Column: Vaya con Dios, Vin Scully — a beacon of possibility in L.A.

When legendary Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully passed away yesterday, I didn’t have to turn on the TV, check social media, or hit sports bars to know just how much Southern California is in mourning.

I just checked my SMS.

My brother sent me a bunch of crying emojis. My cousin Vic admitted he had tears in his eyes as he broke the news to his wife. My cousin Plas — an Angels fan of sorts — added a video of someone pouring whiskey from a bottle and captioned it “RIP to the God.”

My good friend Bobby texted me a black and white photo of Scully—nothing else. My sister Elsa, who owns a Yorkie named Vinny, told me to mention in everything I write that Scully died on the feast day of Our Lady the Queen of Angels – the devotional title of the Virgin Mary who named Los Angeles Has. And my sister Alejandrina — an Angels fan for some reason — countered with a link to a YouTube video of Scully, a devout Catholic, praying the Rosary, which we Arellano kids heard immediately as we prayed for his soul.

Those sobs you hear relate to hundreds of thousands of Latinos in Southern California mourning the loss of one of us. Along with the late Kobe Bryant – another local sports legend with a huge Latino fan base – no other Southern California non-Latino luminary will ever evoke the same emotion in us.

Vin Scully was more than just the soundtrack of our lives. He was our life.

Vin Scully holds a microphone in front of a baseball field.

Vin Scully rehearses in July 2002 before the Dodgers take on the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix.

(Paul Connors/Associated Press)

He was the son of immigrants, like so many of us. He grew up working class like too many of us. He excelled, like all of us.

When the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, Scully left everything he knew for a foreign country. He came to what was then one of the whitest cities in the United States and saw it transform into the multicultural metropolis it is today thanks to newcomers like him. He was with five generations of my family – from my 99-year-old grandmother to my cousins’ grandchildren – settled in the Southland and all grew up with his gospel.

Like so many Latinos, Scully came to a city full of opportunity and made the most of it. And he did it humbly, always greeting others in front of him, always preferring family to the limelight.

From the start, he accepted Latinos in a way that the rest of Los Angeles has had to learn far too much: as people. He could have butchered the names of the many Latino players who have passed through the franchise or on opposing teams over the decades, but he was careful to pronounce them correctly. He could have kept his Dodgers colleague, Spanish-language broadcaster Jaime Jarrín, at a distance, but he hugged him like a brother and insisted the rest of the world acknowledge Jarrín’s brilliance when few would.

“He’s not the Spanish Vin Scully,” Vinnie told my editor Hector Becerra in 2013. “He is what he is, Jaime Jarrín. He stands on his own two feet. He’s a Hall of Fame announcer and a wonderful person.”

Vin Scully smiles with Jaime Jarrín

A retired Vin Scully joked with Spanish Dodgers broadcaster Jaime Jarrín in 2018 during a pregame ceremony in which Jarrín was inducted into the ring of honor at Dodger Stadium.

(Jayne Kamin-Oncea / Getty Images)

Whenever he threw in a few Spanish phrases, your ears perked up and a huge grin spread across your face. When he called former Dodgers player Yasiel Puig a “wild horse,” they laughed because his gentle rant was in the same tone our grandparents used towards our wayward cousins. One of the many clips currently playing on local television dates back to 1990, when Fernando Valenzuela – another Dodgers Latino icon – threw a no-hitter. As the southpaw and his teammates celebrated, Scully exclaimed, “If you’ve got a sombrero, throw it to the sky.”

Anyone else would say it, you’d wince. But he was our redhead tío.

He was the framework around which so many Latinos built their Southern California identity. His long, repetitive stories, narrated in that unforgettable troubadour voice, were like what our aunts and uncles would tell a group of us cousins ​​​​late into the night, us with history, triumphs and tragedies in ours Cast a spell and connect everyone to something bigger. Many of my colleagues learned English from Scully – like mine jefe Hector once wrote that there is no better teacher than Warner Bros. cartoons.

Scully was even a rite of passage. At some point you began to prefer Scully to Jarrín – not because one was better than the other, but because English was now the language you understood better.

I will always associate Scully with family, and not just because nearly all of my cousins ​​and siblings are Dodgers fans. I used to watch TV games in the living room with my dad as a kid and the same thing with my younger brother as a teenager. Growing up, there were few things I loved more than driving back from a mission far away — Santa Barbara, Bakersfield, San Diego, or Coachella — so I could listen to a Dodgers game in its entirety on AM radio , from his trademark opener, “It’s Dodgers Baseball Time!” whatever eloquent farewell he may offer on any given evening, wherever I may be.

When Scully announced his final season in 2016, my friends asked me if I could get them a private audience with him, even though I didn’t cover sports and only covered Orange County at the time.

They asked even though they knew I would say no because Scully meant so much to them. Instead, we reveled in the stories of my colleagues and friends who cover baseball, all of whom said the station was exactly the gentleman we had hoped it would be.

That was all my friends needed.

We all mourn Scully today and for the rest of this baseball season, just as we mourn the loss of our elders – the loss of an era, the loss of our innocence. The realization that life goes on and that our heroes are not immortal – but that our time with them has changed us for the better and it is time to continue their legacy. We can’t all be broadcasters, but we sure can be good people like Scully.

Vaya con DiosVinny. Column: Vaya con Dios, Vin Scully — a beacon of possibility in L.A.

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