Memories of Vince Scully
We learned that Vince Scully passed away. He was 94 and retired from the microphone a few years ago. I remember a college professor who told me that the Dodgers had changed coasts, the letter on their cap from B to LA, and added the names of the players to the uniforms, but Vince Scully was always the voice of the team.
Though born in the Bronx, near Yankee Stadium, in that epochal year of 1927 and eventually associated with the Dodgers, Scully grew up a New York Giants fan. He would emulate the batting stance of his favorite player, Mel Ott. But as early as age 8, Scully knew that he wanted to announce games even more than he wanted to play in them.
Fordham-educated and Navy-trained, Scully got into broadcasting at just 22 years old, and he did so by making an impression on a man who had been a major influence. Scully was a fill-in at WTOP in Washington, D.C., when one day a message was left for him at his parents' home. His mother relayed it.
"Red Skelton called!"
Actually, it was Red Barber, who was heading CBS network sports and looking for a backup voice for "College Football Roundup."
And the rest is history, as they say. He was a natural on the radio and eventually made it to the Brooklyn Dodgers.
My memories of Vince Scully are about the post-season. I did not live in the Los Angeles area so did not hear him call Dodgers games. It was in the post-season when I heard his unique style of calling a baseball game. Always had the feeling that Vince had scored a 100 on his grammar tests.
I remember the 1974 World Series, when the Dodgers played the Oakland A's. He was talking about players' salaries and spoke about the new reality of the game. He said something like the losers' wives wear mink coats these days. He meant that the losers would get a nice check, too.
Later, I went out of my way to research some of his top calls, such as Sandy Koufax's perfect game in 1965:
It is 9:46 p.m. Two and two to Harvey Kuenn, one strike away. Sandy into his windup, here's the pitch. Swung on and missed, a perfect game!
Then there was Kirk Gibson coming off the bench and hitting a walk off home run in Game One of the 1988 World Series. He seemed surprised that Gibson would come to the plate and then couldn't contain his emotions when he went around the bases.
Scully was a natural, a legend, and something out of a time when people got their baseball on the radio. He was good on TV as well and would call the game and tell you a story at the same time. Of course, I did not get to hear those nightly telecasts, but have enjoyed going back and listening to his many recordings, such as Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series.
I bet he and Red Barber are calling one heck of a game up in heaven. Rest in peace, Mr. Scully.