Vin Scully, a baseball legend among legends, passed away earlier this week at the age of 94. Like millions of other Angelenos and grateful fans around the world, I am deeply grateful to have enjoyed his magnificent voice for so many years. And there’s a travel angle too: it nearly bankrupted him early in his career.
Remembering Vin Scully, a baseball legend and personal hero
Ask any LA Dodgers fan about Vin Scully and they will tell you their story. Everyone has a story. Mine is not that different from many others. My grandfather, a huge fan of the Dodgers (if they win), introduced him to me from an early age. Before every game aired on TV, we’d tune into Vin Scully on her big stereo radio in his lair and just listen.
From an early age I recognized her compelling voice and remarkable eloquence.
My grandfather took my brother and me to Dodgers games and he brought the radio, like so many other fans, and we chewed peanuts and listened to Vin while we watched the game. His voice was synonymous with summer and the innocence of youth and the bonds that unite us.
Vin Scully has brought together a different city. What has always struck me when I have attended the Dodgers games is that the fans were as diverse as the city. There were no blacks, browns and whites … just blue: Dodgers fans joined in cheering for their team. Scully’s clairvoyance united communities and encouraged a more perfect union by modeling the virtues of benevolence, kindness, and a subtle yet powerful celebration of progress.
Like when Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1974:
“What a wonderful time for baseball. What a wonderful time for Atlanta and the state of Georgia. What a wonderful time for the country and for the world. A black man is receiving a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking the record for an all-time baseball idol.
As I grew up, I appreciated her golden voice more and more and her amazing ability to accomplish anything interesting. My adolescence was marked by a fervent following of the Los Angeles Dodgers. I would come home from school, turn on the VCR, and play my VHS recording of 1988 World Series Game 1 over and over again. Scully’s call from Gibson’s ninth inning, winning home run keeps giving me goosebumps.
“Ball flying high towards the deep right field. She went!”
And then a break. A long pause. The perfect break. So we could all take it and even from my living room 25 years after the fact, I could hear the beat of Dodger Stadium.
And then this:
“In a year that was so unlikely, the impossible happened.”
Something that Vin and I shared
Unfortunately I never got the chance to meet him. I’ve always dreamed of it … but time, like a constantly moving river, takes away all his children. Scully was born in 1927 and started broadcasting in 1950, still 22 years old. The childish stages of this blog, then in the form of a podcast, started for me at the age of 22 as well and in all sincerity I hope to be as much as Scully. Scully was natural from the start… I hope to learn from him and others and grow better in my role as a communicator. But she saw her chosen calling as a high calling, as I do whenever she posts a story with my name on it.
Vin Scully and the journey
Oh yeah, and the travel angle. Vin’s father was a traveling salesman. He died when Scully was only four years old. My other grandfather died when my father was seven. He also grew up without a father and I am so thankful that my father saw me grow up and is still with us today.
I wonder what would have happened, though, if Scully’s father had lived? What if instead of hanging out with the radio at night, Scully went out with her father? What if you became a traveling salesman instead of a sports journalist? I’m sure she would have been hugely successful, but the world may never have heard her voice of her.
Scully was a man after my own heart, preferring only to do her job (called games) and not the mundane paperwork that sometimes accompanies it. Early in his career, he nearly went bankrupt because he repeatedly failed to fill out his expense reports. He reminds me of someone … * cough *.
Vin came out on top of her game, which few people are so lucky to do. You never want to retire too soon, but you also don’t want to stay too long and lose him somehow from the stand (like dear former Lakers broadcast Chick Hearn, who is another hero of mine but probably stayed on board a couple of seasons too long).
In her later years, Vin stopped traveling with the team, first traveling only to the Western states and finally only to California. He also reduced the number of innings he made on the radio … simultaneous broadcasts are much more difficult because dead air is harder on the radio (not that dead air was a problem for Vin, but it took a lot longer effort).
It is a reminder that we will slow down too and that we should enjoy our ability to travel now.
I am so thankful for Vin Scully and her impact on my life. Indeed, she has impacted millions of people, bringing Los Angeles together and elevating our discourse through her life’s work. By losing Vin, we have lost a great treasure.
top image: LA Dodgers