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Iconic broadcaster Vin Scully was baseball’s merry poet laureate and so much more

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Photograph: Mark J. Terrill/AP

“Hello everyone! And a nice good evening to you, wherever you are.”

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Whether they were driving through LA traffic, lounging on their couch after work, cooking dinner or eating it, millions of Angelino residents turned on their TVs or radios at 7 p.m. to join a summer date night with Vin Scully.

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Scully who died on Tuesday at age 94, was the Dodgers’ broadcaster for 67 seasons before retiring in 2016. He moved with the team from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958 and spent almost seven decades inviting viewers and listeners to join him..

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Connected: Vin Scully, broadcaster for the Los Angeles Dodgers for 67 years, has died at the age of 94.

His solitary presence in the booth turned broadcasts into fireside conversations with millions of Angeleno residents and fans outside of greater Los Angeles who could find a tape of Dodger playing. Bob Costas called Scully the greatest baseball commentator of all time. Current Dodgers announcer Joe Davis said he is “the greatest storyteller that has ever been seen in modern history.” In November 2016, US President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Obama recalled that Scully asked if he deserved the honor, saying “I’m just an old baseball announcer.”

Obama looked at the audience and then at Scully. “We should have let him know that to Americans of all ages, you are an old friend.”

A child of New York, Scully was fascinated by college football radio broadcasts and the roar of the crowd that crackled over the AM radio. After graduating from Fordham University in the Bronx, Scully’s first professional assignment was a college football game between Maryland and Boston University at Fenway Park. There were no seats in the press box, so he announced the game from the top of the stadium. A year later, he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers and headed west when the team moved to Los Angeles.

Just as Scully found his calling on the airwaves, generations of kids wanted to become sportscasters because of him. Anytime between the dawn of spring and the sunset of summer, Scully entertained his audience with stories of his life, recounting the drama of Major League Baseball. West Coast fans remember Scully talking about light summer nights and backyard barbecues, East Coast fans remember him as the last voice they heard. before falling asleep.

Faced with some of the most dramatic moments of his career, Scully kept the viewers in a low profile and simply brought the story closer. After Hank Aaron’s home run announcement, which overtook Babe Ruth as the all-time Major League Baseball home run leader, Scully allowed 27 seconds to pass, leaving viewers with only the visual of Aaron skirting the bases, the merriment of the raging crowd, and the thunder of holiday cheer. fireworks. As soon as the teammates greeted Aaron, Scully resumed her story.

“What a wonderful moment for baseball. What a wonderful moment for Atlanta and Georgia. What a wonderful moment for the country and the world,” Scully said. “In the Deep South, a black man gets a standing ovation for breaking the all-time baseball idol record. And this is a great moment for all of us, and especially for Henry Aaron.”

After his historic “behind the sack! It’s going through Buckner!” call Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.Scully allows the New York Mets’ noisy crowd to broadcast for over three minutes before telling viewers that “if one picture is worth 1,000 words, you’ve seen about a million words.”

Dodgers fans can choose between any number of his legendary calls: when Sandy Koufax showed his perfect game in 1965, outing the last six batters in the process, Scully stated that “when Koufax wrote his name in capital letters in the record book, that K stands out.” even more than OUFAX.” When Dodgers sluggish slugger Kirk Gibson hit a home run to win Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, Scully graced the call with “In what was an incredible year, the impossible happened!”

Scully posted three great games and 25 World Series in his 67 years with the Dodgers. His impromptu brilliance shone through the most dramatic moments, but it was his day-to-day company that endeared him to the spectators, listeners, coaches and players he covered. He eschewed Homerism in favor of personal stories and history lessons. His languid storytelling complemented the methodical pace of baseball so viewers could learn about Hatshepsut, Alexander the Great and beard history, sea ​​pirate conquestor time a The player removed two rabbits from the insides of a rattlesnake.. Every story had a moral, and none of them came at the expense of what happened on the pitch.

For the wartime generation, he was an old friend; to baby boomers, he was a father figure; to the rest of us, he was grandparents reading bedtime stories

Scully preferred subtlety to bombast and adorned his broadcasts with a gentle sense of humor, never taunting his subjects. During one of the Dodgers’ broadcasts on April 20, he noted that today was Adolf Hitler’s birthday. before spitting into the microphone twice. Speaking of the bailout, he explained to the audience that an agitated player or manager thought the referee’s signal was “flashing fertilizer”. Once, he even read a fan’s shopping list.

At a 1981 golf tournament, he invited spectators to “raise a chair and watch the agony of a gentleman who hit a pothole at 14” as golfer Rick Mussengale takes seven hits to get out of a cavernous bunker. Nearly two minutes later, during which Scully turns to poetry and introduces Mussengale and his caddy’s internal monologues, Scully described the golfer as having “been hit by what looks like a meteorite that hit the left of the green at 14”. If the action on the field slowed down, Scully would offer listeners everything from one-man shows to history lessons to keep the broadcast going.

His passion for storytelling only increased as he entered the twilight of his seven-decade career. With the help of a dedicated research team, whom he often praised on radio broadcasts, weeknights and afternoons with Scully were a joyful journey through personal histories and old textbooks. For the wartime generation, he was an old friend; to baby boomers, he was a father figure; to the rest of us, he was like grandparents reading bedtime stories. Regardless of their age, every listener was delighted when Scully spoke.

It took him only four minutes to tell the story of Friday the 13th: Tuesday the 13th is considered unlucky in Mexico and Greece, and Friday the 17th in Italy. Just then, second baseman Mark Ellis comes up to the plate. “Luckily he wears number 14,” Scully says. “I’m not trying to be smart, I just thought you guys might find it a little interesting. Like you, I would be lost without Google.”

Vin Scully
Vin Scully at Dodger Stadium, 1987 Photograph: George Rose/Getty Images

When the Dodgers faced Pittsburgh pitcher Archimedes Caminero, Scully explained the science of Archimedes principle and his youthful geometry wrestling in less than 30 seconds. During a game by Arizona outfielder Socrates, Brito Scully summed up the death of the Greek philosopher Socrates in just two minutes. Did you know that Socrates could have escaped his captors but chose to stand trial if he was given a free nightly dinner? You may know that Socrates died after drinking hemlock, but did you know that hemlock was a member of the parsley family?

“It was the juice of that little flower that carried Socrates away,” Scully said as Brito swung and missed for the third blow. “A bad external field is pursued by Socrates. And he’s going down!”

Perhaps the most magical part of Scully’s personality and career was his plethora of fans who filled the stadium and tuned in to enjoy his broadcasts. Whenever the cameras focused on the children, Scully went crazy for them, as if they were his grandchildren. When cameras caught a toddler sucking his right thumb during a broadcast in September 2016, he read “Thumbs” by Shel Silverstein before the first pitch of the inning.

Even in death, Scully was a life lover who prompted so many touching thanks when the news of his death was announced on Tuesday. He was a few months short of his 90th birthday when he said, “No matter how much tomorrow I have, I’m spending today exactly the way I wanted to.” When asked by a reporter what he did on his first day of discovery as a retiree, Scully replied that he was busy with another national pastime: paying the bills.

When he signed forever in October 2016Scully looked into the camera and said “we’ve been friends for a long time, but deep down I know that I needed you more than you ever needed me and I will miss our time together more than I can say.” .” As Scully rises into the sky, which he might describe as “pink cotton candy with a blue canopy, good enough to eat”, the world misses Scully more than ever before: she has become a model of joy in the world anger and calmness in times of chaos.

Everyone knew that Scully would shine in the brightest light and the highest drama, but he was missed because he invited us to join him after our best or worst day, in times of joy or in times of sorrow. And for a few hours, Vin comforted us in the pleasant conditions of the press box, a necessary respite from the daily stresses of life.

And every night he invited us back to join him the next day when it was time for the Dodger baseball.


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