Vin Scully is so synonymous with Los Angeles that you can forget that he broadcast games for the Dodgers for seven seasons before they came west. Some oldtimers still remember him fondly in Brooklyn, and Vin is enjoying his visit back home this week. He grew up in the Bronx and Washington Heights and played ball for Fordham, also starting in broadcasting there. He gets some nice attention as a local boy who made good in today's New York Times.
Scully left behind more than his legacy of calling Brooklyn games and succeeding his mentor, Red Barber, as the lead announcer. He has existed as the ultimate, even unattainable measuring stick for succeeding generations of student sportscasters at WFUV, the Fordham University radio station.
“There was almost a mystical aura about him when I was there,” said Michael Kay, class of 1982, and the play-by-play announcer for the Yankees on the YES Network. “You spoke of him in reverential terms.”
Scully has not been to New York in three years, as his contract relieves him of traveling farther east than Denver. He’s two months from 79, and that’s fine by him, even though he has to spend time away from his wife, Sandy, and his family, which is awaiting its 17th grandchild. He is signed through 2008.
“After that, God knows,” he said. “If you want to make God smile, tell him your plans.”
He said he cannot comprehend retirement, except by illness.
“After 57 years, this is my life,” he said. “A man really determines himself by what he does. I wonder how a man feels when he isn’t defined.”
As much as he has defined baseball in Los Angeles, he seems to miss — at least a little — what he left behind 59 years ago. On Tuesday, he walked from his hotel with his old Dodgers’ pal, Billy DeLury, to St. Patrick’s Cathedral for a prayer (not for a Dodgers’ win, he insisted), then to the Lamb’s Theater on 44th Street where, in its earlier incarnation as a fraternal club for actors, Scully had his bachelor party before his first marriage.
His hotel is not far from the offices of The New York Times, where he was a telegraph office boy, ripping wire copy, in the summer of 1944.
At the time, Scully said, he considered being a writer, but his later experience on WFUV cured him of that aspiration. The decision looks like the apt one, given how a number of his calls, literate because of his education and pungent for his dramatic and musical delivery, are among the best in sports.
Photo: Andrew Gombert for The New York Times