Memories of 1950s Vin Scully photos on my living room floor

Vin Scully has been all over my living room floor for a few months and I couldn’t have been more excited.

To be honest, it wasn’t Scully herself that was stretched out on the carpet. My husband was collaborating on a book based on photographs by Barney Stein, who was team photographer for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1937 to 1957, and pictures of a young Scully were among the photographs scattered on our floor. How to choose which ones to publish when there are dozens of more wonderful photos than pages in the book could be?

Not every photo made it into Through a Blue Lens: The Brooklyn Dodger photos of Barney Stein, but every photo in the book is a gem. There’s Carl Erskine – luckily still with us at 95 – Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider, Gil Hodges. They were captured in their youth, at their sporting peak. Growing up in Brooklyn after the team left for Los Angeles in 1958, I’d heard stories about the ill-fated Bums. These photos added a new dimension to these stories, made them more alive, more real.

However, the photos of Scully kept me looking at them again and again during the selection process and long after the publication of the book in 2007, which was a collaboration between Barney Stein’s daughter Bonnie Crosby and my husband Dennis D’Agostino.

I can’t explain why I was fascinated by these Scully shots. Maybe it was because he was a living connection to a time I’d only heard about, a connection to long-dead relatives who had told me about a beloved baseball team that played in Brooklyn on a side I only knew , because she was unremarkable apartment building. Perhaps it was the clarity of the photos that captured Scully’s essence so well, so lovingly. He was hired as the Dodgers broadcaster in 1950 and in these photos is as young as the standout players whose performances he described at Ebbets Field.

For those of us who didn’t meet him until later, it was a fascinating glimpse into a time before he became a grandfather storyteller and television personality. He had seen so much baseball history and was still here, a gift to all of us.

When I heard of Scully’s death Tuesday at age 94, I pulled out the book and remembered staring at those photos all over the living room floor. As fans, we’ve known Scully for a long time. We’ve heard and watched him and laughed at his stories for decades, even after hearing them many times and knowing them almost as well as he does. Although we had the pleasure of his company for so long, it still wasn’t long enough.

Among the best photographs of him to make the book was a serious Scully, her face almost cartoonishly thin and long and her ears sticking out, staring into a television camera next to his friend Stein. When the photo was shown decades later, Scully surmised that it had been taken between plays of a doubleheader in the television studio set up in the basement of Ebbets Field.

In another photo taken in 1957, he was broadcasting a game at Ebbets Field and watching the action through a protective wire. Jerry Doggett sat on his left. Scully used a microphone but didn’t have a headset. He didn’t use a headset until he arrived in Los Angeles and resorted to it, he said, in part because of “the feedback from the transistor radios” in the stands tuned to his calls.

Perhaps my favorite photo is of him crouching in the Dodgers’ dugout before a game. He is smartly dressed in a blazer, tie, sunglasses and shiny penny slippers. Stein’s camera caught him mid-sentence, mouth open. Whatever he said got the full attention of Hodges, who was crouched nearby, leaning on a bat. Framed behind is the prominent scoreboard of Ebbets Field.

Scully didn’t remember the date or the topic of conversation that long-ago day. “Probably with a couple of writers as well,” he said. “It was easier back then where you could sit in the dugout and hang around and shoot the breeze and then go upstairs and do the game. Especially when it came to radio. [With] TV, I have to be there early to get all the stuff out of the way and then record it. So it was just one of those days where you just hung out.”

By reducing his travel schedule and workload, he managed to hang with us for 67 seasons through 2016. But over the years, many of the players, executives and writers he knew fell victim to old age or illness. The deaths of his second wife, Sandra, and former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda within days of early January 2021 must have left Scully feeling terribly alone. He mourned privately, this man who had lived his life so publicly and so well.

He is gone, but he will not be forgotten as long as video and audio recordings of his warm, rich voice exist in some form for us and future generations to enjoy. As long as it’s time for Dodger baseball, it will live on in our hearts, as will those beautiful photos that so briefly but memorablely covered the floor of my living room. Memories of 1950s Vin Scully photos on my living room floor

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