That’s because Kevin Fagan speaks for almost every Southern Californian who follow a Dodgers’ postseason run this time of year.
It may have been just one amidst the thousands of “Drabble” comic strips Fagan has drawn over the last 34 years, but the understated tribute to Vin Scully is likely resonated so much so among Dodger fans that it quickly found a spot of honor on many refrigerator doors, probably held up in place by an “L.A.” logo magnet.
“It’s the way I’ve watched Dodger playoff games for as long as I can remember,” said the 57-year old father of three from his home in Mission Viejo. “The last time it happened (2009), I can remember how frustrating it got trying to listen to him on radio with the delay (matched up against the network TV video), so I just turned the TV off. I’d rather listen to him than watch with any other announcers.”
So this is a storyline Fagan has been sitting on for four years?
Not only that, consider he had to submit the strip six weeks before it actually published in some 200 papers across the nation, including all of those in the Los Angeles News Group.
That meant Fagan had to take a calculated risk in early September when he thought the Dodgers would actually be in the post season. It ended up landing on the off day between Games 2 and 3 from the Dodgers-Braves NL Divisional Series, on Saturday, Oct. 5.
“Talk about grace under pressure,” Scully said when told about how Fagan pulled that one off.
The Dodgers’ Hall of Fame broadcaster admits he’s “overwhelmed when people say they turn the sound down, although I want them to know I can’t possibly try to do a radio call while looking at the television.
“(TBS) is doing their own thing, and we’re not always on the same page, like it would be if we were doing our own simulcast (during the regular season). I have a monitor in the booth, but I can’t really try to match up with them.”
The programmers at KLAC-AM (570) have been accommodating to home viewers by putting the games on a seven-second delay, which matches up much better to how TBS is delivered on a delay to dish or cable systems. The only problem there is that those listening to Scully while at Dodger Stadium hear him describe something they had seen a handful of seconds earlier
Fagan can accommodate Dodger fans by being one himself, since he was a kid growing up in Inglewood and moving to Orange County as a teenager.
“I was just thinking about when I was growing up – my parents were divorced, so my dad was not around as much as I’d have liked,” said Fagan.
“My mom was a waitress who worked a lot, so I was often home a lot on my own. I would always listen to Vin doing the Dodger games, and really, not only did I learn about baseball, but I learned a lot of life lessons. I’ve come to realize what a great influence he has been in my life.”
Fagan, who blogged about what was behind the Scully comic idea, remembers hearing how Scully could paraphrase a reference to the Gettysburg Address – about how how little will note nor long remember what transpired here today – and then go look it up to find out about its historical context.
Fagan recalls watching a Dodgers-Giants telecast from Candlestick park in the summer of 1969, where Scully talked about the event about to take place the next day when “messers Armstrong, Aldren and Collins” were about to partake in the first lunar landing.
“He’s always been so different from other broadcasters – not a homer, rooting for a team,” said Fagan. “He said later in an interview that he thought it made him a better salesman when he was doing commercials, because people would know he was sincere.
“There are so many other things I’ve learned just from hearing him talk about life. He said he doesn’t listen to other sportscasters call games because he didn’t subconsciously want to be influenced by them. I’ve been that way with my work. I don’t ignore other cartoonists, but I don’t go out of my way to watch other shows on TV or try to pick up on how other people do things, because I don’t want to be accused of plagiarizing. It’s important to be yourself.”
The only other time Fagan says he’s taken a leap about including a Scully reference in a “Drabble” storyline was years ago when Ralph, the family father, was scanning the radio while in the car and stopped when he heard the words, “And a pleasant good evening to you, where ever you may be.”
A representative for Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley contacted Fagan about buying the original print to give to Scully as a birthday gift.
“I would have given it to him free, but they insisted,” said Fagan, noting that Scully sent him a note of thanks soon afterward.
Fagan happened to be watching a Dodger game maybe 25 years ago, he said, Scully saw “the wave” start gaining momentum in Dodger Stadium. Scully then began referencing a comic strip he had seen where two kids were trying to start a wave in church.
It happened to be a “Drabble” piece involving the characters Norman and Patrick.
“When I was a kid, I’d always dreamed of Vin describing my heroics on the baseball field,” said Fagan, “but that was just as good.”
Just as good is Fagan admits his two sons are just as big a fans of Scully now as he has always been, making it a generational appreciation.
“I wonder if Vin realizes that,” Fagan said. “I also wonder about when I was a kid, we could leave a game early on a weeknight knowing we’d hear Vin as we were driving home and we weren’t really missing anything. Now a days, that doesn’t happen. Maybe it’s why people stay in the park until the end more often now?”
“The thought that a highly talented cartoonist would take the time and effort to do that is very touching and deeply appreciated,” said Scully.
You couldn’t draw that one up any better.
== More on Fagan and “Drabble”:
= The official website (also a place to buy a copy of the Scully strip)
= The Facebook site
= Where to find other “Drabble” strips
= Another piece on Fagan by ThinkBlueLA.com