I grew up in Southern California rooting for the Dodgers and listening to Vin Scully on the radio. What is unfathomable is that other people can also say that who were born in seven different decades. Vin is retiring after broadcasting for the same team for sixty-seven years.
Back when black and white was called TV and the channels were numbered two to thirteen and AM radio was called….. radio, Vin was the voice. I had a small radio in my room and I listened to scratchy top 40 rock and roll on KHJ 930 during the day and Dodger baseball at night.
Of course I was oblivious to what an outstanding broadcaster we had in Vin Scully. His lyrical voice would paint the pictures of the sun setting from Chavez Ravine and the men contesting for glory on the diamond.
He seemed as happy to share the games with me as I was to soak them up from him. He was a consummate professional and through his conduct and words he imparted a reverence for the game and a humanity that transcended sport.
He was never one to seek glory or insert himself into the situation. In my mind his greatest call was of a walk off home run at Dodger stadium. He relayed the count and the pitch and the hit. Referring to the opposing outfielder by name he said, “He’s going back, back, to the wall, if it clears the Dodgers win.” Then he turned the microphone to the field and let the roar of the crowd tell the story. It seemed at least half a minute before he spoke again.
Soon after I moved to Seattle I attended a Mariner game in the Kingdome. I was appalled at the carnival atmosphere that I encountered. Let’s dwell on that a second. A still-young guy from west coast hip-central in Southern California comes to old school Ballard-flavored Seattle only to be shocked by what felt like a lack of respect for the game. Beach balls were bouncing around in the stands and the music they played was not the same as Helen O’Dell at the Wurlitzer Organ in Dodger stadium. This wasn’t the baseball I grew up with.
Over the years I would occasionally catch a game Vin Scully was calling. At times it was a playoff game broadcast into my home or a Dodger game when I was on business travel in southern California. Hearing his voice and his cadence of calling a game was a table piled high with comfort food. It was like finding your favorite pair of jeans (that still fit) after having been lost for two years.
His legacy is more than baseball and more than his humanity. His legacy is the decency and kindness he instilled into generations of listeners just by being himself. Thanks Vin.