Sports

‘It’s like your childhood … is now really over’: How Vin Scully bridged generations

Audri Sandoval Gomez was watching the Dodgers Giants game with her daughter Tuesday night when the announcer interrupted the news of Vin Scully’s death. Isabella, who was three when the legendary broadcaster retired in 2016, couldn’t understand why her mother had started crying.

Gomez, 40, tried to explain. A diehard Dodgers fan all her life, she wanted to talk about his storytelling, his poetry and the impact he had beyond describing ball games. But she kept thinking back to the beginning of her family when she came to this country from Mexico.

Scully’s voice on radio and television was in the living room day in and day out, bringing the generations of her family closer together as they cheered and moaned at his play-by-play reports and sat enchanted by the fabulous stories he told.

He called the game so beautiful, she recalled. His voice was magical, but he was also a bridge through time, bringing young and old together with easy-to-understand life lessons.

She turned to her daughter. There’s more to say, but for now, the introduction was easy.

“Do you know those famous words?” she said. It’s time for Dodger baseball.

Isabella nodded.

“Well, those were his.”

Isabella was stunned – “Did he say that?” – and Gomez knew that she had taken the first step and passed part of Scully’s life on to her daughter, just as her parents and grandparents had done for her years ago.

For nearly 60 years, Scully has captivated Angelenos with stories from Dodger Stadium and on the road, but his reach in their lives is measured less by the strength of that broadcast signal than by four generations mesmerized by the cadence of his voice and his improvised poetry.

Other cities had their Red Barber (New York) or Harry Caray (Chicago), but Scully belonged to Los Angeles. Arriving at just 30 years old, he grew up professionally in this city.

The city, if not the region, was rapidly modernizing and growing, and he was there to absorb it all – charming, captivating, and educating Dodgers fans through 11 presidents.

He helped carry Los Angeles through its tragedies, and whenever the city lost its voice – challenged by the riots of 1965 and 1992, earthquakes in Sylmar and Northridge, wildfires and recession – Scully could be counted on.

Baseball was his inspiration, and from opening day through fall he let its rules and logic set the tone for an understanding of life that often transcended sports.

“Baseball was a lot more to Vinnie than just a hit and miss,” said Zev Yaroslavsky, the former LA city councilman and borough leader, who recalls defying his father as a boy by listening to games at night in the bedroom and in the Beat fell asleep from Scully’s voice. “He was poetic and lyrical. He had this innate ability to paint a verbal picture worth a thousand pictures.”

Yaroslavsky recalls listening to a broadcast in 1959. He was 10 and Scully called an exhibition game between the Dodgers and the Yankees.

Before the start of the sixth inning, Scully described how it went dark in the Coliseum and 93,000 fans held up matches they had lit in honor of Roy Campanella, the Brooklyn Dodgers star catcher who was paralyzed in a car accident before spring practice in 1958. the year the team arrived in LA

“I couldn’t tell you five things about 1959,” Yaroslavsky said. “But Vin Scully calling the Roy Campanella candle game burned itself into my psyche, and that was the year my mom died.”

The rhythm of Scully’s speech and the simplicity of his tales filled the stillness of homes when explanations were too hard to find and parents might be at a loss for words.

A lifelong Dodgers fan, Lakewood resident Mary Alice McLoughlin grew up in Wilmington and her father worked for Union Oil. The Dodgers were always on the radio or TV during the summer, and in 1974, when she was 14 and her mother was dying of cancer, Scully’s voice—”that Irish tenor with a touch of New York”—was soothing.

“Having Vinnie there was like, ‘Okay, maybe it’ll be okay,'” she recalled. “Maybe the bottom didn’t fall from all over the world. His voice was so soothing. That made me feel like everything would be fine.”

As much as Scully was a historian and journalist—he researched every player, even the umpires—he was also something of a parent to younger listeners who thought they were listening to a baseball game but are learning about patience and humility, a respect for it of tradition and an appreciation of statistics and facts.

Don Cardinal, who grew up with the Dodgers in his Downey home in the 1960s, credits Scully with teaching him long division when calculating ERAs and batting averages. But he learned even more.

He too lost a parent early on, his father, and as a teenager he was angry. And Scully – in a calm and authoritative voice – guided him on a certain level, passing on wisdom normally shared by older members of a household.

“He wasn’t shy about helping us understand how to behave,” said Cardinal, who particularly admired that Scully talked about players from other teams as much as he did about the Dodgers. “He taught me that it’s okay to take care of your team – but not at the expense of the other team – and that appreciation of a good game is more important than political parties or someone’s skin colour.”

Scully also made it clear to his audience that baseball is just a game whose joy lies in seeing what players – all players – can achieve. He was never lecturing or clumsy, instead letting the story flow from the story and playing it right in the middle, no matter the stakes or how disappointing the loss.

McLoughlin cried at the memory of Scully. “It’s ridiculous,” she said. “He was 94. We all knew this was coming, but we all hoped it would be later rather than sooner.”

As she explained the feeling, she paused.

“It’s over,” she said. “It’s as if your childhood – which of course was over a long time ago – is really over now.”

And for Angelenos, that means saying goodbye to the man who touched so many families across generations.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-08-04/vin-scully-bridging-generations ‘It’s like your childhood … is now really over’: How Vin Scully bridged generations

Emma Bowman

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