The Tao of Vin Scully XVII: Donny Baarns

As a professional play-by-play man, what can you learn about your craft simply by listening to Vin Scully today?

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== Donny Baarns (linked here), who calls games for the Single-A Visalia Rawhide in the Cal League, as well as hockey for the NAHL’s Fresno Monsters:

“I grew up in Sylmar and listened to Vin every night, and like so many over the last six decades, it was his voice that made me want to become a play-by-play man. I’ve actually had to force myself to stop listening to him over the last couple years to make sure I don’t end up being a Vin clone, but his influence will always be a part of me.

“Others have already touched on how effortlessly and artfully he performs the fundamentals of good broadcasting, which are easy to take for granted until you realize how difficult they are. But besides his unparalleled mastery of the essentials, there are three other general things that have always struck me about Vin:

“No. 1: He makes you feel as though he’s talking directly to you, instead of at you. He sounds like an old friend who’s sitting in your living room and spinning yarns while describing the game. This ability to speak to each individual unseen listener is a rare gift.

“No. 2: He always frames things in the larger context of an overarching storyline. He never gets lost in the play-to-play minutia of a game; he can always tell you what this moment means, and he does it with wit and brevity. The best example, perhaps, is what he said immediately after Kirk Gibson hit his famous home run in the ’88 World Series: ‘In a year that has been so improbable…the IMPOSSIBLE has happened!’

“No. 3: He’s fair. There’s nothing wrong with wanting your employer to win, but Vin taught me that this doesn’t allow you to sound like someone shot your puppy when the other team scores. Vin noticeably appreciates a great play, even if it robs the Dodgers of a run. He loves the game, and his appreciation of baseball is always at the forefront.

“Also, who else would have either the imagination or the moxie to describe a smooth-fielding shortstop as “a bowl of silk”? That one still stuns me.”

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