Greatest of All Time

4 August 2022


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Vin Scully, 1927-2022


For 67 years, Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers fans were privileged to have as their announcer the flawless Vin Scully. On Tuesday, he passed away at the age of 94. Just how good was he? It was quite common for fans to bring radios to the stadium so they could listen to him describe the game they were watching in person. And 95% of the time, he was alone in the booth. Or more accurately, it was Vin and us fans. "I want it to feel like I\'m talking to you," he used to say. "That\'s why you\'ll hear me use a lot of, \'Did you know that?\' or \'You\'re probably wondering why.\' I don\'t really do play-by-play. I do conversation." What great converastions they were.

The only guy who might have been better was Red Barber, the previous voice of the Dodgers. I know, there was Harry Carey in St. Louis and later Chicago. Ralph Kiner was the voice of the Mets. The could be good, and they were usually amusing. But they didn\'t have his command of the poetry of American English. Indeed, Vin Scully spoke the purest and most eloquent version of our language. Few actors or orators were better. And unlike them, his was all done without a script. Above all, he loved the game.

There were countless great calls in his 67 years at the microphone: Kirk Gibson\'s home run in against the Oakland A\'s in the 1988 World Series; Henry Aaron\'s 715th home run to beat Babe Ruth\'s record; Don Larson and Sandy Koufax\'s perfect games; and the Buckner game that lost the Boston Red Sox a World Series in 1986.

For pure joy, there is nothing like his call of Aaron\'s 715th. "What a marvelous moment for baseball, what a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia, what a marvelous moment for the country and the world. A Black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol. . . .  It is over, at 10 minutes after 9 in Atlanta, Georgia; Henry Aaron has eclipsed the mark set by Babe Ruth." America was a more hopeful country in 1974.

When I was about 5, my father took me to Dodger Stadium (located at 1000 Vin Scully Avenue). It was a warm summer day that makes southern California a paradise to those who grew up shovelling snow. And it was Bat Day. Every kid got a full-sized Louisville Slugger; I used mine thoughout my Little League career. But around the 4th or 5th inning, the 20,000 kids with bats decided to start banging them on the floor. It was so loud that the Public Address announcer had to ask us to stop because we were drowning out Scully\'s broadcast. I want to formally apologize for interrupting you, Vin.

Half a century later, my brother and I met in Phoenix where our father (a life-long Dodger fan) lives. We drove to LA (an old farts road trip) for a game. As it turned out, it was the night that Scully\'s Spanish-Language counterpart Jaime Jarrin was inducted into the Dodgers\' Ring of Fame. Scully had left the broadcast booth in 2016, and he returned for the first time for Jarrin\'s induction (after all, Jarrin started as El Voz de Los Doyers in 1958). The crowd went nuts.

For years, I would watch Dodger games broadcast by others (the usual trios of numskulls at Fox or NBC or wherever), and I would turn the sound off and listen to Vin by way of the internet when I could.

Above all, he knew when to shut up. When Aaron hit that home run, Scully went and got a cup of coffee because the crowd cheering was more eloquent than any single man could have been. When Gibson hit his home run in 1988, he said "In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened!" And then he said nothing for 68 seconds, again letting the crowd tell the story.

"There are two words to describe Vin: Babe Ruth," said Charley Steiner, the Dodgers’ radio play-by-play man since 2005 after moving west from the Yankees\' booth (2002-2004). "The best who ever did it. Babe Ruth will always be defined as baseball. Vin will always be remembered as the voice of baseball."

Rick Monday, the former outfielder and longtime Dodgers broadcaster, said most accurately "Whether we actually met Vin Scully or not, he was our friend."

So with apologies to Tom Hanks\' character Jimmy Dugan in "A League of Their Own," today, there is crying in baseball.

© Copyright 2022 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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