How can you not love baseball?
How can you not love Vin Scully?
The Dodgers beloved, iconic, Hall of Fame, baseball ambassador, voice of an era broadcaster passed away Tuesday night at the age of 94.
The Dodgers made the announcement during their game with the San Francisco Giants and showed a tribute video to Scully at the end of the Dodgers win.
Ironic that Scully’s last official broadcast with the Dodgers – after a mere 67 years – was against the Giants. Don’t you hope the TV or radio was tuned in at the Scully house Tuesday?
It’s impossible to sum up Scully’s career and impact in American fandom in a few short words, even though that’s what he was able to do so well.
Scully’s voice captivated millions. He was born in the Bronx, moved to Brooklyn and was a self-professed New York Giant fan as a boy. His dream was to be a sports announcer, a career he started in 1950 calling Brooklyn Dodger games with another broadcasting legend, Red Barber, on the radio.
When the Dodgers moved west, Scully moved too. He was the touchstone of generations of Dodger fans who came to the ballpark with portable radios to be able to hear Scully call the action in front of them.
Scully had a distinguished voice, slightly high-pitched but firm. He always seemed at peace calling games, unruffled, just describing the action mixing in observations about life and the ball players, pitches and hits sparking stories and anecdotes.
He wasn’t afraid to be honest even about the Dodgers’ failings.
There are so many Vin Scully moments that are legendary. Here are some of his best, in few words.
The 1965 Sandy Koufax Perfect Game
The call: One strike away, Sandy into his wind-up, here’s the pitch, swung on and missed, a Perfect Game!
The legend: Koufax was nearing the end of his remarkable four-year run before arthritis in his arm forced him into early retirement. That was a secret then. Scully built the tension of every inning – the Dodgers only got one hit and won the game 1-0, leading up to the final out. Scully was then silent for 38 seconds before announcing the time: 9:46 p.m. in the city of angels.
Hank Aaron 715
The call: A black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking the record of an all-time baseball idol. What a marvelous moment for baseball.
The legend: Aaron, a member of the Atlanta Braves, was subjected to incredible hatred from racists as he approached Babe Ruth’s home run record of 714 career homers. Scully used the moment to (in 21st century lingo) call out the haters.
The Buckner Error
The call: Behind the bag, it gets through Buckner, here comes Knight and the Mets win it!
The legend: Game six of the 1986 World Series, Scully with the national broadcast on NBC. The Red Sox are strikes away from winning their first World Series since 1918 when everything goes haywire at Shea Stadium. A slow roller up the first base line and Buckner (a former Dodger) misplays it letting the Mets score the winning run forcing a Game seven. The brilliance of the call is its simplicity, each phrase getting more unbelievable and Scully’s voice rising in cadence. Almost like a poem.
Kirk Gibson Home Run to Win Game 1 of 1988 World Series
The call: High fly ball into right field. She is gone! (pause) In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened.
The legend: The Dodgers were big underdog to the Oakland As in the World Series and Gibson was injured with a bad hamstring. He was called on to pinch hit in the ninth inning and took one big swing at a Dennis Eckersley pitch and sent it into a bonkers Dodger Stadium. Two things have always stood out to me about this call: one, the image of a car’s taillights leaving Dodger Stadium (who left early?) and Scully masterfully mixing the words improbable and impossible.
The call: Looking, looking, throwing in the end zone. Clark caught it! Dwight Clark (pause). It’s a madhouse at Candlestick.
The legend: It’s the 1981 NFC Championship game, and the torch is officially passed from the Dallas Cowboys to Joe Montana and the 49ers as the team of the 80s. Scully also called NFL football for CBS during his career. While his color man Hank Stram babbles and goes off on a tangent about Cowboys lineman Ed ‘Too Tall’ Jones trying to block the ensuing extra point, Scully was a perfect professional with his call, letting the scene and crowd noise tell the story.