August 9, 2022
Melinda Head

Vin Scully, Broadcaster Extraordinaire

He. Is. Gone

Vin Scully called Dodgers games for more than half a century. He was every fan’s personal window into the baseball diamond. He has been described as the greatest play-by-play man of all time.

“Vin is as beloved as the game of baseball itself.” (American Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame)

Scully was the voice of the Dodgers for 67 seasons, which included 25 World Series, 12 All Star games, 3 perfect games and 20 no-hitters. What a career.

And what an accomplishment for an 8 year old boy who thirsted for the roar of the crowd and dreamed of being a broadcaster.

Vin Scully as a boy (circa 1934)

He eventually went on to study English at Fordham University, where he played center field for the Fordham Rams. In addition to singing in a barbershop quartet, Scully called radio broadcasts on campus. After graduation, he sent out dozens of employment letters to radio stations and received only 1 response; lucky WTOP in Washington, D.C., hired him as a fill-in under the watchful eye of fellow redhead “Red” Barber, who became his mentor.

So, let’s see … Scully knew English inside and out, he knew how to sing, he intimately knew the game. What a great combination of skills for a baseball broadcaster!

Vin’s soundtrack to summer was a voice you never forget.

“Babe Ruth will always be defined as baseball. Vin will always be remembered as the voice of baseball.” (Charlie Steiner)

Everyone wanted Vin’s take on the game. A game wasn’t a game without his commentary, which went far beyond baseball facts.

"Statistics are used much like a drunk uses a lamp post: for support, not illumination." (Vin Scully)

He chose not to sell or brand himself, instead he focused on the game, the story, the moment and the shared experience. And he called some of the greatest moments in baseball history.

The master storyteller with poetic skills connected with each and every member of the audience in his unique, authentic all-American way. He was likened to “a gentle hand”, a “friendly neighbor”.

"Football is to baseball as blackjack is to bridge. One is the quick jolt. The other the deliberate, slow-paced game of skill, but never was a sport more ideally suited to television than baseball. It's all there in front of you. It's theater, really. The star is the spotlight on the mound, the supporting cast fanned out around him, the mathematical precision of the game moving with the kind of inevitability of Greek tragedy. With the Greek chorus in the bleachers!" (Vin Scully)

"Vin Scully has the most musical voice in baseball … Although his timbre is thin, everything is smooth and rounded. The words slide into each other. He has flow. The melody rises and falls on the tide of the game. You can almost hum along to Vin Scully. He's often referred to as baseball's poet laureate … the real metaphor for Vin Scully (is) painting. Other announcers can tell you what's happening on the field, and you can imagine it. With Vin Scully, you can see it. His command of the language and the game is so masterful that he always has just the right words to describe what's going on. He paints you a picture." (Gary Kaufman)

Baseball fans listened to Vin Scully on transistor radios even as they watched live games

“With Vin it was utter mastery, it was breathtaking. He seemed to understand inherently the pace and rhythm of baseball, he had the knowledge built over all those years, and the personal frame of reference and then, on top of the supreme talent, the eye for detail, the telling phrase, the command of the game. He provided a mesmerizing, melodic play-by-play. Radio is the theater of the mind, which Vin mastered and then replicated for television. People felt a fondness for him, they listened just because it was him” (Bob Costas)

In November 2016, President Barack Obama awarded Scully the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Obama recalled that Scully asked whether he was deserving of such an honor, saying that “I’m just an old baseball announcer.” Obama looked to the audience and then to Scully. “We had to inform him that to Americans of all ages, you are an old friend”

Vin Scully died this week at age 94. We thank you, Mr. Scully, for unifying America in your own very special way. A very pleasant good (afternoon/evening) to you, Vin, wherever you may be.

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About the Author

A serial entrepreneur, Melinda is a sociologist and statistician who believes there is no currency with greater value than knowledge

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