Rafu Staff and Wire Reports
A memorial of flowers, handwritten notes, balloons, photos and other memorabilia continued to grow outside Dodger Stadium Wednesday, in honor of Vin Scully, whose melodic voice and narrative style made him one of broadcasting’s all-time greats, and one of the most legendary figures in Dodger history.
Scully, who spent 67 years as a Dodger broadcaster, died Tuesday at his home in Hidden Hills at age 94.
The team announced the sad news after being informed by family members, as the Dodgers were in San Francisco playing the Giants. No cause of death was provided.
“We have lost an icon,” Dodger President and CEO Stan Kasten said. “Vin Scully was one of the greatest voices in all of sports. He was a giant of a man, not only as a broadcaster, but as a humanitarian. He loved people. He loved life. He loved baseball and the Dodgers. And he loved his family.
“His voice will always be heard and etched in all of our minds forever.”
“He was the best there ever was,” pitcher Clayton Kershaw said after the Dodgers’ win in San Francisco. “Just such a special man. I’m grateful and thankful I got to know him as well as I did.”
“There’s not a better storyteller and I think everyone considers him family,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He was in our living rooms for many generations. He lived a fantastic life, a legacy that will live on forever.”
The Giants posted a Scully tribute on the videoboard at Oracle Park after the conclusion of the game.
As the longest-tenured broadcaster with a single team in pro sports history, Scully saw it all and called it all. He began in the 1950s era of Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson, on to the 1960s with Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax, into the 1970s with Steve Garvey and Don Sutton, and through the 1980s with Orel Hershiser and Fernando Valenzuela. In the 1990s, it was Mike Piazza and Hideo Nomo, followed by Kershaw, Manny Ramirez and Yasiel Puig in the 21st century.
“You gave me my Wild Horse name. You gave me love. You hugged me like a father,” tweeted Puig, the talented Cuban-born outfielder who burned brightly upon his Dodgers debut in 2013. “I will never forget you, my heart is broken.”
The Dodgers changed players, managers, executives, owners — and even coasts — but Scully and his soothing, insightful style remained a constant for the fans.
He opened broadcasts with the familiar greeting, “Hi, everybody, and a very pleasant good evening to you wherever you may be.”
Ever gracious both in person and on the air, Scully considered himself merely a conduit between the game and the fans.
Vincent Edward Scully was born in the New York City borough of the Bronx on Nov. 29, 1927, and grew up in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan. When he was 8 years old, he was assigned to write a composition on what he wanted to be when he grew up.
“Where the boys in grammar school wanted to be policemen and firemen and the girls wanted to be ballet dancers and nurses, here’s this kid saying, ‘I want to be a sports announcer,’” Scully once said. “I mean, it was really out of the blue.”
He was the son of a silk salesman who died of pneumonia when Scully was 7. His mother moved the family to Brooklyn, where the red-haired, blue-eyed Scully grew up playing stickball in the streets.
As a child, Scully would grab a pillow, put it under the family’s four-legged radio and lay his head directly under the speaker to hear whatever college football game was on the air. With a snack of saltine crackers and a glass of milk nearby, the boy was transfixed by the crowd’s roar that raised goosebumps. He thought he’d like to call the action himself.
Scully, who played outfield for two years on the Fordham University baseball team, began his career by working baseball, football and basketball games for the university’s radio station.
At age 22, he was hired by a CBS radio affiliate in Washington, D.C.
He soon joined Hall of Famer Red Barber and Connie Desmond in the Brooklyn Dodgers’ radio and television booths.
Scully’s first regular-season game with the Dodgers was on April 18, 1950, when they faced the Phillies at Philadelphia’s Shibe Park.
“Don Newcombe was going to be our pitcher,” Scully said the day before he broadcast his final game at Dodger Stadium in 2016.
“Red Barber assigned me to do the fourth inning. They didn’t trust me more than one inning. I understand that.
“My first game, Newcombe didn’t make it to the fourth inning. That’s all I really remember, plus the fact I was terrified.”
In 1953, at age 25, Scully became the youngest person to broadcast a World Series game, a mark that still stands.
He moved west with the Dodgers in 1958. Scully called three perfect games — Don Larsen in the 1956 World Series, Sandy Koufax in 1965 and Dennis Martinez in 1991 — and 18 no-hitters.
He also was on the air when Don Drysdale set his scoreless innings streak of 58 2/3 innings in 1968 and again when Hershiser broke the record with 59 consecutive scoreless innings 20 years later.
When Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run to break Babe Ruth’s record in 1974, it was against the Dodgers and, of course, Scully called it.
“A Black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol,” Scully told listeners. “What a marvelous moment for baseball.”
For generations of Dodger fans, their memories of other historic moments are indelibly defined by Scully’s descriptions, from a flawless Koufax performance, to Fernandomania, to Kirk Gibson’s miracle World Series home run:
“Sandy into his wind-up … here’s the pitch. Swung on and missed, a perfect game!”
“Fernando Valenzuela has thrown a no-hitter … if you have a sombrero, throw it to the sky.”
“High, flyball into deep right field, she is … gone! … In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened.”
In the gentler days before music or other rallying sounds incessantly blared from the stadium sound system, Scully’s voice and vast knowledge of the game filled in the blanks for those in attendance.
He credited the birth of the transistor radio as “the greatest single break” of his career. Fans had trouble recognizing the lesser players during the Dodgers’ first four years in the vast Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
“They were 70 or so odd rows away from the action,” he said in 2016. “They brought the radio to find out about all the other players and to see what they were trying to see down on the field.”
That habit carried over when the team moved to Dodger Stadium in 1962. Fans held radios to their ears, and those not present listened from home or the car, allowing Scully to connect generations of families with his words.
He often said it was best to describe a big play quickly and then be quiet so fans could listen to the pandemonium. After Koufax’s perfect game in 1965, Scully went silent for 38 seconds before talking again. He was similarly silent for a time after Kirk Gibson’s pinch-hit home run to win Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.
He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame that year and had the stadium’s press box named for him in 2001. The street leading to Dodger Stadium’s main gate was named in his honor in 2016.
Fans paid their respects to Scully at the memorial outside Dodger Stadium in Elysian Park, in front of the sign that bears his name. They left flowers, candles and shared memories of the moments in Dodger history Scully delivered on the radio and TV.
That same year, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.
“God has been so good to me to allow me to do what I’m doing,” Scully, a devout Catholic who attended Mass on Sundays before heading to the ballpark, said before retiring. “A childhood dream that came to pass and then giving me 67 years to enjoy every minute of it. That’s a pretty large thanksgiving day for me.”
In addition to being the voice of the Dodgers, Scully called play-by-play for NFL games and PGA Tour events as well as calling 25 World Series and 12 All-Star Games. He was NBC’s lead baseball announcer from 1983-89.
Photos by MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS/Rafu Shimpo, except where noted