The Riggs Report: A broadcast legend signs off
September 22, 2016
Vin Scully’s remarkable career ends Oct. 2
Pull up a chair, as the great Los Angeles Dodgers announcer Vin Scully likes to say, and let’s take a welcome break from the dreariness and meanness of this political campaign season to instead dwell on something truly inspiring and uplifting—something historically and culturally significant in California, that we likely won’t see again.
After a remarkable run of 67 seasons, Scully, who turns 89 years old in November, will broadcast his final Major League Baseball game on Oct. 2 at AT&T Park, when the Dodgers and Giants wrap up their three-game series.
Scully quashed speculation earlier that he might do postseason announcing, saying he wasn’t interested in an extended farewell.
Scully began broadcasting for the Dodgers in 1949, nine years before the team moved from Brooklyn to the West Coast. He is not only a link to the storied baseball of years past, but remains at the top of his game today.
Scully’s encyclopedic knowledge of the game, his eloquence, his uncanny ability to weave anecdotes, his knack for knowing when NOT to talk: It explains why he is such an icon to generations of baseball fans, no matter what team they follow.
In the 1984 film, “The Natural,” Robert Redford played a mystical baseball player, Roy Hobbs, who harbored a dream of being described as “the best there ever was.”
Scully is the real-life version of that description. I realize now that, growing up in Southern California, it was a privilege to listen to Vin call games. It was true theater of the mind.
It’s why so many of us kids, Little Leaguers who dreamed of glory, kept transistor radios hidden beneath the pillow, listening surreptitiously long past bedtime.
Former California Schools Superintendent Jack O’Connell, who grew up in the same Southern California beach town that I did, has a similar memory.
“I remember my dad setting up the red Zenith transistor in the back yard to listen to Vin,” O’Connell recalled. “I’d call him the best announcer of any sport at any level.”
Here was Scully, calling Sandy Koufax’s perfect game in September 1965: “There’s 29,000 people in the ballpark and a million butterflies!”
Scully, after Kirk Gibson’s game-winning homer in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series: “In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened!”
I had the honor of meeting Vin a couple of years ago, while he was broadcasting at AT&T Park. I’ve met everyone from presidents to governors, the queen of England to entertainers, and yet this topped them all.
Dressed, as always, in a blazer and tie, he greeted me inside the broadcast booth, friendly and gracious, asking me about the years I spent covering politics in Sacramento.
I joked that I measured time by the five governors I’d covered, and he mentioned that he had only known one governor. Ronald Reagan and he were neighbors in Pacific Palisades, Vin said, and occasionally golfed together.
I told him that, as a kid, I always knew spring was here when I heard him announce, “Dodger baseball is on the air!” And with that, he excused himself to settle behind the microphone.
On Oct. 2, Scully will settle behind the mic one last time. Vin Scully, the best there ever was.