In Appreciation: Vin Scully Dies at Age 94

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On Sunday, October 2, 2016, Major League Baseball’s most iconic announcer called his last game. He wouldn’t entirely disappear, however, and during the COVID-19 pandemic’s most difficult days cheered Los Angeles Dodgers fans with encouraging words and his good-natured vibe, a trait seen across 67 seasons calling games for the team.


Now, baseball fans around the world — among others including the head of the NAB — are mourning the loss of Vin Scully.

Scully’s death was announced late Tuesday (8/2) as the Dodgers visited their longtime rivals, the San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers, sitting in first place in their division, won the game 9-5.

Scully began his career in 1950 at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn for “Dem Bums.” He concluded his career, fittingly, at what is today called Oracle Park in San Francisco, as the Dodgers played the Giants.

Transcending team competitiveness, the Giants, like the Dodgers, honored Scully on his final day calling Dodgers games with a special ceremony set for AT&T Park.

While Scully’s time on television toward the end of his career diminished, with select innings called on Time Warner Cable SportsNet L.A., Scully was a familiar voice on radio broadcasts. At the time of Scully’s retirement, the Dodgers’ radio flagship, iHeart’s KLAC-570 in Los Angeles, had Scully call all nine innings of that day’s game.

For many years prior to SportsNet L.A. and KLAC getting the TV and radio rights, Dodgers games could be seen on KTLA-5. KABC-AM 790 was also a longtime radio home in past years.

In an interview with CSN Bay Area ahead of his final game in October 2016, Scully noted, “My last game with the Giants will be October 2. That will be exactly 80 years to the minute from when I first fell in love with the game. So, it seems like the plan was laid out for me, and all I had to do was follow the instructions.”

ONE OF A KIND

There has never been a play-by-play broadcaster like Vin Scully. 

Those are the words of Manny Randhawa of MLB.com, who shared some of Scully’s most legendary calls in a 3 minute, 25 second video. They include calling a perfect game by pitcher Sandy Koufax, and Hank Aaron’s home run that put him past Babe Ruth in the record books, No. 715. Then, there’s his call of Kirk Gibson’s wholly unexpected home run as a pinch hitter sending the Dodgers over the Oakland Athletics in the 1988 World Series played at Dodgers Stadium — a moment captured with the sight of red brake lights on cars in the parking lot, as many had left the venue thinking  the game was all but over.  In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened … 

Perhaps most famously, Scully called Game Six of the 1986 World Series for NBC — Behind the bag! — and the moment a routine ground ball to First Base dribbled through the legs of Boston Red Sox player Bill Buckner, securing an improbable come-from-behind victory by the New York Mets, who would go on to win Game Seven.

Hi everybody and a very pleasant Wednesday to you, wherever you may be.

That was Scully’s intro across the years, more recently on telecasts seen on Fox Sports Net and SportsNet L.A.

Discussing his nascent interest in sports in a conversation prepared in 2015, Scully said, “I was pretty young, I must have been, I would say about 13, and there he was, the way you would imagine him … there was Babe Ruth.” He had a stack of business cards with a stamped signature, and Scully got one.

In 1982, Scully was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame for his decades of service in the broadcast booth. The ceremony was aired on ESPN. In his remarks, Scully asked, “Why me? Why with the millions and millions of more deserving people would a red-haired kid with a hole in his pants and his shirt-tail hanging out playing stickball in the streets of New York end up in Cooperstown? Why me indeed …”

And, in his final words for NBC, Scully shared, “Whatever happens, I’ve sure been thankful for the ride.”

From Dodgers President and part-owner Stan Kasten to pitching ace Clayton Kershaw, the accolades for Scully poured out late Tuesday and into Wednesday.

NAB President/CEO Curtis LeGeyt chimed in, too. “The broadcast industry lost one of its greats in the passing of Vin Scully, whose legendary play-by-plays and passion for the game of baseball touched the lives of generations,” he said. “He is an American icon who elevated the art of sportscasting and whose legacy lives on in his many contributions to broadcasting and among his legions of fans. We offer our deepest condolences to his family, friends and fans.”

Scully died at his home, in Los Angeles. A Benztown audio tribute written and voiced by Bill Royal and produced by Royce Stevenson is now available for radio stations that wish to join in the mourning of a legend.

Listen to the audio tribute to Vin Scully at: https://bit.ly/3vAgTH0.


RBR+TVBR OBSERVATION: As an editor at the now-defunct Radio & Records, I got the chance to meet Vin Scully. I always rooted against the Dodgers. But, as a Mets fan, Vin was the man who called Game Six of the 1986 World Series for NBC. He was bigger than a team. He was, simply, the greatest baseball announcer who had ever lived. And, even bigger than that was his great, big heart, and his genuine sincerity. He cherished every moment, and was simply nice. He chatted for a good 30 minutes with a colleague and I and loved broadcasting. Too often, the word “iconic” is used when describing an individual. Perhaps that word is an understatement when discussing the life and career of Vin Scully. His memory is, and will be, a blessing to us all. — Adam R Jacobson

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