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Vin Scully Was Los Angeles


He was Venice Beach, Pink’s hot-dog stand and the Hollywood Bowl all rolled into one. He was Los Angeles, the sound of summer, the poet laureate of the Dodgers — Brooklyn and Los Angeles — for 67 seasons.

We knew Vin Scully wasn’t going to last perpetually. It only seemed as if he might. Even in retirement, years after his final broadcast in 2016, his presence remained each ubiquitous and ethereal, just like the ocean and the air.

“There are two words to explain Vin: Babe Ruth,” said Charley Steiner, the Dodgers’ radio play-by-play man since 2005 after moving west from the Yankees’ booth (2002-2004). “The most effective who ever did it. Babe Ruth will all the time be defined as baseball. Vin will all the time be remembered because the voice of baseball.”

The wild ride that was Tuesday’s major league trading deadline suddenly and sharply gave solution to a heaviness within the still of that night, when the Dodgers announced that Scully had died at 94. Baseball’s cycle of life, distilled into sooner or later: recent starts and sad endings. Scully had been in declining health in recent months, and those that knew him well had been bracing for the phone call. But when it got here, it still was a gut punch.

“It doesn’t make it easier, because we lost a friend,” said Rick Monday, the previous outfielder and longtime Dodgers broadcaster. “Whether we actually met Vin Scully or not, he was our friend.”

Like the perfect of friends, he was filled with wonder, joy, humility and surprises.

“After I was in college, I wrote for The Times, so you almost certainly saw my byline,” Scully said eagerly to start an interview with The Latest York Times earlier this summer for a story about Gil Hodges, as if his days at Fordham University were just around a recent corner. “It says, ‘Special Correspondent to The Times.’ I used to be under an assumed name. Anyway, I just wanted you to know my literary background.”

One other time, late at night after an interleague game at Angel Stadium early within the 2013 season, some news media members were awaiting a press-box elevator to go home for the evening when Scully joined them for the ride down. He was wearing a brace on his left hand and wrist, the results of a bout with tendinitis.

“I used to be telling any individual earlier that I should just tell people I’ve gotten desirous about falconry and I’m waiting for the bird,” he said, smiling broadly. “That may be a greater story, wouldn’t it?”

His instincts were perfect and his joie de vivre constant.

“He was so well read,” Monday said. “He also owned the English language. Whenever you listened to Vin, you felt like it is best to return to highschool immediately. But he never spoke all the way down to anyone, ever. He was amazing.”

In what was considered one of his final public acts, Scully wrote a letter to the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Era Committee to support Hodges’s candidacy for the Hall of Fame — a letter that was said to be very influential. However the ever-humble Scully refused to consider he had enough clout to sway the voters and, moreover, didn’t want any credit.

“Even once I wrote it, I had my fingers crossed that it might not be made public to an extent where suddenly I’m attempting to step into the identical highlight because I didn’t want that in any respect,” Scully said this summer. “Yes, I did write the letter, and it was true so far as I do know in every facet. But I don’t need to dwell on it in any respect.

“I’m extremely sensitive now that I’m retired. I just don’t need to do anything where I would look like misplaced.”

But Scully’s “place” was all over the place, a friend welcomed by all, starting along with his warm invitation at first of every broadcast to “pull up a chair.” And for nearly seven a long time, from the mansions of Bel Air to the blue-collar neighborhoods across the Southland, on the Dodgers’ behalf, he created an incredible clan.

Monday grew up in Santa Monica, Calif., with a single mother who fell in love with the Dodgers after they moved west in 1958. Each time they were within the automobile when the Dodgers were playing, Monday recalls, Scully was their companion.

“His voice was like a delicate hand placed on our shoulder saying, ‘Hey, things are going to be OK. Whatever’s occurring on this planet, whatever’s occurring in your life, for these next three hours, I got you’,” Monday said. “That’s the sensation we had.”

Hundreds of thousands of others experienced similar emotions over those Iron Man-esque 67 years.

“I used to be mesmerized by this game and mesmerized much more by Vin’s voice and the best way he presented the sport,” Monday said. “His description of the uniforms, the sphere, how briskly a man was running, how hard a ball was hit, a diving catch that was made. When Vin was doing a game, it wasn’t just the plays of the sport, it was the pageantry of the sport.”

Monday was the No. 1 overall draft pick in the primary amateur baseball draft in 1965, taken by the Athletics, who traded him to the Chicago Cubs before the 1972 season.

“So the Dodgers finally go to Chicago, and my mom can watch the sport on TV,” Monday said. “It’s my seventh yr within the bigs, and my mom heard Vin Scully mention my name. I said, ‘Mom, you didn’t even realize I used to be in the massive leagues until Vin mentioned my name.’ She laughed. That made it official.”

The Los Angeles Times Magazine in 1998 named Scully probably the most trusted man in Los Angeles. Eight years before that, the late, legendary Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray made the case that Scully was crucial Dodger of all of them. Little has modified since.

“Vincent Edward Scully meant as much or more to the Dodgers than any .300 hitter they ever signed, any 20-game winner they ever fielded,” Murray wrote in a column published in August 1990. “True, he didn’t limp to home plate and hit the house run that turned a season right into a miracle — but he knew what to do with it so it might echo through the ages.”

When Kirk Gibson smashed that home run against Oakland’s Dennis Eckersley to set the tone for the Dodgers’ upset of Oakland in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, Scully exclaimed: “In a yr that has been so improbable, the unimaginable has happened!”

For one minute and eight seconds, he remained silent, allowing the roaring Dodger Stadium crowd to fill the tv speakers. The echoes proceed to this present day.

His sense of timing, history and the moment was impeccable, regardless of the occasion.

“He wasn’t just an announcer,” Steiner said. “He wasn’t only a baseball figure. He was a father figure, he was avuncular, he was a conscience, he was all that we’d hope was right with the world. And more times than not, he was.”

Steiner continued: “Los Angeles is a city of stars. Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, you name it. I’ve long felt Vin was the most important star of all due to his longevity. No person has ever done it higher, and no one ever said he stinks. He was comforting, parental, angelic. He had a superb, spotless mind.”

After the Dodgers-Giants game Tuesday night, Monday said he was up in his San Francisco hotel room until 5 a.m. turning over the memories in his mind, alternately smiling and tearing up. When he and his wife travel somewhere, he said, his wife often kiddingly says the place wasn’t nearly as good because the brochure. “Vin Scully was higher than the brochure,” Monday said.

He recalled Scully’s final Dodger Stadium broadcast in 2016, when the icon beautifully serenaded the sellout crowd by singing “Wind Beneath My Wings” when the sport was finished. The utility man Charlie Culberson had smashed a storybook walk-off home run a number of moments earlier. What is simple to forget is that it wasn’t Scully’s final broadcast, the Dodgers finished that season with three games in San Francisco.

There, Culberson had the now-famous bat with him. When he wasn’t sure what to do with it, Monday suggested he have Scully sign it. Culberson was shy, Monday asked and Scully said he can be “honored” to sign it.

Monday escorted Culberson upstairs to the San Francisco press box where they met Scully.

“It was unbelievable,” Monday said. “It was like two kids at a park examining this magical wand of a bat. Vinny signed it, and so they were about to say goodbye when who walks into the booth however the man Vin all the time said was the best player he ever saw — Willie Mays.

“Charlie and Vinny had already had tears come down, then Willie walks in and it was like considered one of those moments from a time capsule.

“After which we get word within the third or fourth inning here last night, 60 feet from where that happened.”

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