It’s not even 1,500 words, this essay/pseudo story that Richard Hoffer has cobbled together for the current issue of Sports Illustrated on Dodgers Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully (linked here) that arrived in subscriber mailboxes today.
Nor is there any news angle to the fact that the 80-year-old’s contract runs out after this year, and there’s no guarantee he’ll be back.
Why do the story then? Why not, was the apparent answer.
This is a piece that simply says something most of us who’ve grown up in L.A. have already come to embrace: In Vin, veritas. And that’s the headline they went with.
The rest, it’s simply a poem written to Vin’s 50 years in Southern California.
“In a city that is predicated on transience, that celebrates change so famously, there is little room for local institutions. Who would want to do something, the same one thing, for half a century? Somebody without ambition, that’s who. Or without the talent to skip town altogether and go national. … But here’s Vin Scully. … It’s gotten to the point, the man having stitched together all those seasons, all by himself, that when you say Dodgers, you really mean Vin Scully. Who else?”
It eventually leads to this paragraph:
“Scully has made a life for himself, and for some millions of listeners, exploring the tension between the mundane and the heroic, maintaining a dignified presence all the while, no rooting for him, no consorting with players, knowing just what to say and when to shut up. In his mind, he’s the host who welcomes you to the party, takes your coat, makes introductions and then stands apart to moderate the chatter. It’s his voice alone that’s been floating out over this impossible sprawl, 50 years, gathering everyone under the net, a couple of hours a night, enforcing a community of shared excitement, or puzzlement, or disappointment, Azusa to Temecula.”
And now, Jeff Kent can listen to him while he sits on the DL, awaiting to find out if he’s the next star to come and go from L.A.
The story caused us to wander the SI Vault to find out how many other stories had been done on Scully in the past (a link here to the search). There are 41 story references, plus this SI WIKI mini bio (linked here).
==One of them, by columnist Steve Rushin in 2002 (linked here) called “The Most Artful Dodger,” almost relays the exact same story that Scully repeats in the current Hoffer piece about laying under the radio to listen to college football games as a kid. The SI lawyers may want to look into that one.
==A piece by Jerry Kirshebbaum in 1971 on the best play-by-play men in sportscasting (linked here) contained this:
“By common consent the best of the baseball broadcasters is (Dick) Enberg’s Southern California neighbor, red-haired Vin Scully, 43, who has been announcing Dodger games in Brooklyn and Los Angeles for 18 years. Scully’s natural element is radio; he is the reason that transistors abound at Dodger Stadium and that Angelenos by the thousands tune in to Dodger games on the freeways, all of which has made the club one of only a few–the Angels , Astros, Twins and Red Sox are others–for whom radio revenues exceed those from TV. Scully also announces the 21 games, all of them on the road, that Walter O’Malley condescends to allow on TV. There are dangers, such as talking too much about the obvious, that make the switch from radio to television perilous, but Scully avoids them.”
==By far, the most interesting link was to a May, 1964 story that Robert Creamer did on Scully (linked here) – nearly 6,000 words — called “The Transistor Kid.” He was 36 at the time, in just his 15th season with the team. Yet he was already a legend in the city:
“Vin Scully’s voice is better known to most Los Angelenos than their next-door neighbor’s is. He has become a celebrity. He is stared at in the street. Kids hound him for autographs. Out-of-town visitors at ball games in Dodger Stadium have Scully pointed out to them–as though he were the Empire State Building–as he sits in his broadcasting booth describing a game, his left hand lightly touching his temple in a characteristic pose that his followers dote on and which, for them, has come to be his trademark.”
==As a follow up, the letters to the editor a few weeks later included (linked here) one from Scully:
Two things happened when I was trying to play ball at Fordham that have always left me leary of the printed word. One concerned the only home run I ever hit–which was in truth a misjudged fly ball. It was in a college game, and a photographer for the Bronx Home News was present. I gave it the real home run trot and even tried to hang in midair over the home plate so that he could take the proper picture. The next day I went out eager to buy every paper I could get my hands on. The first one I bought featured a picture on the sports page which showed a blurred figure who could not possibly have been recognized by blood relatives, and the caption: “JIM TULLY scoring on his home run.”
The other shock to my system was administered by Lou Effrat of The New York Times . He covered a game that was probably the only one in my career in which I got three hits in four times at bat. The other time I had struck out. We won the game and, since I had contributed to the victory, I eagerly purchased the Times the following morning to read Effrat’s glowing report of my contribution. The only time my name was mentioned was at the head of the third paragraph, which began, “After Scully fanned…”
This is a long preamble to tell you all that has been washed away. Everyone connected with the Scully family wishes to thank you and Robert Creamer for as nice a write-up as a man could ever wish to have.
– VIN SCULLY
Yet the hometown listed under it: Houston.
Must have been on a road trip.
==In June, 1964, there was a “Scorecard” note on Scully (linked here) — which is almost verbatim on what he said on the air earlier this year as he was calling the no-hit bid by the Angels’ Jered Weaver against the Dodgers (which he got, but lost, 1-0):
Some of the superstitions of baseball are amusing and some, like the injunction against mentioning the fact that a pitcher has a no-hitter going, are downright irritating, especially when observed by broadcasters. We have said it before (SI, May 13, 1963) and we say it again, because when Sandy Koufax had not only a no-hitter but the third of his career on its way to history, it went un-mentioned, except by coy insinuation, on some broadcasts. But not, praise be, on Vin Scully ‘s report to Los Angeles Dodger fans. He has been steadfast in calling a no-hitter a no-hitter from the start of his announcing career.
“There are a lot of youngsters on our club that throw very hard,” Scully said the other day. “It is not uncommon for one of them to have a no-hitter going through four, five or six innings. If I did not call them I would be talking nonsense most of the time. Why, the other night Koufax and his teammates were talking about the no-hitter during the game. Why shouldn’t I?”
One of the old school, though, is Mel Allen. Just recently, during the broadcast of a Yankee game, Allen received the line score of the Mets-San Francisco game in which Jack Sanford was surrendering no hits. “In the seventh inning,” Allen babbled, “Jack Sanford is pitching the type of game every pitcher dreams of having.”