On October 2nd, 1936, an 8-year boy walked by a storefront near his home in the Bronx, NY.  Seeing the box score of that day’s World Series game posted in the window of a laundry, he felt a sort of compassion for the team that was being pummeled by the powerful Yankees. From that moment the boy became a New York Giants fan.   Exactly 80 years later to the day, he ended the most illustrious career by any sports broadcaster, after 67 seasons.  On the day of baseball’s 2022 trade deadline, Vin Scully passed from this life at the age of 94.

Born into an Irish Catholic family in 1928, by the time he was 22 years old, Vin had already attained a position as part of the radio broadcast team for the Brooklyn Dodgers.  Not one to greatly rely on statistics – once lamenting that they can be “used like a drunk uses a lamppost, for support not illumination” — Vin would weave the numbers into a story only when necessary. His primary focus was on the people of baseball, the historical connections and heralding the proper perspective on events as they happened.  A good college ballplayer himself at Fordham, Scully respected the players and admired even those of other teams.

National Prominence

In the 1950s, the national networks would include one announcer from each team on their post-season broadcast crews. At age 25 Vin achieved national prominence, becoming the youngest man to call a World Series as the Dodgers faced the Yankees in 1953.  After that season, Dodgers’ lead announcer Red Barber resigned, further boosting Scully’s profile.  In 1955, the Brooklyn Dodgers won their lone World Series title, defeating the Yankees in seven games, as Gil Hodges went 7 for 23 at the plate. The next year, Scully was at the microphone for Don Larsen’s World Series perfect game. After the 1957 season, the Dodgers moved from Ebbets Field to Los Angeles and Scully moved west with them.

Move to the West Coast

Eight years into Vin’s career, the Dodgers made the move to the West Coast. For the first 30 years of his career, Scully worked with a partner before going solo for the next 29 seasons after Jerry Doggett retired following the 1987 season.  Because almost half the games were played in the central and eastern time zones, Scully had a captive audience, stuck in rush hour freeway traffic, and he used this opportunity to teach the audience, many new to baseball about the rules and history of the sport.

The advent of the transistor radio in 1959 was perfect because the LA Coliseum was so huge that many fans could not see the field very well, so they brought radios to the game and Vin was their guide to the action.  Though Dodger Stadium, which opened in 1962, provided better views, fans knew a good thing and at least as late as the 1980s, continued to bring their radios to Dodger Stadium.  More than one player remarked on the fact of hearing those radios while standing on the field.  For some, that was the moment of realization of having reached the highest level in the game.

One thing you could always count on with Vin Scully is that he made others feel welcome, from the stadium elevator operator whom he would greet by name, to the opposing broadcasters.  He would remember and celebrate the milestones of his peers, and often was the first one to call or stop by the booth of a new major league announcer.

Announcer for NFL Games

From 1975 to 1982, Scully was a CBS announcer for NFL games, and that’s when I discovered him.  In a time when the local broadcasts for far-away teams were inaccessible, I had no idea of his career in baseball, so his foray into football was my good fortune.  Teamed with color analysts like former players Sonny Jurgensen and Paul Hornung, or old coaches like Hank Stram, Scully had a unique and truly poetic way of describing the action.  Even as a middle school student more interested in numbers than words, I recognized something unique and memorable about the way this man spoke and described the action.

Legacy of Respect

The legacy of respect shown by his peers and the outpouring of heartfelt sentiments at his passing is unprecedented in the sports world. Several other famous modern announcers including Charley Steiner (now with the Dodgers) and Al Michaels tell of listening to Vin Scully when they were in grade school, and deciding they wanted to do what Vin did.  Imagine the joy and excitement of these professionals when they became his broadcasting peers long before Scully’s retirement! With a career of such length and with one of baseball’s greatest franchises, Scully witnessed and heralded so many great occurrences.  He called Sandy Koufax’ perfect game, Orel Hershiser’s record scoreless innings streak, Kirk Gibson’s walk-off home run in game 1 of the 1988 World Series, and in a more recent generation, Clayton Kershaw’s near-perfect no hitter in 2014 which included a career-high 15 strikeouts.

It’s only fitting that in this brief tribute, I give the last word to Vin Scully himself – his memorable farewell at the end of the 2016 season, signing off as the voice of the Dodgers, from the ballpark of his first favorite team.

“May God give you for every storm a rainbow, for every tear a smile, for every care a promise and a blessing in each trial.”