Sportscasters have a lot of money and some fame. They are looking for universal love. At the moment of their greatest success, they wonder why they failed to convince every last Twitter account that they are talented and worthy. None of them will ever sell, except maybe Vin Scully.
Long before his death on Tuesday at the age of 94, Scully was the rare announcer with an approval rating close to 100%. Scully was loved by the graying baseball flame keepers. Angelenos and non-Angelenos. By media writers who beckoned him to come out of the bullpen and announce a World Series inning before he retired. Even the owners of the Old dead spin collected my thoughts about socialism and drugs. I believe there are announcers who can announce a baseball game with a semblance of Scully’s prowess. Few will make viewers want to hug them.
What attracted sympathy in Scully, first of all, was his demeanor, which was good-natured until he became a grandfather. Listen to Scully calling Kirk Gibson. jumping homer in the 1988 World Series. “Fly the ball high into right field,” he said, and there was electricity in his voice, “she’s gone!“She” is something else, a pronoun that Scully managed to smuggle into the 80s.
Scully has always offered a portal to baseball’s past. He looked like journalist Joe Poznansky in a light blue blazer. Kurt Smith biography notes that as a child, Scully liked to crawl under the family radio to be surrounded by the sound of distant games. Scully went to college at Fordham (later a way station for Mike Breen and Michael Kay). In 1950, the Brooklyn Dodgers gave him a spot on the broadcast team. Five years later, at age 27, Scully said, “Ladies and gentlemen, the Brooklyn Dodgers are the world champions.”
Viewers may love announcers for their wit (Al Michaels) or invigorating, full confession (Joe Buck). On the air, Scully offered nothing but smiles. “I’m a great cover,” he said. said Rick Reilly in 1985 “I don’t talk about my sadness. … [Tommy] Lasorda always tells me: “You are always happy.” Well, I’m not always happy, but I try to act the way I am.”
Scully’s career had taken a turn for the worse, leaving his frozen smile in place. In 1975, when he moved to CBS nationwide, the Dodgers allowed him to remain on their broadcasts. Most announcers are known for their team logo or emblem on the network’s blazer. Scully wore both, and it made her look bigger.
Gibson was 60 the night Scully hit Gibson, just seven years older than Buck today. But the following year, NBC lost the rights to baseball. This was the last time Scully called out the World Series on TV.
After that, Scully mostly retired to the Dodgers, where he spent the next 28 years aging gracefully in front of the people who loved him unconditionally. Few critics wondered if Scully lost his fastball, no. Funhouse Twitter account, there is no demand for a succession plan. It always amused me when people who have never lived in Los Angeles talk about how to drive around and listen to Scully on a summer night. Hiding out on the West Coast, Scully has become more than an announcer. It has become a collective memory.
Study Scully’s career and you’ll see that the TV industry has shown him no more reverence than any other broadcaster. Scully called Dwight Clark’s catch in the 1982 NFC Championship Game. “I got on the plane flying home and thought, ‘You know what? Couldn’t be better.” – Scully said after. “It would be a great game to leave. And so by the time that plane landed, I was out of football.”
In fact, that season, CBS pitted Scully against Pat Summerall in a public competition to see who would be the best partner for John Madden. The network decided that Scully and Madden were shooters who would not work well together. So Summerall got a mid-career turbo boost and a Super Bowl in ’82; Scully received the NFC Championship Game as a parting gift. He left CBS for NBC.
In the new booka lot of time Los Angeles Times sports TV columnist Larry Stewart writes about one confusing encounter with Scully. Stewart’s 1983 column headline noted that Scully enjoyed playing baseball games by himself, which was true when he was with the Dodgers. But the headline came just as Scully launched a new NBC partnership with Joe Garagiola that was presented as a subtle ego fusion. Scully got angry and said that he would not talk to Stuart again.
“For me, it was like a breakup call from a girlfriend,” Stewart writes. Being a Los Angeles columnist feuding with Vin Scully was like being a Los Angeles meteorologist who cut out the sun. Sure enough, after Stewart praised Scully’s work in subsequent columns, Scully became friendly again.
Watching announcers seek love from their audience is almost heartbreaking. It’s such a doomed quest. First, the fluidity we require of announcers, quickly recognizing that the ball is flying into deep rightfield, makes it nearly impossible for them to to be cute.
Another issue is job requirements. A football game might have 10-second durations, while a baseball game might have slightly longer durations. Only a few announcers ever figure out how to show something of their own in these commercials. Of those who do, only a small number are attractive.
Fewer announcers manage to keep their ego in check long enough to acknowledge the adoration of the crowd. Here Scully was the absolute master. “It’s just me,” he told Dodgers fans as the team honored him for receiving the Ford Frick Award in 1982. almost the same words when the Dodgers celebrated his retirement 34 years later.
In 2016, when asked in the media whether Scully would call the last inning of the World Series or the All-Star Game, he objected. He did not require another standing ovation. He will be pleased with the whispers of appreciation he has heard for years. Scully has discovered that the key to finding something like universal love is to give an opinion that few announcers have. It means that everyone makes too much of you.