The Wordsmith Of Balls And Strikes

vscully

When I briefly lived in Las Vegas in a couple of mistimed and under-funded ventures in 1996 and 2000, one of the things that got me through some long days was listening to Los Angeles Dodger games on the radio on Sin City’s big AM station, 720 KDWN.

I had known of Vin Scully through his nationally televised work of not just calling baseball games. People often forget that he called NFL games and PGA Golf on CBS, too. He called the famous playoff game that turned out to be a historical focal point in NFL lore when the 49ers beat the Cowboys 28-27 that marked the birth of San Francisco’s football dynasty. The punctuating moment was, of course, the Dwight Clark catch with under a minute left for the decisive score.

There was that game at Shea Stadium in 1986 where the Red Sox appeared to have a World Series won, but the Mets had other plans. (Some YouTube whiz put Scully’s call of that Met 10th inning of Game 6 to an RBI Baseball video game.)

Another magical night captured by Vin’s audio artistry was Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, where another improbable improv played out with one swing of an ailing Kirk Gibson’s bat.

Sunday will be Scully’s last game behind the microphone at Dodger Stadium. His last game overall will be the following Sunday in San Francisco as the Dodgers travel to face the Giants.

When his announcing career began with the Dodgers at the start of the 1950 season, they still called Brooklyn home, and my mother was less than a year old. (Oops, just gave away her age.) He called the only perfect game in World Series history, when Don Larsen retired 27 Brooklyn hitters in a row in 1956. Sixty years later, he’s calling Dodger games on local cable TV with no second man in the booth to analyze or to play off of.

He’ll be 89 in a couple of months, but the sports broadcasting world will likely never be the same once he calls his last pitch. If you’ve never heard Scully call a Dodget game, you can’t fathom just how good he is as a broadcaster, even to this day. He should be thanked (and has been) for his contributions to the game, and if and when the Dodgers ever move out of Chavez Ravine, Vin Scully Stadium would be a great name for the new park in an era of corporate greed.

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