He was the soundtrack of a city, the muse of millions, the voice of home.
Vin Scully is gone, but he will never be silenced.
Forever it will be heard on soft spring afternoons, a serenade of rebirth, a song of hope.
“It’s Dodger Baseball Time!”
On warm summer nights he will always let the music of the family, the texts of life, ring out.
“Hello everyone, and a very pleasant good evening, wherever you may be. . . .”
Scully passed away Tuesday at the age of 94, but his poetic tale of Los Angeles’ most enduring sports franchise will forever linger in our hearts.
He was officially the television and radio broadcaster for Dodgers Baseball for 67 years, from the moment they arrived in town in 1958 until his retirement in 2016.
Unofficially, he was a guy who sang show tunes on his commute, attended the weekly mass in front of the Dodgers’ clubhouse, and spent afternoons sitting by his backyard pool and teaching his kids and grandkids how to swim game after game.
Officially, he existed behind a microphone in a tiny, cramped booth high above home plate at Dodger Stadium, reluctant to be featured on the video board, and happy to be the anonymous narrator, never once mentioning that on his bobblehead night it was his bobblehead night.
Unofficially he was everywhere.
He was such a part of the fabric of this city that his voice was a real landmark, a lilting Hollywood sign, a poetic Griffith Park, a storytelling Santa Monica Pier.
Travelers returning to Los Angeles often had the same experience driving from LAX. When they heard Vin Scully on the radio, they knew they were home.
He became a faithful companion and lovable friend to generations of Angelenos who grew up with him in their cars, in their living rooms, and by their beds.
Describing her favorite team’s game while interjecting life lessons disguised as baseball stories, Scully became the eyes, ears, and conscience of a town.
He was more than a sports announcer; He became the most trusted public figure in the history of that city. He wasn’t just the biggest Dodger broadcaster, he was the biggest Los Angeles Dodger, period.
Perhaps his only misguided act of his tenure, his last public words in his final game at Dodger Stadium were a recording of him serenading the crowd with “Wind Beneath My Wings.”
Misled because we should have sung it to him.
His words were indeed the inspiration that lifted a community, and his inclusive embrace of the diverse Dodger Nation forged a connection that was felt far beyond the baseball field.
He spoke to us all in a language everyone understood, and his public embrace of players from Sandy Koufax to Fernando Valenzuela to Hideo Nomo to Yasiel Puig set the stage for Dodger Stadium to be the most Los Angeles-centric venue the world will. Every summer night, the multicultural crowds of Chavez Ravine look like our town because Scully made them comfortable in our town.
The only Dodgers star he never publicly hugged was himself.
“I know I’m just an ordinary man, I really am,” he once told me. “I would prefer to go quietly.”
Yet today his loss is as deafening as his humility was amazing.
He never wrote a book because he couldn’t imagine that anyone would want to read about him. He never seriously listened to offers to become a purely national station because he was always lucky enough to have the Dodgers want him.
He was so humble that he used his full name every time he called you.
“Bill, this is Vin Scully,” he would say, and you would invariably laugh because you knew it was him from the moment he said “Bill.”
He was so unaffected that for years his voicemail recording was his actual voice, prompting the caller to leave a message.
A confession: sometimes in the winter I would call him for no other reason than hearing that voicemail and dreaming of spring.
Another confession: Like many of his acquaintances, my most compelling Scully memories are of words he meant only to me.
He called last summer when I was on hiatus due to COVID-19 and – after announcing it was confidential – he and his wife Sandi gave me advice on treatments.
He called after every story I had ever written about him and – after announcing it was confidential – thanked me profusely while Sandi thanked me in the background.
I called him once when I heard that he had embarrassingly lost his 1988 World Series ring in a bag of Costco Ribs. He called back and said he wasn’t sure if he wanted it written because nobody would care. He then shrugged and said, “Oh why not, everyone can relate to Costco,” and entertained me with the story of how he pushed a Costco cart while Sandi was shopping.
“I’m the donkey, but I’m really, really good at it, I can cut all sorts of corners with this car,” he told me. “I tell Sandi, ‘Stay out of the way so I don’t run this truck over your heels!’ ”
Scully lost the ring while on a Christmas shopping spree, prompting him to answer a fellow shopper’s question about which was more exciting, Costco or a baseball game?
“I told him it’s Costco because the outcome is really iffy,” he said.
Sandi eventually found the ring at the bottom of the meat bag, an interesting ending that made for a magical story, the kind Scully told during the games. He was so adept at spinning yarn about everyone from Abraham Lincoln to Jackie Robinson to Clayton Kershaw that fans eventually became more interested in the stories than the game. He’s certainly the only baseball station in history whose audience cheered for two fouls so he could finish his story before the commercial break.
“God is very good,” he once told me. “It’s like he’s hitting those lazy balls for me.”
But he also knew the perfect time to be quiet. He grew bigger than the game, but he always stepped aside for the game. In fact, his most theatrical invocation is just as famous for what he didn’t say.
Before announcing Kirk Gibson’s 1988 World Series homer “In a year so unlikely the impossible has happened” as Gibson rounded bases to thunderous applause, he was silent for a minute and eight seconds.
Covered by Scully’s constant smile and playful laugh was a story of personal tragedy. His first wife, Joan, died of an accidental overdose of cold and bronchitis medicine. His son Michael died in a helicopter crash in 1994 at the age of 33. Then, in January 2021, Sandi died of complications from ALS.
“The main thing is that I want people to remember me as a good man, a good husband, a good father, a good grandfather,” he said. “That’s the most important thing of all.”
This became evident when, after interviewing for a magazine article I was writing, Scully asked me not to call his kids for quotes because he didn’t think they wanted to be disturbed. His children found out about his misguided request and called me.
“I don’t care what my dad said, I can’t let you write a story without telling you how amazing he is,” his daughter Catherine said.
Throughout it all, for nearly seven decades, he has continued to share and embrace for the millions who have listened to him for a minute or a lifetime. For this he was revered like an icon and loved like an uncle at the same time.
What other broadcaster would get the most objective people in the stadium to applaud? Before each series, he was publicly greeted by the four umpires from their gathering place around home plate.
But what were the favorite calls from other stations from children playing in the stands? He once complimented a little girl’s enthusiasm before she was seen picking her nose.
“Ah yes keep shining my dear,” he said before realizing what was happening, “and no nose picking, not on camera, oh no!”
We’ve laughed with him, marveled with him, learned from him, grown with him, bonded through him, and Los Angeles and the Dodgers will never be the same without him.
Perhaps Vin Scully’s life is best summed up in the entirety of his trademark Home Run Call, in which he majestically described the action before letting the rest of us steal the show.
He was our soundtrack. He was our song.
“High to left midfield and deep . . . a way back. . . and it’s gone!”
https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2022-08-02/plaschke-vin-scully-voice-serenade-of-rebirth-live-on-forever-los-angeles Vin Scully’s voice, a serenade of rebirth, to live on in L.A.