There are some sensations that we are able to recall whenever we want. The smell of the ocean, the taste of a cheeseburger, grass in between your fingers. For me one of the most vivid sensations I will always have is Vin Scully calling a baseball game. The man who has been the Dodgers play-by-play announcer for the past 67 years retired last week at the age of 88.
Vin Scully finishes a remarkable career.
Scully started off his career at 22 years old, announcing games for the then Brooklyn Dodgers. He quickly rose to the top of his profession, becoming the youngest person to ever call a World Series at 25. Scully performed well enough in his first few years to survive an ownership change and stay with the team. Eight years later he moved with the team to Los Angeles, where they currently reside. From the first game he called to his last, Scully was the best announcer on the air. No one may ever have a career like him in any profession, being the best at what he did for 67 years.
There were so many things that made Scully special, but being an announcer you have to start with the voice. His voice is so warm and friendly, it is like he’s personally inviting you to watch the game. It was so pleasant to listen to that people would say that you could listen to him read off a grocery list and it would be great. So, a little while back he did just that and you could listen to it on repeat for hours. There was even a time when so many Dodger fans would bring radios to the game to hear his voice while watching it live that his voice could be heard throughout the stadium.
Play by play in baseball is harder than other sports because games can stretch on for three hours, and there is little action to announce that takes place in that time span. Vin made it pleasant to watch. His style of announcing was never one of bravioso. He didn’t yell when an amazing play was made or a home run was hit. He had excitement in his voice that translated to what the fans sitting at home were thinking, but it was still such a calm demeanor. Of course, if you do something as long as he did you would have to make some changes throughout your career. For Vin it was the his stories.
This is the part of his style that he might be remembered for the most at this point. After being on the job long enough he had accumulated enough stories for a lifetime. He had a story for every occasion, every player, every coach, even for umpires. Eventually, he started incorporating these into his broadcasts. These stories extended farther than the game of baseball, into people’s lives, and even his own.
As his career came to a close this past season he received praise from nearly everyone around the league. Players would make requests to come say hi to him when playing at Dodger Stadium, just to meet and chat with a legend. Other broadcasters would rave about him, commenting that if they were half as good as Scully at their job, they would be satisfied.
No one has ever had a bad word to say about him. While Scully will be missed by everyone around the MLB, those who will miss him the most are Dodger’s fans who invited him into their home every night for almost seven decades. They don’t know any other voice to call the games and it will certainly be a strange feeling hearing someone else on the microphone next season.
He was a hero in Los Angeles. The LA Times recently called him “the most important Dodger in Los Angeles history and second only behind Jackie Robinson in Dodger.” That should show how important he has been to this franchise. The team honored him in a pregame ceremony for his last home game this past week. In it he addressed the fans and thanked them for their years of support. But nobody needed Scully to thank them, they wanted to thank him. He tried to downplay it but he knew how important it was for them.
He started his speech with his iconic sign on, “Hi everybody, and a very pleasant good evening to you, wherever you may be.” The crowd roared. He followed that by saying, “What? It’s just little old me,” always one to be humble. That got Dodger Stadium as loud as it has ever been. Fans were in tears watching him one last time.
The Dodgers franchise will always have the contributions he made. He was their star off the field for so long. When they open the season next year and the new announcer signs on it won’t feel the same, but fans everywhere will never forget the voice of Vin Scully.
Willy may be reached at