SI: The finest baseball announcer that ever lived

si-cover-vin-scully-crop.jpgThrough the years, Sports Illustrated has gotten it about Vin Scully. Joe Posnasnki did a nice piece in 2010 that understood the place he holds in the fabric of Los Angeles, and the same year posted perhaps the best gallery of elapsed time. Richard Hoffer was there in 2008, and now in the second month of the final season, Tom Verducci takes his turn. His role is to wrap things up, to begin saying goodbye and thanks, and to explain to the rest of country what's going on here. He mentions that Scully has broadcast nearly half of the Dodgers games ever played, "this for a franchise that was established in 1890." He explains why it was that Los Angeles listened to Scully's first years in Los Angeles on transistor radios, even sitting in the seats at the games. And so much more.


Vin Scully is only the finest, most-listened-to baseball broadcaster that ever lived, and even that honorific does not approach proper justice to the man. He ranks with Walter Cronkite among America’s most-trusted media personalities, with Frank Sinatra and James Earl Jones among its most-iconic voices, and with Mark Twain, Garrison Keillor and Ken Burns among its preeminent storytellers.

His 67-year run as the voice of the Dodgers—no, wait: the voice of baseball, the voice of our grandparents, our parents, our kids, our summers and our hopes—ends this year. Scully is retiring come October, one month before he turns 89....

It is as difficult to imagine baseball without Scully as it is without 90 feet between bases. To expand upon Red Smith’s observation, both are as close as man has ever come to perfection.


I see it in his eyes. Vin is about to go on a trip. It’s the kind of trip that is heaven for a baseball fan: Vin is about to tell a story. For a listener, it’s like Vin inviting you to ride with him in a mid-century convertible, sun on your arms, breeze on your face, worries left at the curb. Destination? We’re good with wherever Vin wants to take us....

Here is more of what sets Scully apart: his literate, cultured mind. Scully is a voracious reader with a fondness for Broadway musicals. He doesn’t watch baseball games when he’s not broadcasting them. “No, not at all,” he says. He has too many other interests.

He once quoted from the 1843 opera The Bohemian Girl after watching a high-bouncing ball on the hard turf of the Astro­dome: “I dreamt that I dwelt in marble halls.” When he appeared with David Letterman in 1990 he quoted a line from Mame. He suggested a title if Hollywood wanted to turn the 1980s Pittsburgh drug trials into a movie: From Here to Immunity. Last week, during a game against the Padres, he offered a history on the evolution of beards throughout history that referenced Deuteronomy, Alex­ander the Great and Abraham Lincoln.

Also Verducci: "When Scully calls his last game—either the Dodgers’ regular-season finale on Oct. 2 in San Francisco or, if they advance, a postseason game—we lose not just the pleasure of his company with baseball but also the last vestige of the very roots of baseball broadcasting, when Renaissance men brought erudition to our listening pleasure." His last game would be in San Francisco? I don't think so.

In the piece, Rick Monday says that at this year's final Dodger Stadium opener, after Koufax and Newcombe and the other old-timers on the field retreated to give Vin a moment with the crowd, “I looked at him and I saw a look I never saw before. It was emotional. He never lost it, but it was wistful.”

More by Kevin Roderick:
'In on merit' at USC
Read the memo: LA Times hires again
Read the memo: LA Times losing big on search traffic
Google taking over LA's deadest shopping mall
Gustavo Arellano, many others join LA Times staff
Recent Place stories on LA Observed:
'In on merit' at USC
Olde-time L.A. journalism
New seasons of SoCal Connected, Lost LA on KCET
Bimini Baths in 1927
Four lion kittens found and tagged in Simi Hills
Vivid memories of the Ambassador Hotel, RFK and Donald Trump
Your Facebook info and the Trumps-Russians. OJ speaks. So much more.
Nate 'n Al's in play, sexual abuse of swimmers, cougar kills horse