It’s been Venice Beach, Pink’s Hot Dog Stand, and Hollywood Bowl. He was Los Angeles, the sound of the summer, the poet laureate of the Dodgers—Brooklyn and Los Angeles—for 67 seasons.
We knew Vin Scully wouldn’t last forever. It just seemed like it could. Even in retirement, several years after his last broadcast in 2016, his presence remains as omnipresent and ethereal as the ocean and the air.
“You can describe Vina in two words: Baby Ruth,” said Charley Steiner, the Dodgers’ radio play-by-play man since 2005, who moved west from the Yankees’ dugout from 2002-04. “The best that ever did it. Babe Ruth will always be defined as baseball. Vin will always be remembered as the voice of baseball.
The wild ride that was Tuesday’s major league trade deadline ended suddenly and violently in the silence of that night when the Dodgers announced that Scully had died at the age of 94. The baseball life cycle, broken down into one day: New starts and sad. the end Scully’s health had been declining in recent months, and those who knew him well were preparing for the call. But when it came, it was still a stinging blow.
“It doesn’t make it any easier because we lost a friend,” former outfielder and longtime Dodgers broadcaster Rick Monday said. “Whether we actually met Vin Scully or not, he was our friend.
Like the best of friends, he was full of wonder, joy, humility and surprises.
“I wrote for The Times when I was in college, so you’ve probably seen my byline,” Scully said eagerly this summer, opening an interview with The New York Times. story about Gil Hodges, as if his days at Fordham University were so recent. It reads: Special Correspondent of The Times. I was under an assumed name. Anyway, I just wanted you to know my literary background.
Another time, late at night after an interleague game at Angel Stadium in 2013. at the beginning of the season, some members of the media were waiting for the press box elevator to go home for the evening when Scully joined them to get off. He was wearing a splint on his left hand and wrist, the result of tendinitis.
“I told someone earlier that I should just tell people that I’m interested in falconry and I’m waiting for a bird,” he said with a big smile. “That would make a better story, wouldn’t it?”
His instincts were perfect and his joie de vivre constant.
“He was such a good read,” Monday said. “He also knew English. When you listen to Vin, you feel like you should go back to school immediately. But he never talked to anyone. He was amazing.”
In one of his last public acts, Scully wrote a letter to the Baseball Hall of Fame Era Committee to support Hodges’ nomination for the Hall of Fame, a letter said to be highly influential. But the ever-humble Scully refused to believe he had enough clout to impress the voters, and he wanted no credit.
“Even when I was writing it, I was beaten up about it not being publicized to the point where I’m suddenly trying to get into the same spotlight because I didn’t want it at all,” Scully said this summer. “Yes, I wrote the letter and as far as I know it was true in every respect. But I don’t want to dwell on it at all.
“Now that I’m retired, I’m very sensitive. I just don’t want to do anything where it might come across as inappropriate for me.
But Scully’s “place” was everywhere, a welcome friend to all, starting with his warm invitation to “pull up a chair” at the beginning of every broadcast. And for nearly seven decades, from the mansions of Bel Air to the blue-collar jobs around the Southland, he built an incredible extended family on behalf of the Dodgers.
Monday grew up in Santa Monica, California, with a single mother who fell in love with the Dodgers when they played in 1958. moved west. Every time they sat in the car when the Dodgers played, Monday recalls, Scully was their companion.
“His voice was like a gentle hand on our shoulder saying, ‘Hey, it’s going to be okay.’ No matter what’s going on in the world, no matter what’s going on in your life, these next three hours I got you,” Monday said. “That’s the feeling we had.”
Millions of others have experienced similar emotions during those 67 years of Iron Man.
“I was impressed with this game and even more impressed with Vin’s voice and the way he presented the game,” said Monday. “His description of the uniforms, the field, how fast the guy ran, how hard the ball was hit, the diving catch he made. When Vin played the game, it wasn’t just the plays of the game, it was the hobbies of the game.
Monday, 1965 was the first overall pick in the first amateur baseball draft, taken by the Athletics, who traded him to the Chicago Cubs before the 1972 . the season.
“So the Dodgers finally go to Chicago and my mom gets to watch the game on TV,” Monday said. “It’s my seventh year in the majors and my mom heard Vin Scully mention my name. I said, “Mom, you didn’t even know I was in the big leagues until Vin mentioned my name.” She laughed. That made it official.
Los Angeles Times Magazine 1998 declared Scully the most trusted man in Los Angeles. Eight years ago, the late, legendary Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray declared that Scully was the most important Dodger of them all. Little has changed since then.
“Vincent Edward Scully meant as much or more to the Dodgers than any .300 hitter they ever signed, any 20-game winner,” Murray wrote in 1990. August. in the published column. “True, he didn’t limp off home plate and hit the home run that made the season a miracle, but he knew what to do with it to make it reverberate through the ages.”
When Kirk Gibson crushed a home run against Oakland’s Dennis Eckersley to set the tone for the Dodgers’ upset of Oakland in 1988. in the first game of the World Series, Scully exclaimed, “In a year that was so incredible, the impossible happened!”
He was silent for one minute and eight seconds, allowing the roaring Dodger Stadium crowd to fill the television speakers. The echoes continue to this day.
His sense of timing, story and moment was impeccable, whatever the occasion.
“He wasn’t just a speaker,” Steiner said. “He wasn’t just a baseball figure. He was a father figure, he was badass, he was a conscience, he was everything that we hope is right for the world. And more times he was.
Steiner continued, “Los Angeles is a city of stars. Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, you name it. I’ve long felt that Vin was the biggest star because of his longevity. No one has ever done it better and no one said it stinks. He was comforting, fatherly, angelic. He had a brilliant, impeccable mind.
After Tuesday night’s Dodgers-Giants game, Monday said he lay in his San Francisco hotel room until 5 a.m. going over the memories, alternately smiling and tearing up. According to him, when he travels somewhere with his wife, his wife often jokingly says that the place was not as good as in the brochure. “Vina Skulis was better than the brochure,” Monday said.
He recalled Scully’s last Dodger Stadium broadcast in 2016, when the icon beautifully serenaded the sellout crowd with “Wind Beneath My Wings” after the game ended. Utility worker Charlie Culberson tore up a storybook moments ago while running home. It’s easy to forget that wasn’t Scully’s last broadcast — the Dodgers ended that season with a three-game sweep in San Francisco.
There, Culberson had the now-famous bat with him. When he didn’t know what to do with it, Monday suggested Scully sign it. Culberson was shy, Monday asked, and Scully said he would be “honored” to sign it.
Monday accompanied Culberson upstairs to the San Francisco press box, where they met with Scully.
“It was unbelievable,” Monday said. “It was like two kids in the park exploring this magical bat wand. Vinny signed him and they were about to say goodbye when someone walked into the booth, but the man Vinny always said was the best player he’d ever seen was Willie Mays.
“Charlie and Vinny were already in tears and then Willie walks in and it’s like one of those time capsule moments.
“And then we get word in the third or fourth inning last night here, 60 feet from where it happened.