They gush, because they can.
Yes, he’s the greatest baseball broadcaster that we’ve ever heard. He’s a connection to the Dodgers that no one else could ever provide for the fans of L.A.
He’s the heart and soul of the city, said Charley Steiner, when introducing him to throw out the first pitch of Monday’s home opener.
But the constant reminders of how great we have it for having 81-years-young Vin Scully on our TV sets can get … a bit over the top. Unlike something he’s ever done behind the mike.
Take a lesson from Scully. Tone it down a bit. Put it into perspective.
Some of today’s reports from the ballyard about how his presence set the tone for the day, captured the event perfectly … we actually cringed.
Maybe because of what happened in Philadelphia — where Harry Kalas arrived at the park to call the Phillies game, collapsed in the press box and later died, at age 73 — some L.A. media folk got a jolt of what it might be like to have that happen to us. Kind of like what it was like to have Chick Hearn taken from us after the 2002 championship season.
Maybe in these times of trouble and worry and anxiety, we look to Scully for that comforting voice that everything’s OK, even if the Dodgers aren’t winning. But that’s really putting a lot of pressure on one man to perform something more than simply delivering a story and the ball-strike count to millions of TV viewers each game.
Perhaps you’ve read the transcript of what Scully said last Thursday, when he was doing the Dodgers-Padres game from San Diego just hours after the news reported on the death of Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart:
“If I may speak for every member of the Dodger organization, our heartfelt and deepest sympathies to the mother and family of Nick Adenhart, and to every member in the Angels organization, for the untimely accident and death of young Nick last night at the tender age of twenty-two. Nick, from Maryland, had pitched six scoreless innings and was in a car with three friends, and a driver apparently went through a red light and T-boned the car, killing three of the four, including Nick, and one other member is in critical condition. And if there is one thing I’ve learned in all my years — and I haven’t learned much — but the one thing I’ve learned: Don’t even waste your time trying to figure out life.”
It’s a spin off of one of Scully’s great lines: “If you want to make God smile, tell him your plans.”
If you want to make Scully smile, tell him about a great book you’ve read lately, or a piece of music you’ve heard. Sing him a tune from “Phantom of the Opera,” but only if you can hold a note. Tell him about your golf game.
Maybe the hesistant reaction we have is because we’ve been privy to visits to the broadcast booth hours before the first pitch, just to watch Scully put on his reading glasses, pour over notes to prepare, trade stories with cameraman/lighting director Rob Menschel, stage manager Boyd Robertson or producer Brad Zager, and accept visitors by the handful.
It’s no wonder Scully tries to avoid all the adulation heaped upon him simply for trying to get from the Dodger Stadium club level elevator to the broadcast booth each day. The dash he makes to escape once the game’s over has become an Olympian feat.
Giving Scully love is a marvelous thing. But maybe we ought to keep it in perspective and not make it seem like we’re trying to out-do each other in chronicling the final chapter of his career with another obvious tribute — even if many assume Year 60 with the organization will be the last time we hear his final calls.
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