Vin Scully turns 90: Our top nine quotable story and column memories

On the occasion of Vin Scully’s 90th birthday Wednesday — he says he’ll spend it honoring Jackie Robinson in a Rose Bowl statue ceremony — we go back through the archives to find the nine most memorable columns and stories we have done about or with him over the last 30 years:

== Nov. 28, 2014: On the occasion of his 87th birthday and his reservations about retiring as a broadcaster:

“Remember the book by James Hilton called ‘Shangri-La (a 1933 novel that was made into a Frank Capra movie a short time later called ‘Lost Horizon’ starring Ronald Coleman and Margo Albert)? This plane crashes into the Himalayas of Nepal, and the survivors are met by Sherpa guides who take them off the mountain, during a terrible blizzard. The next thing you know they’re in the most beautiful valley in the whole world, absolutely magnificent — it’s Shangri-La.

“So now one of the survivors falls in love with this gorgeous girl in the valley. Finally, there comes a point when the survivors are restless and want to be rescued. So when they are rescued, this man decides to leave but he wants to take this woman back to civilization.

“When he announces his plan, the High Lama says that he can’t take her away from Shangri-La. He warns him that she is a lot older than she looks. She has only managed to stay her youthful age because she has lived in this valley for so long, and if she leaves, she’ll revert to her real age.

“But the man takes her anyway. And in the movie, there’s the scene where they’re leaving the valley, all dressed in winter clothes. The man is carrying the woman out on his shoulder. And then the camera zooms in on her. From under her hood, you can now see her face — and she looks to be 150 years old.

“I’ve often thought that when the time comes to leave baseball, I’ll have lived this sheltered, lovely existence where grown men leave a child’s game. It’s like Shangri-La. You leave it, and your real age catches up with you.”

== Oct. 2, 2016: His final goodbye during his final broadcast in San Francisco:

“May God give your every storm, a rainbow; for every tear, a smile; for every care, a promise and a blessing in each trial. For every problem life seems, a faithful friend to share; for every sigh, a sweet song and an answer for each prayer.

“You and I have been friends for a long time. … I’ll miss our time together more than I can say. But you know what? There will be a new day. And, eventually, a new year. And when the upcoming winter gives way to spring, rest assured it once again will be time for Dodger baseball. So this is Vin Scully, wishing you a very pleasant good afternoon, wherever you may be.”

== Sept. 25, 2016: On the final broadcast from Dodger Stadium, on why he wants to be known as “a man who lived up to his own beliefs”:

“God has been incredibly kind to allow me to be in the position to watch and to broadcast all these somewhat monumental events. I’m really filled with thanksgiving and the fact that I’ve been given such a chance to view. But none of those are my achievements; I just happened to be there. … I know some people won’t understand it, but I think it has been God’s generosity to put me in these places and let me enjoy it. …

“All I know is that I’m profoundly humbled and grateful to the Lord for the gift of being able to cover baseball for practically my whole adult life. When the time comes to sign off for good, I’ll look back with joy.”

== Feb. 25, 2000: Amidst a feature on Ernie Harwell, who had been the Brooklyn Dodgers’ broadcaster before leaving in 1949 to take a job with the New York Giants, Scully talks about how, at that time, he was at WTOP, a 50,000-watt radio station in Washington, D.C., as a summer replacement staff announcer from May to October of ’49. The station had offered him a permanent job in February of ’50, but then the Dodgers came calling:

“The station covered everything – it had game shows, disc jockeys, even two ‘presidential announcers’ – if the president had something to say, we had someone ready to go on the air and say, `Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States.’

“God only knows what would have happened (if Harwell stayed), but I suspect I would have worked for WTOP instead of joining the Dodgers, and I don’t know where that would have led.”

== April 9, 1999: On adapting to changes in the way baseball was being presented in the ballpark and on TV:

“What I’ve noticed is something that looks like an out-and-out appeal — a drive if you will — to get young fans. And today’s youngsters, I guess studies have shown they have the attention span of 30 seconds with the combination of push-button radio and remote control. And they love noise — the louder the better.

“And in ballparks all over the country, they play the most raucous rock and roll — even when the park is empty. Naturally, when you’re in the marketing business or controlling a network, you know you’ve got the older people, but you also want the young ones. So you make it loud – crash, boom, bam …

“So if that’s what kids want and it brings young fans in, go to it. And I just go with the flow. Maybe I don’t like all the pizazz. But I understand, or at least I think I do. I would feel much worse if they changed the game. But the packaging, the wrapping …. that’s another story.

“I guess the secret for me has been to accept the change. Yesterday is gone. Just like all those years at Vero Beach (the Dodgers’ spring-training site in Florida). That’s where I connect to this team so much more than in any other way. But it’s yesterday. They can always move the pictures to a new place. You have to keep adjusting to change.”

== From the same story, talking about one’s value to a broadcast:

“I’ve always felt a man’s job almost — almost — is the man. There’s so-and-so the doctor, or the lawyer … it’s so much a part of you. I think when you give it up, you lose something maybe not in the public eye, but your own self worth is challenged.”

== March 29, 2008: Going back to 50 years prior when he was calling games at the Coliseum, and the whole move from Brooklyn to L.A.:

“It really was a culture shock in the sense that L.A. was so big, and it was really a time of adjustment for everyone. The first thing we had to decide was: Where would we live? And looking back now on it, I remember every single time I’d ask directions to go somewhere, the person would say, `Turn this way, go that way, and it’ll take you about 25 minutes.’ I heard that constantly. Today, they’ll start giving you directions by saying, `It’ll take an hour, depending on traffic.”‘

== Nov. 16, 2016: On finding out he was one of the 21 recipients for the Presidential Medal of Freedom:

President Barack Obama presents Vin Scully with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, during a ceremony on Nov. 22, 2016 honoring 21 recipients in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

“I’m deadly serious — when I’ve been given a gift of 67 years of broadcasting, and then have to take a bow, I can’t think it’s something that I actually did, it’s really about the 67 years.

“It’s very nice and I deeply appreciate it, but when I heard about it, I said something like, ‘Are you sure you’re calling me?’ It’s not like I invented penicillin. I can’t stand in a spotlight as if I just saved a child from drowning.

“It really came out of the blue. What do I have to do with a presidential award?”

== Nov. 29, 2013: On why he agreed to become the Grand Marshall of the Rose Parade:

“At first, I may have been reluctant to accept … I’m not much for being in a parade, and maybe instinctively I shied away from it. But the more I thought about it, it is a rather prestigious moment and, gee, if I turned it down, it would probably hurt a lot of people’s feelings. I didn’t want to do that.

“It goes back to the old line about squeezing the juice out of life before life squeezes the juice out of you. This is the perfect moment to meet a lot of nice people, to see what’s going on, see the inner workings. I’m now excited and thrilled to be part of it.

“You know, I wrote for the nuns an essay when I was 8 years old on what I wanted to be when I grew up. The boys were all about being policemen and firemen and doctors and lawyers, while the girls were about nursing or ballet dancers or becoming mothers. There was no TV and just a few things on the radio, maybe a Saturday afternoon football game between Ohio State and Notre Dame. So when I said I wanted to be a sports announcer, that was way out in left field. So when I eventually got that job with the Dodgers, in December of 1950, when I was 23, it really was the fulfillment of a dream just 15 years later. That’s rather remarkable in itself. I have a great deal to be thankful for.”

== Dec. 30, 2016: The lead to a story naming him the Southern California News Group Sports Person of the Year:

“In early October, St. John’s Episcopal Church in Corona updated the “welcome” message on its street corner marquee. In addition to reminding worshipers about the times for the Sunday services, the clip-on letters spelled out a reminder: ‘Be Like Vin Scully … Notice And Praise The Good In Everyone.'”


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