They have been Vin Scully’s colleagues in the team’s media-related world. As a week-long tribute to Scully begins at Dodger Stadium for his final seven home games, these are some of their stories:
Long before his time as the Dodgers’ general manager from 1987-98, Fred Claire came into the Vin Scully circle from a job a sports writer and then as a team public relations employee in 1969. The Torrance High grad and El Camino College student had covered sports for the Whittier Daily News, Pomona Progress-Bulletin and the Long Beach Press-Telegram, and was eventually the VP of Communications before moving into the GM spot in the aftermath of the Al Campanis exit.
Claire, author of the 2004 book on his 30 years with the franchise, shares this:
“I probably first met Vin when I was a young sports editor of the Pomona Progress-Bulletin and covered the Dodgers in their initial season in Los Angeles in 1958 and then the World Series at the Coliseum in 1959. I can’t recall the first meeting, and yet I can’t recall a time when I didn’t feel as though I knew him and considered him to be a friend.
“In reality for those of us who love baseball, or even those who have had a casual or summer time fling with the game, Vin always has been there. His voice has been the voice of Summer for so many thousands of fans, generations of fans, who live or have lived in Southern California.
“The thing about Vin is that you didn’t need a personal intro-
duction to know him. If you were a member of the media and saw him in the press dining room or in the press box there was always a warm and wel-
coming smile. You knew him instantly.
“The remarkable part is that the warmth in his voice and the incomparable talent to describe a baseball game connected him to the legion of fans who were listening to the game on the radio or watching on television.
“My close connection to Vin came in 1969 when I joined the Dodgers as the director of publicity. It was the start of a working relationship and a close personal relationship where my admiration grew by the day and by the quickly passing seasons.
“Seeing Vin on a daily basis during the season — in the press box, on the Dodger flights , during spring training and at numerous Dodger team events in the community — provided a first hand and close up look at Vin Scully, the man.
“There was one act of kindness that stands out in my mind as I think about Vin because it is symbolic of who he is. As the publicity director of the Dodgers, I was asked by a young man working for a radio station in the San Fernando Valley if he could interview Vin prior to a game and Vin, in his usual manner, agreed to help an aspiring reporter.
“When the young man came to the press box, I could see he was nervous and excited as I introduced him to the Dodger legend. After using his tape recorder for the interview for more than a half-hour, the reporter came to me with a trembling voice and near tears in his eyes. The despondent young man said: ‘I messed up and pushed the wrong button and have nothing on my tape recorder.’
“I went to Vin to explain what had happened and Vin’s reply was: ‘Let’s do the interview again.’
“ ‘Let’s do the interview again’ always has echoed in my mind as I think about Vin. Vin didn’t mention it but I knew of the admiration he held for Red Barber in providing help to a young announcer with bright red hair and even brighter dreams.
“Vin’s presence and voice has been connected to Dodger broadcasts since April 18, 1950, when the Dodgers played the Philadelphia Phillies at Connie Mack Stadium.
” ‘You feel blessed that you’ve lasted that long, that you’ve been allowed to do what you love to do for that long, and that my health has held up all those years,’ Vin said in 2010 when an Associated Press reporter was writing an article and discovered the date of the Hall of Famer’s first broadcast.
” ‘It’s humbling to think that you’ve been that fortunate and God has blessed you with that time,’ Vin said in recalling his start with the Dodgers and with the announcing team of Barber and Connie Desmond. ‘That first team (referring to 1950), the so-called ‘Boys of Summer,’ that was my graduating class. I mean, look at the team then. I had Don Newcombe, Gil Hodges, Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, Billy Cox, Roy Campanella, Duke Snider, Carl Furillo, Carl Erskine. That was such an amazing collection of players, so I guess that was the team that made the most impression on me.’
“From the Boys of Summer to the end of the Summer of 2016, Vin’s voice, credibility, integrity and humility has been the link in Dodger history.
“There are those who write and say how sad it will be when Vin’s voice is no longer with us. I disagree. Vin’s voice will always be there for those of us who cherish the man. The voice will live in our minds and in our hearts and we will tell the stories to others of the unforgettable individual who came into our lives and gave us much of his heart and his soul and his talent.”