Vin Scully, who was the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1950 to 2016, engaging in what he called "a running commentary with an imaginary friend" about the sport that he started listening to on the radio during the Great Depression, has passed away. He was 94.
For Southern Californians, Scully provided the soundtrack for countless summers, his sonorous voice becoming inextricably linked to the game of baseball and the City of Angels.
From the Los Angeles Times appreciation:
"Fans learned to trust him when the team struggled and he wasn’t afraid to say so. After television took over, his broadcasts retained a familiar tenor; belonging to a generation before instant replay, he still used words to paint a picture. Every game included shots of children in the stands. Every at-bat, it seemed, prompted a quip.
"Talking about an opposing player, Scully once said: 'Andre Dawson has a bruised knee and is listed as day-to-day. ... Aren’t we all?'
"Describing the great Bob Gibson, who worked fast on the mound, Scully noted: 'He pitches as though he’s double-parked.'
"During a mediocre season in 1990, he said: 'The Dodgers are such a .500 team that if there was a way to split a three-game series, they’d find it'."
And, regarding one of Scully's most memorable broadcasts - of Sandy Koufax's 1965 perfect game, the Times writes:
"As Koufax worked his way through the inning, pitch by pitch, Scully provided a spellbinding account. No detail escaped the announcer’s eye: Koufax hitching up his belt and mopping his brow, the other Dodgers pitchers pressing against the bullpen fence to watch, fans hollering for a strike every time.
"'There’s 29,000 people in the ballpark and a million butterflies,' Scully said, adding later: 'A lot of people in the ballpark now are starting to see the pitches with their hearts'."
- KC's View:
I grew up in the New York metropolitan area, and while I was alive during the final years that the Dodgers and Giants played in New York before moving to the west coast, I don't remember them. For me, the voices of summer during my youth were Mel Allen, Red Barber, Phil Rizzuto and Jerry Coleman, and later, when the Mets were born, Ralph Kiner, Lindsey Nelson and Bob Murphy. These days, I'm lucky enough to be able to listen to Howie Rose call Mets games on the radio, and Gary Cohen Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez on television.
And yet, as I write this I feel like I've lost a friend, a reassuring voice that painted word pictures about the game I love, the greatest game, a game that lends itself more than any other to on-the-air wordsmithing. I listened to Scully when I went to college in Los Angeles, and loved tuning in to his broadcasts on many trips to LA. Calling him the "poet laureate" of baseball may seem too grand, so let's just stick with "baseball preeminent storyteller," blessed with a distinctive voice and a sensibility perfect for baseball.