By Richard Cuicchi | April 10, 2016 at 07:40 PM EDT | No Comments
Vince Scully is arguably the most popular Dodger since the franchise moved West in 1958. He announced his retirement for the end of the 2016 season, and he won’t be hanging up baseball spikes, but rather his baseball microphone.
Scully’s field of play hasn’t been on the baseball diamond but instead in the broadcast booth, where he is starting his 67th consecutive year as the Dodgers’ broadcaster this season. He never hit a home run in a World Series or pitched a no-hitter, yet his calls of some of the most unforgettable moments in baseball history during his tenure are just as memorable.
Scully’s patented voice is addictive. Once you turn him on for a broadcast, he’s hard to turn off. With Scully, you get more than the just balls and strikes called on every play. His story-telling style sets the context for the player and the play with insightful stories and little gems of information that make listening to one of his broadcasts like sitting in a history class on baseball.
Scully’s voice has been likened to a musical performance because of the cadences and rhythm he employs to describe the baseball action. His musicality is what people often remember. It is little wonder he is often referred to as “The Voice.”
Since Dodger home games were two hours later than the time zone I live in, I have often gone to bed with ear plugs listening to Scully. I remember how he once described a tense situation in a game, “There’s 29,000 people in the ballpark and a million butterflies.”
While Scully has called a lot of home runs, he could never be called a “homer” (a broadcaster who shows bias for their home team). Scully says he learned early in his career to control his emotions and recognized he was broadcasting to fans of both teams. Thus, he’s been one of the most objective broadcasters as you’ll ever find.
Scully got his start in major league baseball in 1950, teaming with future Hall of Famer Red Barber to call Brooklyn Dodger games. When Barber resigned over a contract dispute with the Dodgers in 1953, Scully became the main guy behind the mike.
He moved to Los Angeles with the Dodgers in 1958, and he immediately endeared himself to new West Coast fans. At about the time hand-held transistor radios became popular, fans began bringing them to the ballgames to listen to Scully call the action.
The Yankees offered Scully a job in 1964 to take Mel Allen’s place in the broadcast booth, but he turned it down to stay in Los Angeles.
In addition to calling Dodger baseball games, the versatile Scully was also a broadcaster for football, tennis and golf. He teamed with color analysts like Hank Stram, Sonny Jurgensen, and John Madden to announce NFL games for CBS Sports. He paired with the ever-popular Joe Garagiola to do NBC’s Saturday Game of the Week broadcasts and Lee Trevino for NBC’s PGA Tour golf coverage.
Scully was behind the mike for such momentous games as Fred Lynn’s grand slam in the 1983 All-Star game, Ozzie Smith’s game winning home run in Game 5 of the 1985 NLCS, the first official night game in Wrigley Field in 1988, and Kirk Gibson’s dramatic home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.
Due to health reasons, around 2005 he began to limit his Dodger broadcasts to non-playoff games east of Phoenix. Lately, the 88-year-old has been calling approximately 100 games a season, including all Dodger home games and selected games in San Francisco, San Diego and Anaheim.
Baseball fans have one more year to hear “The Voice.” If Scully were still making all the Dodger road trips in this last season, I’m sure the Dodgers’ opposing teams and fans would be inundating him with adulation and fond farewells similar to the way Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter exited their careers.
So if you’ve never ever heard Vince Scully call a game, or it’s been a while since the last one, make a point to tune in one of his broadcasts sometime during the rest of his last season. It will certainly be a baseball memory to cherish for a long time.