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Vin Scully Retrospective
June 6, 2014 7:09 AM   Subscribe

Vin Scully: voice of the Dodgers for 64 years "My idea is that I'm sitting next to the listener in the ballpark, and we're just watching the game," Scully says. "Sometimes, our conversation leaves the game. It might be a little bit about the weather we're enduring or enjoying. It might be personal relationships, which would involve a player. The game is just one long conversation and I'm anticipating that, and I will say things like ‘Did you know that?' or ‘You're probably wondering why.' I'm really just conversing rather than just doing play-by-play. I never thought of myself as having a style. I don't use key words. And the best thing I do? I shut up."
posted by mandymanwasregistered (22 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks for this. Vin Scully is a national treasure.

He told an interesting story during a game recently about the late umpire Tony Venzon...

This isn't the first story Scully has told about Venzon from the broadcast booth, either. I remember a game a number of years ago, when he talked about Venzon's role in the longest single in the history of the game, that was broadcast around the world.
posted by zarq at 7:28 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]


It's time for Dodger baseball.
posted by persona au gratin at 7:28 AM on June 6


Unfortunately you now have to pay for cable/satellite to hear Vin, as the Dodgers moved to that stupid LA sports channel this season.
posted by Brocktoon at 7:34 AM on June 6


Vin Scully is a national treasure.

Honestly, most of the reason I got an MLB.tv subscription is to listen to his games. I find his calls inspiring, the way a great work of art is inspiring. He's got a perfect voice for broadcast, and with age his great recollection for swaths of baseball history (much of which he was alive and working for) has only become vaster and finer. He has a Japanese poet's economy of words. He understands the value of silence. His observations ride the razor's edge between affection and honesty. He is a master.

You'd think, hey, he oughtta win an award or something. Well, he has—he's been winning lifetime achievement-style awards since the goddamn '80s.

Listening to Scully call a game is like listening to a perfect jazz solo or a virtuoso playing a violin concerto—except in this case, soloist doesn't know what the next chord is going to be.

How frequently is it that you can point at someone and say, yes, that person has gotten as good at their art as it is possible for a human to be? That their skill may be equalled, but it cannot be surpassed?

Vin Scully was that good thirty years ago.
posted by Sokka shot first at 7:58 AM on June 6 [8 favorites]


For non-baseball fans: "And here come the pretzels!"
posted by Atom Eyes at 8:12 AM on June 6


Related: Racist Vin Scully.
posted by saladin at 8:15 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]


If we're linking to impressions, SF Giants broadcaster Jon Miller's Vin impression is much better.
posted by Sokka shot first at 8:38 AM on June 6 [2 favorites]


los angeles, where i was born and grew up, is a special place. it gave major league baseball its all-time greatest announcer, vin scully. it also gave pro basketball ITS all-time greatest announcer, chick hearn.

"never underestimate the heart of a champion."
posted by bruce at 8:42 AM on June 6 [3 favorites]


Vin is by far my favorite all time sports announcer. It's his description and casual reporting that is very comfortable and appealing to me. He is relaxed, knowledgable, and really does feel like he's a friend or neighbor sitting next to you at the game.

Too many announcers try to sell the game; yelling, inflection changes, artificial excitement, and the sense of selling something pervades.

I prefer to be told, not sold.

Props to Vin.
posted by CrowGoat at 8:42 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]


Bruce, no disrespect to the fine city of Angels, but I don't think it 'gave' us Vin Scully. Vin was broadcasting the Dodgers for the better part of a decade back in old New York, and moved west with the team in '58.
posted by dirtdirt at 9:01 AM on June 6 [2 favorites]


That, honestly, is the most mind-blowing thing about Vin Scully's tenure as the voice of the Dodgers - it goes back long enough that you have to specify whether or not it was in Brooklyn or Los Angeles. He called for Jackie Robinson at the beginning of both of their careers. If only we all could do what we love for so long.
posted by Punkey at 9:19 AM on June 6 [2 favorites]


Last year I was listening to Scully announce a Dodgers game at work via the MLB app (I live in Seattle) and had a major flashback to sneaking my transistor radio into 4th grade class to listen to him call games leading up to the 1963 playoffs vs the Yankees.

He sounds the same - how does that work?
posted by skyscraper at 9:23 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]


That cable only Dodgers thing is killing me. I didn't get into baseball until last summer when I happened to catch a Dodgers game on local broadcast TV. I enjoyed it and ended up watching several more games throughout the season. And I was looking forward to starting from the beginning this season, but then I found out that Time Warner took them away. And I refuse to pay for cable just to watch the games I used to be able to watch for free, since that's exactly what Time Warner wants.
posted by downtohisturtles at 9:51 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]


As someone who's never lived in an NL market or had an opportunity to listen to the Dodgers -- does anyone have a video to recommend of Vin calling a game? I'm so curious to hear him at work.
posted by saturday_morning at 10:21 AM on June 6


saturday_morning, you could do worse than start with NPR's story of Vin Scully's coverage of Sandy Koufax's perfect game.
posted by blob at 10:33 AM on June 6 [3 favorites]


My mother and grandmother were lifelong Dodgers fans and my clearest memories of my childhood involve a summer day in which all the lights were turned off in the house (we didn't have AC and I grew up in Claremont, which can get very hot in the summer/fall), my mother was lying on one sofa and my grandmother was lying on the other one, both had cool compresses on their eyes, a drip hose was on the roof, and Vin Scully was calling the game. I didn't really like baseball until I moved to SF in the 90s, but I will always feel like Vin Scully was an additional parent.

bruce, my grandparents were teachers in the San Fernando Valley, and so were many of their friends. Chick Hearn was a student of some family friends who (in their dotage and many years after he was a student) one day stopped by the broadcasting booth and just sent a message in to say hi to Hearn. He came out immediately and invited them to sit with him in the booth, not for the whole game, but for some extended period. Such a gentleman! That was a high point of their lives.
posted by janey47 at 11:02 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]


I hate the Dodgers (for many reasons, including inherited sorrow from my dad re the departure from Brooklyn, loyalty to my brother, a major SF Giants fan, and years of personally despising Lasorda, plus the Ramirez idolatry as he was doping lots) but I love Scully. Is there a true fan of the game who does not?

I'd add that I wish more current broadcasters of all ilks, including news, listened more when icons like Scully and -- God rest him -- Brinkley -- demonstrate the power and importance of knowing when to be quiet.
posted by bearwife at 12:56 PM on June 6


I lived in Orange County, California, for about 18 months in the early 80s. Perhaps the best thing about my time there was being able to listen to Vin Scully EVERY. DAY.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 2:45 PM on June 6


One of my favorite legends about Chuck Yeager is that he had such a distinctive speaking accent and style, and he taught so many great pilots, that the distinctive laconic cadence that is used as a shorthand for a pilot's voice is nothing more than a devolved version of Chuck Yeager's voice. I don't know whether it's true or not, but it makes a great store.

As Jon Miller's reminiscence demonstrates, in the case of Vin Scully, we can more or less prove the lineage. There's a little bit (sometimes more) of Vin in the good announcers who are left.
posted by aureliobuendia at 3:18 PM on June 6


Here is Vin Scully broadcasting a game in Brooklyn in 1957.
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 6:09 PM on June 6 [1 favorite]


Here's a nice illustration from the OC Register, diagramming Scully's technique on the job.

I came across the SB Nation article just after it was out, but I'm glad to see it posted here. He's just a treasure, and I almost get emotional just thinking about his final game this season.

Hopefully we'll still to get hear from him here and there, and I absolutely hope he plans to write an autobiography once he has the time.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 9:18 PM on June 6


Certain public voices gain a toehold in one's brain, and listening to Vin Scully in childhood did that for me. Every time I pass a certain manufacturer's bacon in the meat section of a supermarket, I hear Scully say, "Faaaarmer! Joooooooooohn," and for some reason it's always followed by, "Don! Dryyyysdaaaaale," each with a scaling down of tone toward the end.

(Thing is, Don Drysdale retired before I was old enough to hear Scully call his name out during play, so the voice I hear must be my father, a Dodgers fan, imitating Scully - therefore it's a second-generation imprint. That's power!)
posted by goofyfoot at 12:03 AM on June 7


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