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65 for 65: Vin Scully’s Return
- Updated: August 27, 2013
The man will be back in 2014 for a 65th season as the Dodgers broadcaster. Forget Dimaggio’s 56 hits, Cy Young’s 511 wins, or Ripken Jr.’s million game iron man streak. Vin’s record is the coolest in baseball, and he doesn’t even need to take the field (and no chance of a PED scandal!).
Vin Scully would never allow himself to be mediocre at his job. That’s why he re-ups on his contract year by year these days, making sure his linguistic chops are still good enough to call the game of baseball. He wouldn’t come back if he didn’t think he could spin quality yarns on players as they step out of the batter’s box for maddening displays of OCD. He wouldn’t do it he couldn’t eloquently describe a sharp grounder down the third base line that rattles against the wall in the left field corner while a baserunner rounds third and scampers home and everyone in the stadium is either screaming like a madman or holding their breath until they turn Dodger blue. Wouldn’t let it happen. So we wait, and then late in the summer, before the playoff push is made and fans even more wrapped up in the day to day travails of their teams, the man who is there right along with us makes his announcement, and everything is right Dodgerland.
With this in mind, I present 65 notes on Vin Scully and his tenure with the Dodgers, in the form of quotes, facts, personal anecdotes, and overexcited ramblings (some of these aren’t more than a few words, but work with me here).
1. Starting this off with my all time favorite Vin Scully quote: “Andre Dawson has a bruised knee and is listed as day-to-day. (pause) Aren’t we all?” I swear to Doubleday, that is the greatest off-hand comment to EVER come out of a broadcasting booth. It’s funny, poetic, philosophical, and life-affirming all in 19 short syllables. He is the master.
2. We can pretty much thank Yasiel Puig for jolting the team awake; if the Dodgers play out the rest of the season as poorly as they had started it, does Vinny come back? I’m not so sure.
3. Vin Scully’s call of the 9th inning of Sandy Koufax’s perfect game should be added to the high school English curriculum in California. Read it, it’s pure baseball literature.
4. Vin Scully has it written into his contract that the television cameras must show shots of kid’s enjoying themselves throughout the game. He is America’s doting grandfather.
5. Jon Miller, the San Francisco Giants broadcaster, does a spot on impersonation of Scully. Just one more example of why the Dodgers are better than the Giants, you don’t see our guy working on his imitation of Miller or any other Bay Area broadcaster.
6. Miller has also noted Scully’s worldwide impact; he described hearing announcers in Japan and Colombia invoke Scully’s dulcet voice and low drawn out phrasing.
7. Vin Scully asks his wife, Sandi, every year if she thinks he should continue the gig. Thanks for saying yes Mrs. Scully!
8. He used to be perfect. I’m too young to know a technically perfect version of Scully. In his best years- which is damn near all of them- he had every detail, every name, every statistic, right every single time. Now, he has the occasional mental lapse, like when he refers to Chad Billingsley as “Billingham” recalling an ex-player. You can hear the slip-ups and you don’t care.
9. Besides, we still can’t seem to get Charley Steiner to give the damn score often enough on radio, so you will live with the slip-ups for Scully’s masterful sense of placing the game in the moment.
10. If your listening to a Dodgers game on the radio, probably stuck in traffic on the 405, you have no greater desire than to get home before the third inning is over. That’s when Scully drops the simulcast and switches over to doing television only.
11. You would think that the thousands of hours spent calling a slow-paced game like baseball would dull the senses a bit, even for the most ardent fan. Yet Scully is whip-smart and doesn’t miss many opportunities to throw in a bit of humor.
12. Chin-lung Hu reaches first base: “All right everybody, say it together.. Hu’s on first.”
13. There is an influential architectural teacher named Vincent Scully. Nobody calls him Vin.
14. Vincent went to Yale, and Vinny went to Fordham. Vinny remembers Yale beating Fordham in a game he played in. I wonder if they have ever talked about this.
15. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
16. When the Los Angeles Times polled fans to list the top sports figures, a certain baseball announcer came in third place. Ahead of guys like Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Kobe Bryant, and John Wooden and only trailing to Sandy Koufax and Magic Johnson.
17. Needless to say, he was the only announcer on the list.
18. Throughout all of this, he has remained incredibly humble, by nearly every account.
19. Despite ESPN and Fox Sports trying to stuff as many guys into the booth as possible during their sportscasts to shout over each other, Scully works alone.
20. He prefers it that way. So does the rest of the world.
21. I’ve heard people say they don’t like Scully. They say he is boring. They then usually try to tell me about a crazy dream they had the night before, like it matters or something. I’m then comforted by the fact that I can rest assured their opinion doesn’t matter.
22. “Deuces wild here at Dodger Stadium; two on, two out, with two balls and two strikes to the batter”
23. Does any other broadcaster even have that deal? Who else is so perfect for an old medium that the powers that be are essentially forced to allow him to do radio, because that is where an appreciation
24. Essentially every other broadcaster aspires to be Vin Scully.
25. In fact, it wouldn’t be so bad to aspire to be the Vin Scully of any field. You would be doing what you love, for a long time, and making a lot of people happy all the while.
26. Vin Scully is Irish, which is always cool.
27. He also has red hair and freckles (or at least he used to), but could you imagine anyone disgracing themselves by calling him a ginger?
28. 65 years. That’s a lifetime and a retirement party for the majority of the working world. This is just one of his jobs.
29. Everyone knows about his legendary baseball calls. But he also has his place calling a bit of football lore as well. Scully was in the booth when Dwight Clark made “The Catch” for the San Francisco 49ers.
30. He also did Sunday Night baseball, PGA tour broadcasting, and videogame voiceover work for EA Sports. So you can’t even call him a one trick pony.
31. Which would be stupid anyways, because even if you could be stupid enough to reduce the intricacies of calling a baseball game for a single team a “trick”, it’s still enough to get him into multiple hall of fames.
32. Sportscaster of the Century by the American Sportscaster Association
33. He’s been named National Sportscaster of the year 3 times
34. That’s honestly the strangest statistic ever to me. How does he get it only three times? What changes year to year that makes him fall short of some other slack-jawed yokel spinning homerisms about their own local sports team?
35. Seriously, there must be some sort of clause saying a guy cant win more than once per decade.
36. Would any other broadcaster care if Scully won it 30 years in a row? Of course not! He deserved it.
37.The character Dana Scully on the X-Files is named after him.
38. There are dozens of online threads dedicated to collecting Vin Scully’s famous calls, catchphrases, and vocal tics. Just Google “Vin Scully-isms”. I’ve never heard anyone say that before, I just figured I couldn’t be the first person hoping someone had collected all of his wonderful sayings in one place. There are many of these places. All of them are wonderful.
39. Hundreds of people post about just the deuces wild phrase. It would seem borderline obsessive if people didn’t talk about Scully like they are recalling camping trips with their fathers or uncles or grandfathers. I’ve never felt warmer or safer digging this deep into online message boards.
40. “David Eckstein looks like he fell out of Chris Young’s back pocket” Young is 6’10″, Eckstein is 5’7″.
41. Everything he says is poetry. Even if it’s a tired cliche, when it rolls off Vinny’s tongue you can’t help but think “I wish people used that phrase more often!”.
42. Of course, it might just be made better by the fact that Scully can actually tell you where the phrase “can of corn” actually came from.
43. And if it’s really old, or really hokey, he will usually preface it with “As the saying goes” and you definitely won’t mind then because you will appreciate the self-awareness.
44. Plus if you’re young enough, and the phrase is ancient enough, you probably haven’t heard it anyways and you want to thank him because you feel like he’s a medium of the baseball diamond who has connected you to your stickball playing ancestors.
45. “High fly into right field. She is GONE!” *about a minute of silence* “In the year of the improbable, the impossible has happened!” The most eloquent description of the Gibson home run, an all time sports moment, conjured up on the fly while 60,000 fans go absolutely rabid around him.
46. People used to bring their radios to the game to listen to Scully while he did the call. Thousands of people did this, like Scully was the queen bee and tapped into the collective hive mind of Dodgers fans, guiding each and every one of them, young and old, through the game, through the summer, through the years.
47. Did I say used to? People still do this of course. Alas, it only lasts three innings now (See #10).
48. Is there anyone who bridges the generational gap of young, middle-aged, old, and very old like Vin Scully? I doubt there’s anything else on this earth that people from different generations and walks of life can agree on more than the magnificence of this man. Except maybe true love and the essential goodness that is the Dodger Dog.
49. As far as I know, Farmer John has lucked into the best corporate-voiceover pairing in history. Just the way Vinny says Farmer John Dodger Dogs makes you forget everything about corporations and mass produced meat. You want to kick a PETA member in their grass-fed nuts for ever trying to get rid of hot dogs.
50. But you won’t, because Scully is a kind man and wouldn’t want you to do anything of the sort.
51. Only Tommy Lasorda has been involved with the Dodger organization longer. By one year.
52. “Bo Jackson says ‘Hello!’”
53. He’s remained a very private man over the course of his career. Which is strange to think about, considering how much of his time is broadcasted, documented, and archived for our listening pleasure.
54. Well, its never been about him. Or even the Dodgers for that matter. He’s always made sure of that. As the consummate professional he is, he’s never really allowed himself to be a homer, openly rooting for the Dodgers on the air. His job is to bring the game to the fans. We take care of the rest.
55. He’s mentioned that the only drawback to his job- and one he doesn’t suffer nearly as much now that he doesn’t go west of the Rockies- is the loneliness of the road. And he’s told the fans that he has needed us as much as we need him. That man, alone in the box, perched over the field, knows you’re out there, knows your listening, and knows you might be lonely too, and he wants to thank you.
56. I could wax poetic on the poet laureate of baseball some more, but instead of my tired phrases, I’ll finish this up with a string of Vinny favorites. Most of these are fairly famous, not necessarily famous calls like Buckner or Gibson or Larsen, but little phrases, plays on words and such that Scully does to color each and every single broadcast.
57. On Randy Wolf’s slow curveballs: “Let’s see if they bring out the gun for this next one. Or maybe an egg timer?”
58. “They called it a curveball, but it was more like a change-up that died of exhaustion.” Vinny’s muse was in fine form that night.
59: “It’s a mere moment in a man’s life between the All Star Game and the old timer’s game.”
60. “Statistics are used much like a drunk uses a lamp post: for support, not illumination.”
61. “The Dodgers are such a .500 team that if there was a way to split a three-game series, they’d find it.”
62. On Bob Gibson: “He pitches as though he’s double-parked.” I think I know how we can speed up the games without changing any rules.
63. “It’s easier to pick off a fast runner than a lazy runner.”
64. On a bad game for Brad Penny: “So you can close the book on Penny, and it is definitely not a best-seller.”
65. Well, that’s it. Here’s to Vin Scully calling another year of Dodger games. Another year of poetic phrases, awed silences, and finding new ways to describe #66, Yasiel Puig, in his 65th year.
66. “It’s tiiime for Dodger baseball!”
Come on, I had to give him one to grow on. And what better phrase than the one he uses to start off every game?
Source for quotes: http://www.baseball-almanac.com/quotes/vin_scully_quotes.shtml
Photo credits: http://dodgersinsider.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/vin-scully-51093268.jpg