The Dodgers are resting tonight, getting ready for three in San Diego. The Diamondbacks took the Cardinals behind Brandon Webb (no surprise). So, while Bret Favre tosses interceptions to the Charger d-backs, I’m thinking about Vin Scully.
Great news flashed around the Dodger World last week, when Vinny announced that he’d be back next year. Each year, true baseball fans (even Giant and Yankee fans who can appreciate the treat of a Hall-Of-Fame announcer) are happy to hear he’s coming back.
Vin Scully should get a commission for each mlb.tv subscription sold to Dodger fans. He’s the reason that I ante’d up for the service. Baseball as told by Scully is more than just beautiful. Back when I was a young buck (a long time ago, mind you), we went to Dodger Stadium with transistor radios (a real long time ago) to listen to Vinny while we sat at Chavez Ravine.
The term “simul-cast” was coined to advertise the fact that Southern Californians could listen to Scully on the radio while watching the Boys in Blue on the tube.
But my relationship with Vin Scully is almost personal. Once, I was driving my young family across the Great Salt Desert of Utah, on our way to spend some time with in-laws in Colorado. It was a hot Saturday afternoon, the road was straight, and before long my wife and our two young boys had all fallen sound asleep.
I searched the radio for a ballgame, found a Dodger station, and was rewarded with Vinny’s golden voice doing play-by-play. It was the sweetest drive ever. As Vin painted the picture of the game, the miles melted away.
My Scully memories go far back in time, back to the mid '60s. I had strict bedtime, around 9:00 PM, when I was in sixth grade or so. The problem was that Dodger games lasted until 10 or later. Beginning at about 7:30, I’d start to inch up the volume on my folks’ big stereo console, which played Vinny and Jerry Doggett’s nightly tale of baseball heroics and tragedy. By my bedtime, I was sure to be able to hear the game from my bedroom, and my folks weren’t any wiser (those vodka tonics my dad drank didn’t hurt, either).
So, laying in bed, one night in September 1965, I’m listening to Vin describe a game attended by “29,000 people in the ballpark and a million butterflies.” Sandy Koufax was pitching his fourth no-hitter, his perfect game. And this 11-year-old was not going to sleep.
Vin was at his best, describing Koufax as he “ran his fingers through his black hair, then pulled the cap back down, fussing at the bill,” he placed me right in Dodger Stadium. Never a homer, when Koufax missed with a pitch, and the fans booed, Vin commented, “A lot of people in the ballpark now are starting to see the pitches with their hearts. The pitch was outside…”
I was laying there, about six inches off the mattress, heart pounding so hard I was worried that my folks would hear over the radio. “Two and two to Harvey Kuenn, one strike away. Sandy into his windup, here's the pitch: Swung on and missed, a perfect game!” Stealth didn’t matter any more. I jumped all over my room, off the bed, off the wall. I didn’t shout, but for the minute or so that Scully let the crowd cheer without comment, I did the happy dance.
Why sports show editors choose to play Jack Buck’s call of Kirk Gibson’s historic World Series home run is beyond me. OK, “I can’t believe what I just saw!” is a baseball classic, but Vin’s “"In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has just happened!" is my favorite. With the Dodgers’ magic number down to five, I’m hoping for a few more pearls from Uncle Vin this post season.