They have been Vin Scully’s colleagues in the Dodgers’ media-related front office. As “Vin Scully Appreciation Night” arrives along with memories of his greatest calls, here are more of their stories:
Mark Langill, the Dodgers team historian since 2002 as it was given to him by Derrick Hall, allowed us the pleasure of sharing an evening with him at the Sierra Madre Library recently for Vin Scully story time.
The former Pasadena Star-News Dodgers beat writer and Cal State Northridge journalism graduate who was born on the date of the Dodgers’ 1965 home opener (April 20) joined the organization in 1994.
He told us about how he had covered the Dodgers for six season and finally made his first road trip on a plane to Pittsburgh one July. He came out of the plane’s restroom and looked up — and there was Scully, “sitting in first class reading a thick military novel with his glasses half down on the bridge of his nose. He looked up and say, ‘Hiya, Mark.’
“It was one of those moments when it’s like going through the looking glass. It’s as if you’re now going to see behind the scenes of this incredible world you followed as a kid.”
Langill has plans of traveling to San Francisco to watch the final Dodgers-Giants games as a fan in the AT&T Park stands.
“I just want to be there, sit in the stands, listen to the broadcast later …” he said with a pause. “Just fly up there in the morning, enjoy the game, then hurl myself into the bay and it’ll all be over.”
Langill’s dry humor goes to this extreme: “If I was in the electric chair and he was doing the call, I’d be rooting for him because he always makes it sound so interesting and exciting.”
He shares more thoughts on Scully’s retirement:
“How could 44 years have flown by since picking up a transistor radio at age seven and hearing a magical voice describe baseball games and tell stories? Today I have a dream job as the ‘team historian’ of the Dodgers, although sometimes the feeling is ‘team dinosaur’ when interacting with some colleagues as we collectively cope with Vin Scully’s impending retirement.
“Working to the left of my office cubicle is 20-something-year-old Justine Woerner, a first-year member of the Premium Services department who, like Scully, grew up rooting for the Giants as a kid. It’s fun to hear about this season’s Woerner family soap opera unfolding in the Bay Area, the patriarch a devoted San Francisco diehard trying to cope with a daughter proudly bleeding Dodger Blue. Maybe she’ll take the replica Willie Mays jersey out of mothballs when she attends the season finale on October 2 in San Francisco. Even Scully would give her a pass on that wardrobe selection – he termed Mays as the best player he ever saw.
“Directly behind my cubicle is public relations associate Miranda Perez, an Arizona State graduate who grew up a Dodger fan in Riverside. Like rookie All-Star shortstop Corey Seager, Perez appeared a natural for her job since Day One, whether calmly fielding a frustrated fan’s phone call the morning after a tough loss or distributing statistics and other information in the press box in the afternoon.
“Perez is also the first public relations associate who was born after I started working for the Dodgers in January 1994. Her arrival from Planet Youth provided new terminology to a collector of dusty reference books. For example, ‘deuces’ is an apparent type of farewell slogan, an updated version of ‘peace out’” And if she approves of one’s shoe selection, the complimentary message will be ‘nice kicks.’
“But the common bond we share is the privilege of seeing Scully work behind the scenes. Bridging generations, Scully is the shining example of someone finding a job he truly loved while being gracious and generous to those around him. He also lives by the philosophy of Sir Laurence Olivier when preparing daily for his work: ‘Have the humility to prepare and the confidence to pull it off.’
“At the start of his last homestand, Perez asked about my favorite Vin Scully call. It was tough to think about just one highlight because Scully’s presence has always been part of the landscape like sunlight and running water. I decided the most memorable period was ‘Fernandomania’ in 1981 when a rookie pitcher from Mexico won his first eight Major League starts, five by shutout. Scully’s tone showed the fans that he, too, was along for the ride as lefty Fernando Valenzuela took the baseball world into unchartered waters.
“I excitedly told Perez about listening to my record album of 1981 highlights over and over during the offseason, eventually memorizing Scully’s descriptions of Valenzuela’s Opening Day shutout and his eighth victory in mid-May, courtesy of a Pedro Guerrero walk-off home run in the ninth inning. ‘Valenzuela has now tied the Major League record of eight-and-oh,’ I slowly said in a Scully impersonation mixed with drama and cheer. ‘And who is to say when it will end …’