The Tao of Vin Scully: Prof. Lou Riggs, with the final disseration


Following up on today’s final installment (linked here) on the 19th annual best and worst of the L.A. sports media, tying up the answers to the questions about how someone can learn from listening to today’s version of Vin Scully call a Dodger game, we’ll submit this final analysis from Lou Riggs (linked here), who has been teaching sportscasting play-by-play at Santa Monica College since 1985, a personal “trainer” for broadcasters such as Chris Marlowe, Heather Cox and James Worthy, and a play-by-play man himself in Southern California since 1970 on college sports, and let him tie it all together:


“I don’t know Scully personally, so I’m giving you an objective viewpoint as a broadcaster, coach and teacher.

“I use Scully as examples of how to do if right all the time, even if so many of my broadcast students are so young (in their teens and 20s). Unfortunately, in a day of video games, they tend less to use of the English language and have shorter attention spans, so I’m not sure what younger generations of broadcasters bring to the table worth digesting. I grew up listening to guys like Red Barber (Scully’s mentor), Mel Allen, Fred Haney (when he was broadcasting Hollywood Stars baseball games), Jack Drees, Bob Kelley, Sam Balter, Ted Husing, Bill Stern and Harry Wismer. They weren’t all great, but, you could learn from them.

“Scully’s talent is that he is the opposite of most younger announcers today because they’re screamers, talk too fast, are ‘homers,’ don’t know when or how to tell a story. Scully is ‘old school,’ like John Wooden was ‘old school’ and like how I am in the classroom.

“First, he is unbelievably prepared, not just with stats (he can have a stat guy help him out), but in ‘life.’ I keep telling my people to learn and know as much as you can about history, literature, current events, world events, because you never know when you might be able to use what’s happening today in context with what happened years before, or people from different generations. If he makes a comparison of Clayton Kershaw to Sandy Koufax, that is something we know what he’s talking about. But even more important is that he knows what he’s talking about.

“What Scully brings is class, grace, word economy, knowledge, preparation and a smooth, calming delivery. If someone is a better story teller, in context with the timing of when to deliver it, it must be a dead comedian (maybe Jack Benny?). He never talks down to an audience. He brings us along for the ride — ‘pull up a chair’

“He’s always under control — by that, I mean he’s not a local ‘Harry Hysterical’ type — ever. Even on his Koufax perfect game, the Dodgers winning a pennant or World Series, or Gibson’s World Series home run — they were under control excitement.

“He understands the art of ‘layout’ when the crowd is going bonkers. He brings great sense of humor to the booth. If he makes a mistake (which is rare), he can kid himself about it and move on. He’s not a ‘homer’ even though he’s the Dodger broadcaster. The closest thing I ever heard him say, I believe, was when Dodgers beat Milwaukee in 1959 playoffs to go to World Series when he said ‘we go to Chicago’ — that ‘we’ can be interpreted several ways. But he’s never said ‘us’ or ‘they’ or ‘them,’ it’s always ‘Dodgers’ and ‘Giants.’

“He recaps better than anyone in the game, giving the score, and telling us frequently what has happened for late tune-inners. You feel like he’s someone you could sit down and talk with and go away feeling good about it.

“Unfortunately, there aren’t many like Scully — well, no one actually — but a Dick Enberg, Al Michaels and the late Bill King come to mind. They’re all older and have an understanding of the basic elements of good broadcasting, aren’t afraid to be quiet.

“If any young person wants to be a real professional, put the video games away and listen, digest how Scully presents a picture.”


== The previous 20 respondents to the question as posted on the blog:
= Jim Nantz (linked here)
= Ross Porter (linked here)
= Ken Levine (linked here)
= Matt Vasgersian (linked here)
= Victor Rojas (linked here)
= Charley Steiner (linked here)
= Bob Miller (linked here)
= Nick Nickson (linked here)
= Chris Roberts (linked here)
= Ralph Lawler (linked here)
= Chris Fisher (linked here)
= Jeff Lasky (linked here)
= Paul Sunderland (linked here)
= Dave Caldwell (linked here)
= Larry Kahn (linked here)
= Mario Impemba (linked here)
= Josh Suchon (linked here)
= Donny Baarns (linked here)
= Larry Burnett (linked here)
= Spero Dedes (linked here)

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