Vin Scully: Ranking LA Dodgers Announcer's Greatest Calls
For 62 years, Vin Scully has been the voice of the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers. He's a treasure not only to the franchise, but also to the city of Los Angeles as one of the last voices from an era long forgotten. Generations of Angelenos have grown up hearing Scully's easy, reassuring voice, and it's become one of the most recognizable sounds in the city.
He'll be coming back for his 63rd year next season, which is a bright spot in what's been a dismal season this year.
Scully means just as much to the game of baseball, as he's been behind the microphone for some of its most memorable moments. He's a reminder to current announcers to call the game fair, avoid being a homer, know when to get out of the way and, above all else, enjoy what you do and remember it is just a game.
This is by no means a definitive list of Scully's best moments. Feel free to add your own, and let's enjoy some of the finest radio work in sports history by a legendary voice. I've also included a few gems outside of the Dodgers to appreciate the breadth of his résumé.
1. Sandy Koufax's Perfect Game
This was the first thing that came to mind when I made this list. This is Scully at his finest, describing Sandy Koufax at his.
He painted the scene with his keen words, showed genuine excitement on Koufax’s final pitch, stayed silent to allow the crowd’s eruption to fill the air and calmly ended with a time stamp to put the moment in brilliant perspective.
It’s not only Scully’s greatest call; it’s one of the greatest calls in American sports history.
2. Kirk Gibson: 1988 World Series
If you can’t get chills watching this, you aren’t a Dodgers fan. If you don’t get tired of hearing Vin Scully paint the scene, you’re a true Angeleno who can’t get enough of how big this moment was. No description necessary except the facts.
Trailing 4-3. Man on base. Baseball’s best closer in Dennis Eckersley on the mound. Gibson’s at the plate after being hobbled by injury. The NL MVP had a swing for the ages, and Scully from on high gave it the right touch.
This video is a tease but for the full clip; go here and listen to Scully work his magic.
3. Hank Aaron: 715th Home Run
Sometimes you forget how much Scully has seen in his 62 years behind the microphone. Case in point, he was there for Hank Aaron’s historical home run in Atlanta as Al Downing served up that now famous pitch.
Once again, he respected the moment by first being excited and then letting the crowd noise do the rest. In one moment, he connected Aaron’s moment to the racial history of the country and its significance to baseball.
4. Bill Buckner: 1986 World Series
A new generation of baseball fans, myself included, has been deprived of hearing Scully on national broadcasts. It must have been great to hear local legends like Scully and Jack Buck bring their golden throats to a national audience.
Scully called World Series games for NBC and later CBS from 1983 until 1997. He was there in New York in the infamous ninth inning where Boston blew a two-run lead and Mookie Wilson hit that now-famous bouncing grounder to Bill Buckner.
We all know how this happened, and Scully admitted later he felt even more terrible for Buckner than most because he was a former Dodger.
5. The Catch: 1982 NFC Championship Game
I didn’t know this until I looked up calls for the article. Vin Scully called NFL games from 1975-1982, and one of his last calls turned out to be one of the greatest touchdowns in NFL history.
Scully bring the same passion and excitement in calling the game, and when Joe Montana faded backwards before finding Dwight Clark, you could feel him reacting like every fan when that pass soared into nowhere before Clark grabbed it.
6. 4+1: September 18, 2006
For arguably the greatest non-playoff moment of the last decade, leave it to Scully to paint the scene ever so perfectly. Here's the transcript with selected highlights.
When the Padres took a three-run lead: “And the Dodgers will have to collect themselves and go after Pittsburgh,” he said. “It has been a Friday night and a Saturday night combined emotionally, but now it's starting to feel like Monday."
With the Dodgers staring at a four-run deficit: “The Dodgers are asked to do what they did (before), but they've run out of innings.”
After J.D. Drew hit the second home run of the inning: “And another drive to deep right center, and that is gone! Whoa, was that hit!
“What is that line? Do not go gentle into that good night. The Dodgers have decided they're not going to go into that night without howling and kicking.”
Trevor Hoffman enters the game: “He has been absolutely magnificent against everybody, but especially against the Dodgers. (On the next pitch to Russell Martin) And a drive to left center by Martin. That ball is carrying into the seats! Three straight home runs!”
Marlon Anderson makes it a four-pack: “And another drive to right center...believe it or not, four consecutive home runs! And the Dodgers have tied it up again!”
“Can you believe this inning? Can you believe this game? ... It is an unbelievable game.”
Then in the 10th, trailing 10-9, up comes Nomar Garciaparra. After a 3-1 count, Scully describes what happens next.
“And a high fly ball to left field—it is a-way out and gone! The Dodgers win it, 11-10! Ha ha ha—unbelievable! (Then in typical Scully fashion, he makes one final point, ever aware of staying grounded in the moment.) “I forgot to tell you, the Dodgers are in first place.”
7. Bo Jackson: 1989 All-Star Game
It’s only fitting that Scully was behind the microphone to call one of Bo Jackson’s finest moments. If the 1989 All-Star Game was Jackson’s coming-out party, Scully played an ever gracious host when Jackson led off the bottom of the first inning with a titanic blast:
"Look at that one! Bo Jackson says hello. And Rick Reuschel is greeted on the first pitch to Bo Jackson. He almost hit it out of state!"
Scully’s call added to the growing mythology of Jackson, and while he described the fans’ reaction, he probably described the reaction of every All-Star who was in awe.
8. Rick Monday Saving the American Flag
A hallmark of Scully’s career is his professionalism. He was taught early never to be a homer for the Dodgers or offer his personal opinion, and save for a few early mistakes that he points out when people praise him, he holds this as a pillar of his style.
However, you could hardly blame Scully if he sounded incredulous when two folks attempted to burn the American flag at Dodger Stadium on the field. Rick Monday saved the day, and Scully was restrained in his disbelief.
As shocked as he was, his calming yet firm tone probably soothed thousands of angry fans who were ready to take revenge.