It was a Venice beach, a Pink hot dog stand, and a Hollywood bowl all rolled into one. He was L.A., the sound of the summer, Poet Laureate of the Dodgers – Brooklyn and L.A. – for 67 seasons.
We knew Vin Scully wouldn’t last forever. It just seemed like he could. Even in retirement, years after his last broadcast in 2016, his presence remained omnipresent and ethereal, like ocean and air.
“There are two words to describe Vin: Babe Ruth,” said Charlie Steiner, Dodgers radio host since 2005 after moving west from the Yankees booth (2002-2004). “Best ever to do this. Babe Ruth will always be defined as a baseball player. Vin will always be remembered as the voice of baseball.”
The wild ride that was Tuesday’s major league bidding deadline suddenly and abruptly gave way to heaviness in the silence of that night when the Dodgers announced that Scully had died at age 94. endings. In recent months, Scully’s health had been deteriorating, and those who knew him well were preparing for a phone call. But when it did, it was still a punch in the gut.
“It doesn’t make it any easier because we lost a friend,” said Rick Monday, a former outfielder and longtime Dodgers broadcaster. “Whether we actually dated Vin Scully or not, he was our friend.”
Like a best friend, he was full of surprise, joy, humility and surprises.
“When I was in college, I wrote for The Times, so you’ve probably seen my byline,” Scully said impatiently, beginning this summer’s interview with The New York Times for the story of Gil Hodgesas if his days at Fordham University had just passed. “It says: ‘Special Correspondent of The Times.’ I was under an assumed name. Anyway, I just wanted you to know about my literary background.
On another occasion, late at night after an interleague game at Angel Stadium at the start of the 2013 season, some members of the media were waiting for an elevator in the press box to head home for the evening when Scully joined them to go downstairs. He wore a brace on his left arm and wrist, the result of an attack of tendonitis.
“I told someone earlier that I should just tell people that I’m interested in falconry and I’m waiting for a bird,” he said, smiling broadly. “That would be the best story, wouldn’t it?”
His instincts were perfect, and the joy of life is constant.
“He was so well-read,” Monday said. “He also spoke English. When you listened to Vin, you felt like you had to go back to school immediately. But he never talked down to anyone. He was amazing.”
In one of his last public appearances, Scully wrote a letter to the Baseball Hall of Fame Era Committee to support Hodges’ nomination to the Hall of Fame—a letter that was said to have had a major impact. But the ever humble Scully refused to believe that he had enough influence to sway voters, and more than that, he didn’t want any recognition.
“Even as I was writing this, I had my fingers crossed that it wasn’t made public to the point that all of a sudden I’m trying to be in the same spotlight because I didn’t want it at all,” Scully said this summer. . “Yes, I wrote the letter and it was true, to the best of my knowledge, in every aspect. But I don’t want to stop there.
“Now that I am retired, I am very sensitive. I just don’t want to do anything that might seem inappropriate.”
But Scully’s “place” was everywhere, a friend who was greeted by everyone, starting with his warm invitation at the beginning of each broadcast to “pull up a chair.” And over the course of nearly seven decades, from the mansions of Bel Air to the working-class districts of the Southland, he has built an incredible extended family on behalf of the Dodgers.
Munday grew up in Santa Monica, California with a single mother who fell in love with the Dodgers when they moved west in 1958. Every time they were in the car during a Dodgers game, Munday remembers Scully as their companion.
“His voice was like a gentle hand on our shoulder, saying, “Hey, everything will be fine.” Whatever is happening in the world, whatever is happening in your life, within the next three hours I will catch you,” Monday said. “That’s the feeling we had.”
Millions of other people have experienced similar emotions in those 67 years of Iron Man style.
“I was fascinated by this game, and even more so by Vin’s voice and the way he presented the game,” Monday said. “His description of the uniform, the pitch, how fast the guy was running, how hard the ball was hit, the jump catch. When Vin made a game, it wasn’t just the flow of the game, it was the spectacle of the game.”
Monday was number one. 1st overall pick in the 1965 first baseball amateur draft, drafted by the Athletics, who traded him to the Chicago Cubs before the 1972 season.
“So the Dodgers are finally going to Chicago and my mom can watch the game on TV,” Monday said. “This is my seventh year in big football and my mom heard Vin Scully mention my name. I said, “Mom, you didn’t even know I was in the big leagues until Vin mentioned my name.” She was laughing. It made it official.”
The Los Angeles Times Magazine in 1998 named Scully the most trusted person in Los Angeles. Eight years earlier, the late legendary Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray argued that Scully was the most important Dodger of all. Since then, little has changed.
“Vincent Edward Scully meant as much, if not more, to the Dodgers than any .300 hitter they’ve ever signed, any 20-game winner they’ve ever fielded,” Murray wrote in column published in August 1990. home plate and hit the home run that turned the season into a miracle, but he knew what to do with it to make it echo through the ages.”
When Kirk Gibson beat Oakland’s Dennis Eckersley on that home run, setting the tone for the Dodgers’ loss to Oakland in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, Scully exclaimed, “In what was an incredible year, the impossible happened!”
For one minute and eight seconds he remained silent, letting the roaring crowd at Dodger Stadium fill the TV speakers. The echoes continue to this day.
His sense of time, history and moment was impeccable in any case.
“He was more than just an announcer,” Steiner said. “He was not just a baseball player. He was a father figure, he was good natured, he was a conscience, he was everything we hope was right with the world. And most of the time it was.”
Steiner continued: “Los Angeles is a city of stars. Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, whatever. I have long felt that Vin was the biggest star because of his longevity. No one has ever done it better and no one has ever said it stinks. He was comforting, parental, angelic. He had a brilliant, impeccable mind.”
After the Dodgers-Giants game on Tuesday night, Monday said he stayed up in his San Francisco hotel room until 5 a.m., replaying memories in his head, smiling and crying. According to him, when he and his wife go somewhere, his wife often jokingly says that this place is not as good as in the brochure. “Vin Scully was better than the pamphlet,” Munday said.
He recalled Scully’s last broadcast at Dodger Stadium in 2016, when the icon beautifully serenaded a sold-out crowd, singing “Wind Beneath My Wings” as the game was over. Utility worker Charlie Culberson had smashed a home run in a storybook moments before. What’s easy to forget is that it wasn’t Scully’s last broadcast, the Dodgers ended that season with three games in San Francisco.
Culberson had a famous bat there. When he wasn’t sure what to do with it, Munday suggested that he sign it to Scully. Culberson was shy, Munday asked, and Scully said he would be “honoured” to sign him.
Monday escorted Culberson upstairs to the San Francisco press box, where he met with Scully.
“It was incredible,” Monday said. “It was like two kids in the park looking at this magic bat wand. Vinnie signed it and they were about to say goodbye when someone walked into the booth, but the man Vin always called the greatest player he had ever seen was Willie Mays.
“Charlie and Vinnie are already in tears, then Willie comes in and it was like one of those time capsule moments.
“And then we get word of the third or fourth inning here last night, 60 feet from where it happened.”