A World Without Vin?

scully.jpgInevitable, yes… but that doesn’t make it any easier to take. From the L.A. Times (via L.A. Observed) comes the news that the Dodgers are planning to announce today that the legendary Vin Scully’s career is indeed going to end someday. The good great news is that his contract, which was set to expire at the end of this season, has been extended through 2008, meaning we’ve got three more glorious years with The Voice Of Los Angeles.

As a lifelong Angeleno and Dodgers fan, I can’t come close to capturing in words what Vin means to me, and dangit if I don’t almost get choked up at the very thought of a broadcast without him talking me through it. Hell, just his “Eastern most in quality, Western most in flavor ‚Äî Farmer John” spiel runs in a timeless and endless loop inside my head.

But I’ll stop short of spouting reverential lines from the ninth of W.H. Auden’s “Twelve Songs” and instead leave you with a link to history and the auditory poetry of Scully himself from a different ninth ‚Äî the ninth inning of the perfect game pitched by Sandy Koufax on Sept. 9, 1965 (via the awesome 6-4-2 Blog and Double Dog Music, which hosts the audio file).

Photo by Tom Zimberoff


Scully perfectly captures the tension and excitement of the final three outs, but my favorite moment comes when Koufax gets the final strike:

“Two and two to Harvey Keen. One strike away. Sandy into his wind-up. Heeeere’s the pitch. Swung on and missed! A perfect game!

And then you know what Scully does? He clams up. For a full 40 seconds. All your hear is the crowd of going crazy and he let’s them tell the story. Brilliant. Then he comes back with:

“On the scoreboard in right field it is 9:46 p.m. in the city of the angels, Los Angeles, California. And a crowd of 29,139 just sitting in to see the only pitcher in baseball history to hurl four no-hit, no-run games. He had done it four staight years and now he capped it. On his fourth no-hitter he made it a perfect game. And Sandy Koufax, whose name will always remind you of strikeouts, did it with a flourish.”

Aw, just go listen for yourself. I gotta go get a tissue.

5 Replies to “A World Without Vin?”

  1. I’ll never forget Vin calling Kirk Gibson’s pinch-hit home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. The Dodgers without Vin would be like how the Lakers are without Chick Hearn. Rather than dwell on the inevitable, I prefer to enjoy Vin while we have him.

  2. Will,
    I’ve had the ABSOLUTE pleasure of meeting and talking with Mr. Scully, all in a rather casual relaxed atmosphere ( I did some work at his home in Westlake Village). In person, he is exactly as you probably imagine him to be, sweet, kind, a true gentleman, and all to happy to talk baseball with you.

  3. We’ve been really lucky to have both Vin and Chick in Los Angeles. They both helped define the teams in a way that very few broadcasters ever have.

  4. Wil and I got the opportunity to meet Vin in the broadcast booth at Dodger Stadium a few years ago. He was, as Fred described, a very kind gentleman. It was an unbelievable thrill to meet the voice that I’d been listening to my whole life. Others have said it more eloquently than I ever could, but Vin brings something to the game that you won’t find anywhere else. I’m glad he’ll be around for at least a few more seasons.

  5. I could not agree more with the sentiments heretofore already expressed. Scully is, to me, as much a vibrant part of Dodger lore as Jackie Robinson– and before anyone take this as heresy, let me explain:

    I have been a Dodger fan since I was in kindergarten in the late 1960’s– and, to me Scully has always been as much a part of my Dodger experience as the now legendary and long-running infield of Garvey, Lopes, Russell and Cey, who were together from the time I was in 4th grade through the end of high school.

    But, and getting back to the Robinson comment, Scully has always been SO much more to me than just a “balls and strikes…here’s what’s happening” functional mic presence. Most any announcer can adequately call the action, etc.; but, very few can casually interweave it against the span of the history of the game.

    And do so with great ease, between pitches.

    Not only did Vin cement in me, at an early age, a true love and appreciation for the game; he became almost like that favorite teacher you had in junior high or high school, where the mere offhanded suggestion of a subject or matter of pursuit would make you run to the library and read up on everything on said person, place or thing.

    Today, with all the 75 ESPNs out there, the internet, etc., it may be hard to understand what it took to actually hop on your bike after watching/listening to an afternoon tilt between the Dodgers and Giants, and race to the library to read about Jackie Robinson, Joe Black, Don Newcombe,etc., just because Vin Scully dropped a story or two during the game.

    It might sound a bit quaint now; but, back then, any story he told was fodder enough to get me to fire up the red Sears-bought fake Schwinn and set sail for the library.

    Sure, I wish now I had the internet then; but, without going all nostalgic here, the real truth is that those feverish bike rides to and from the library were moments in time (as I relived whatever game I’d just seen or heard) that are now irreplaceable.

    From Vin Scully, and nowhere else, I learned about Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby, Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, etc., ad infinitum.

    I cannot imagine my small vicarious sporting lifetime without him, and am thrilled to hear the Dodgers have seen fit to keep him around until at least the end of ’08…

    Two final thoughts:
    Everyone posting here so far nailed it right on the head; but, to Will Campbell: I have that sound file saved to my computer; and, every now and again, like the utter Scully/baseball weasel that I am, even though I was just a week past 3 when it happened, I listen to it– partly because it is a documentary of ‘my’team winning, even if I were only 3 and they were not yet my team because, well, I was three. I also pull it up, mainly, because it is Scully being Scully, in all his true understated brilliance.

    Wow.

    To Julio: Your well-stated words reminded me of something: As much as I also revere Jack Buck, and love his “I don’t believe what I just saw!” call from CBS radio on October 15, 1988; it always rankles me a bit that his call gets as much play and praise as, sometimes, Vin’s call (from the NBC television broadcast) gets.

    From the moment Gibson steps out of the dugout to the deafening roar of the crowd, Scully sets the tension as only he can do: The big bully A’s against the wild card and crippled Dodgers. The “roll of the dice…shaking his leg like a horse” comments, etc.

    Every pitch ratched up the nerves and tension of the crowd and those viewing at home, yet Scully went all minimalist on us– letting the moment speak for itself. Maybe Gibson just strikes out, maybe not; but, all the while, Vin was there– interjecting when appropriate, and letting the moment be what it was…

    I remember now, so distinctly, the churning in my stomach with each pitch. I was just praying for a walk to somehow extend the inning, as only a liar can say he saw what was about to happen….

    The swing.

    “A high fly ball into right field– she is GONE!!!”

    As the entire stadium erupts into chaos, my brother and I are slapping low fives, fervently sucking off a bong, laughing and twitching like mental patients. Pandemonium, both in front of our tv, and in the stadium– yet, Vin says nothing– and then my brother says the words I’ll never forget (in the voice of someone who has just sucked back a nasty bong hit, but can’t can’t keep from talking): “Dude, wait, Vin’s about to do it….”

    And, at just that moment, Scully intones the now-legendary “in a year that has seen the improbable, the IMPOSSIBLE has happened!” line.

    One hell of a religious experience that still resonates, seventeen-plus years later.

    Best.
    Baseball.
    Announcer.
    EVER!

    Thanks for letting me ramble a bit here; but, Scully is a huge hero. Here’s hoping 2006 sees the team get Vin into the playoffs….

    go fucking blue,
    chris checkman

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