The final elevator ride of Vin Scully’s career

SAN FRANCISCO — Colleague Tom Hoffarth, reporting for his column on the end of Vin Scully’s broadcasting career, interviewed a man named Kevin O’Malley. O’Malley knows Scully. As the national Catholic Athletes for Christ MLB ministry coordinator, he arranges the mass that Scully (and the Dodgers’ players and coaches) attend before every Sunday home game at Dodger Stadium. O’Malley helped arrange another mass this morning inside AT&T Park.

If Scully had gotten the calling to be a priest long ago, “he’d be a Cardinal by now,” O’Malley told Hoffarth.

He may never have gotten the calling, but Scully was more in demand than the Pope on Sunday.

In the minutes before Scully concluded his final broadcast, two uniformed officers from the San Francisco Police Department stood outside the SportsNet LA booth on the third floor of AT&T Park. Two stadium security guards flanked the door, too. A handful of reporters gathered in the hallway between Scully’s booth and the elevator connecting to the field level, hoping to get one last glimpse of the 88-year-old as he strode into broadcasting history.

During an August game between the Dodgers and Chicago Cubs, Scully told the story of the Beatles’ harrowing (no, really) escape from their 1966 concert at Dodger Stadium. AT&T Park might be more convenient for a celebrity trying to leave from the third floor, but not by much.

So the police officers and the security guards parked outside the booth early. The final out of the Giants’ 7-1 win was recorded, and Scully signed off:

Steve Ethier, the Dodgers’ senior vice president of stadium operations, led the procession out of the visitors’ broadcasting booth. He was followed by Scully and his wife, Sandi, and Dodgers public relations assistant Steve Brener. The security detail escorted the entourage into the first elevator, ready and waiting to make its descent.

This was the scene as the procession made its way from the booth to the elevator:

OK. Easy enough.

The problem for celebrities leaving AT&T Park is that there is no buffer between them and the fans once they reach the ground floor. The only corridor connecting Scully’s elevator to the car waiting to whisk him off into retirement is the same corridor that hundreds of fans use to get to the field-level seats behind home plate. It’s also the same corridor that the Giants must cross in order to get from their dugout into their clubhouse (where a champagne celebration awaited them; the win allowed San Francisco to clinch a wild card berth). The short-order cooks who prepare meals for God-knows-how-many-sections of the park work in a kitchen located off this corridor. Oh, and there’s a radio booth tucked into AT&T Park too, a place for hosting things like post-game shows. Guess which corridor leads to that booth.

This is where Dominic Eslamian comes in.

Once they had disembarked the elevator, the next task for the Scully entourage was to pile into a small golf cart. It’s probably a bit fancier than the last golf cart you rode, with a California license plate, hub caps over the tires and a curved plexiglass windshield out front. But it isn’t much larger, with room for only four people: Vin, Sandi, Brener and Eslamian, a seasonal stadium worker whose job is to drive various guests of honor from Point A to Point B. If it weren’t for the security guards Sunday, Eslamian would have hit more people with a golf cart than a drunkard plowing through the No. 18 gallery at Augusta National.

The cart’s wheels spun slowly.

“Thank you Vin!”

“We love you Vin!”

“Vin! Vin!”

You couldn’t distinguish the voices from the bodies from the cell phone cameras they were holding. Through this tangle of humanity, all the Pope could do was wave. The driver could barely drive.

“To be honest with you I don’t really understand it,” Eslamian would say after dropping the Scullys off just beyond left field. “Before I got this job I wasn’t much of a baseball fan.” Eslamian said he’d only been hired prior to the 2016 season; Scully was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame before Eslamian was born.

“Willie Mays, guys like that, they’re here every day. I’ve only seen that many people for him (Scully) and Kevin Durant” — the Golden State Warriors forward who attended a game here in September.

As for Scully’s slow ride into the sunset, I couldn’t see it. Too many people got in the way. By the time the Giants’ players and coaches started making their way from the field, down a hallway, across the crowded corridor to their clubhouse clinching party, another team of stadium security guards was cordoning off this escape path. No one was allowed past. I flashed my press pass, looked down the corridor, and the Scully entourage was gone. A minute later, Eslamian was guiding his golf cart into its parking space.

Elvis, the Beatles and the Pope had all left the building together.

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This entry was posted in JP on the Dodgers, Vin Scully and tagged by J.P. Hoornstra. Bookmark the permalink.

About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.