Remembering Vin Scully
Vin Scully was the voice for six generations of baseball fans, including mine.
Baseball greats have come and gone and more will do the same. Though we will contemplate their greatness, there are a few that resonate with us for one reason or another. Growing up in the tiny town of Mariposa, California, we had the Saturday Major League Baseball Game of the Week on KCRA or KSEE. And, if you positioned the radio just right in the summer months, you could get 720 KDWN out of Las Vegas. When airplanes weren’t interrupting the ability of the radio waves to travel over the Sierra Nevada Mountain range you could hear the slightly nasally, always friendly voice of an old family friend, Vin Scully, calling the Dodgers games.
No, he wasn’t actually a friend of the family, and I never met the man. But it sure seemed like he was. Every night, he would tell you a story of the Dodgers: their hopes, their dreams, their weaknesses and their successes. Along the way, he got to call the occasional World Series appearance and perfect game. And though those were special, they get lost in the 122 years of the modern game. But some of the moments will never be lost. He is on record as the announcer of some of the greatest moments in sports history: Bill Buckner’s whiff in ’86.
“It gets through Buckner!” Perfect. Simple. Classic.
That call was instant. Two years later, after his voice caught ever so much with “…gone!” as Kirk Gibson’s homer entered the right field seats in the bottom of the ninth in Game 1 of the World Series. Scully then waited…68 seconds… before tossing out this, “In a year that has been so improbable… the impossible has happened.“
Eloquent. Inciteful. Also…classic.
He was passionate. He was. He was also just so classy about it. The Dodgers were awful in the late 80’s and early 90’s. He couldn’t yell, “Franklin Stubbs sucks!” I could…and did, aiming my frustration at Stubbs or Mike Marshall or Jose Offerman or whichever reliever gave up another lead. Vin didn’t do that. But he could tell you what Stubbs was working on or why he was struggling. I didn’t understand that Vin was also saying, “Franklin Stubbs sucks!”…but in a much nicer way.
He was what I wanted to be.
I never made it that far in my announcing career. I called some minor league games and some college ball. I’m still happy calling the occasional high school championship contest, in no small part because I get to do what Vin Scully did…just not as well.
I ran around my living room in 1988 screaming for joy as my father muttered something about how the Mets were the better team that year. Gibson and Vin brought joy to my life. It was absolutely the happiest I had ever been, up until my wedding day and the births of my children.
Now, I hear the call again and I smile. I note how he let Joe Garagiola deliver one great line after another about Gibson’s injuries while responding with one great line after another of his own. But now the tears come too. Because I know there will never be another chance for the man to deliver something so pure, so classic, so perfect. He was a joy to witness and to hear…a man who loved what he did. And I loved to listen to him enjoying himself so much.
News of his death at 94 means he is “…gone.” I’m sad. I’m thankful. I’m thinking of a way to honor him.
I think he would appreciate each of us taking the next 68 seconds to think about how we can make the people in our lives a little happier as a result of our being here.
It’s the best gift we could give the man who gave us so much.
Thanks Vin and to all of you…wherever you may be.