The pitch misses outside, evening the count to 2-2. “Deuces wild,” is the call from Joe Davis. Then from about two spots over on the couch, my dad pipes up, “That’s Vin’s call.”
In a way, I get where he’s coming from. Vin Scully transcended being an icon in baseball history. He was instead a mythic figure, not in a literal sense, but in the sense that a man was blessed with such god-given talent and found the proper outlets to share that talent with the world. A man whose descriptions of the game were so transcendent that it was often better than watching it at the stadium with your own two eyes. A man who is the reason so many people went from being fans to falling in love with baseball. I know that’s one of the reasons I love this beautiful game so much.
In a way, there was no more perfect place for a baseball legend to be born than in the Bronx in 1927, as the Yankees were in the middle of one of their many dynastic runs. Scully became a baseball fan at the age of 8 when he saw the 18-4 final of the previous day’s World Series game and felt profound sympathy for the badly defeated New York Giants. This was the first of many fortunate breaks the baseball world would get in the next few years. The next would be the advantages that Vin’s neighborhood provided, as he lived near the Polo Grounds and was able to attend games for free due to being a member NYC Police Athletic League and the Catholic Youth Organization. This led the young Vin Scully to become a fan of the then New York Giants.
Vin got his start in broadcasting at Fordham University as he helped to found the school’s FM radio station, where he would call the school’s baseball, basketball, and football games. After graduating, Vin sent over 150 letters to radio stations all over the country. He would only get one response from WTOP in Washington D.C. as a fill-in. He still did enough to impress another legend of announcing in Red Barber, who recruited Scully for CBS radio’s college football coverage. After a strong broadcast of a Maryland vs. Boston University game where Scully broadcast from the roof of a particularly frigid Fenway Park without a jacket. Despite the freezing cold, Vin did not complain once on the broadcast; this impressed Red Barber, who brought Scully on to Dodger broadcasts the following season and would also mentor the young Scully as well.
Scully and the Dodgers
His time with the Dodgers is where Vin would go on to make his largest impact. Scully was quickly a hit with fans everywhere, as within three years of taking that job he would go on to be the youngest person to ever broadcast a World Series at the age of 25 – a record that will stand the test of time. The next year, Vin would take over as the full-time Dodgers announcer from Red Barber in 1954.
While numerous stories will be poured out over the next few days, there are two small ones that I think some up Vin Scully as an announcer and what Vin Scully meant to baseball fans.
Try as I might, I can’t remember the circumstances of this moment or why I remember this moment, but looking back I’m glad I do. The best I can recall it is a Dodgers-Diamondbacks game at Chase Field, the batter fouls one straight back and it hits the umpire square in the mask. The umpire then takes a few steps back and everyone wishes the best for him. The trainers step out to make sure that he’s okay, and as seamlessly he would transition from a base hit to a story, Vin transitioned into telling us the umpire’s story. The story was told with the same passion and gravitas that he would use for any player. It goes to show the deference that Vin had for the game – he wanted to make sure that the Umpires, people who often draw the ire of every fanbase in baseball, were treated with just as much respect as the players whose jerseys we wore and hoped to emulate someday.
Fanbases often want to have star players as bobbleheads to add to their collection. All of the talent that has passed through the Dodgers organization since I truly became a fan in 2007 has resulted in me receiving the bobbleheads of a lot of great players. Name such as Clayton Kershaw, Manny Ramirez, Mookie Betts, Adrian Gonzalez, and not to mention all the legendary former players that have worn the iconic Dodger Blue. Yet no bobblehead garnered as much anticipation as when, after years of pleading from the fanbase, the organization finally acquiesced and released a Vin Scully bobblehead to be given away to the first 50,000 fans that arrived at Chavez Ravine. I have been to a lot of bobblehead nights, yet I have never seen people hold onto a bobblehead as tightly as they were holding on to those Vin Scully bobbleheads. He was a part of our lives and for us to have a bobblehead of his was something we had always longed for. The organization knew this too as it is far and away the best quality bobblehead that I’ve ever received from the Dodgers and perhaps the best bobblehead that they’ll ever give out.
I don’t think I or any other fan of the LA Dodgers can properly express what Vin Scully means to us. Seeing all the outpouring of support from everyone all over the baseball world has been so touching. The ceremonial first pitch of game 2 of the 2017 World Series is one of those moments that shows the love the fans have for Vin Scully. The roar of the crowd when he is announced, and the almost immediate silence when he started speaking. Looking back now what happens next is the perfect representation of the city’s love for Vin. He asks for a catcher to catch his ceremonial first pitch, and as he asks for the catcher, the crowd will not stop chanting, “Scully, Scully, Scully,” even as he says, “I don’t need a Scully. I need a catcher,”
I can go on all day about my love for Vin Scully, but I feel myself rambling. Let’s get back to this one . . .
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