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Vin Scully Helped California Baseball Take Root


At the tip of the 1957 baseball season, Brooklyn Dodgers management packed up for a long-threatened move across the continent.

Into the hypothetical moving trunks went the house uniforms saying “Dodgers” across the front, the creaky old heroes of Flatbush and far of the front office, plus Manager Walter Alston and his promising young players. (They weren’t quite sure whether the young lefty from Brooklyn, Sandy Koufax, would ever harness his velocity.)

Baseball was moving to the Promised Land. The historic Recent York Giants were also moving, to San Francisco, taking Willie Mays with them. (The noive of them.)

But nothing or no person within the latter-day covered wagons would transport and transplant baseball to the Left Coast higher than a young man not long faraway from the Fordham campus within the Bronx and the broadcasting booth in Brooklyn named Vin Scully.

Greater than anybody or anything, Vin Scully sent baseball floating into the ozone — first from the ill-shaped Coliseum, after which, starting in 1962, from the pastel oasis on a former Mexican camp nestled into Chavez Ravine.

Scully was the nice and cozy voice wafting out right into a warm climate, instructing the locals within the high quality points of big-league baseball. (We sullen, forsaken Dodgers and Giants fans back east liked to think Californians knew nothing about baseball, Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams notwithstanding.)

On soft evenings in Chavez Ravine, the common denominator was not crowd noise or public-address announcements however the play-by-play narration of Scully and his sidekicks, discussing strategy in addition to the past heroics of Messrs. Hodges and Reese and Snider and Erskine and Furillo, most of them operating on fading batteries.

Scully’s dulcet voice floated on stereophonic waves from recent gadgets called “transistor radios,” easy to hold into the ballpark.

He was not the traditional homer baseball announcer who was liable to saying things like, “Let’s get us just a few runs this inning!” Vincent Edward Scully, who died Tuesday at 94, never shouted, never rooted, never patronized, never sermonized — just called plays and added personal notes in regards to the players. His mellow, pull-up-a-chair approach was like having a beloved elder explain the sport unfolding on the sector. In 1958, only 30, Vin Scully was the repository for the history of a franchise beloved in one other world.

“It wasn’t the primary baseman, or the manager, or the team — actually not with the won and lost record, because that they had a troublesome yr,” Peter O’Malley, the son of the previous owner Walter O’Malley, said in a mid-July essay by Bill Shaikin of The Los Angeles Times about Scully’s immediate impact on Los Angeles.

“It was Vinny who introduced the team,” he added. “There was nobody who could have done it higher. Whenever you pause to know the impact that he had then, in addition to today, it’s extraordinary.”

One consolation for the heartbroken Brooklyn fans left behind by the Dodgers was that Scully remained inside earshot. He called World Series games often enough that we may very well be reminded of what we had lost. Gil Hodges and Duke Snider got here to the Mets as faded icons, but Scully would materialize on the air waves at the height of his game.

Scully had a superb teacher in Red Barber, who was broadcasting Brooklyn games when Scully was a young (Giants) fan. Barber had his practiced Southern patter. (“Tearing up the pea-patch,” “the 2 teams are having a rhubarb,” the Dodgers are “sitting within the catbird seat” — we got here to know exactly what every one meant.) But behind the jocular and charming regionalisms, Barber was an advanced religious man who had once considered being a teacher.

At some point Scully was a bit vague on the air about why a player was not within the lineup; Barber let him know he must have came upon why within the pregame access to the manager.

One other time, the authors relate, Scully was drinking a beer within the press lounge before a game, a standard practice in Scully’s experience. Barber, no stranger to alcohol, told Scully that he couldn’t afford to be seen having a beer since it may very well be held against him if he had slip-up on the microphone.

The authors note that Scully can have smarted on the close discipline, but that he at all times treated Barber as his mentor, in his public statements and in letters to “The Old Redhead.”

If Barber was known for his Southern style, Scully became known for his silence. He realized that a momentous play deserved the roar of the gang slightly than the roar of the broadcaster. He would sit by the microphone and let the roars waft outward.

In 1986, Scully was back in Recent York, watching the Red Sox inch up the dugout steps, waiting for the ultimate out for the franchise’s first World Series championship since 1918. As an alternative, Mookie Wilson’s little dribbler slithered past the aching legs of first baseman Bill Buckner, and the World Series was suddenly prolonged to a seventh game.

“Little roller up along first … behind the bag!” Scully began, but then added: “It gets through Buckner! Here comes Knight, and the Mets win it!”

Shea Stadium went mad as Scully sat by the microphone for 3 full minutes. Then he added, “If one picture is price a thousand words, you will have seen about one million words, but greater than that, you will have seen a completely bizarre finish to Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. The Mets usually are not only alive, they’re well, and they’re going to play the Red Sox in Game 7 tomorrow.”

Here, for once in his magnificent profession, Scully missed something. He was quoted as saying he never thought he would hear normally neutral Recent York sportswriters cheering a victory by the Mets. I later noted in print that we weren’t cheering, we were gasping on the horror of suddenly having to rewrite our stories, at midnight, to notice that the Mets had inexplicably survived to play the seventh game (and win the Series, after a rainout on Sunday).

Scully’s impeccable reliance on the motion on the screen served him well two World Series later when an injured Kirk Gibson hobbled as much as pinch-hit with the Dodgers trailing the Oakland A’s. He tersely called the game-changing homer, but then went silent for 65 seconds as Dodger Stadium erupted, then made one transient comment, and went silent again for 29 seconds. He was Vin Scully, and he knew the fans back home in front of the tube could supply their eyes and ears, their very own emotions.

Major League Baseball had come a good distance since Walter O’Malley ran away with Our Bums. Baseball had grown from essentially the eastern half of the US to a worldwide sport. In Canada, in Latin America, in Japan, everywhere in the world, the fans knew the rating.

Vin Scully knew his audience. He carried himself with the aura of a self-confident but low-key star. He knew he was a part of the show; he didn’t should babble.

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