening while you're doing something else. Television, you're saying, You're the the boss. I can't leave while you're on."
Personal note: As much as I loved listening to Vin Scully while living in Los Angeles, I was also a California Angels fan, which meant I was often torn between listening to Scully's poetical broadcast of the Dodgers, or listening to the cool precision of Dick Enberg and Don Drysdale calling Angels' games (note: unlike Scully, Enberg and Drysdale did not stay with their team; Enberg would go on to broadcast professional football games for NBC sports, while Drysdale would go to join Scully in the Dodgers broadcast booth).