With Most Contemporaries Long Gone, Vin Scully Endures

Vin Scully's Final Games

Los Angeles Dodgers
Courtesy Los Angeles Dodgers

Over his 67-year broadcasting career with the Dodgers, Vin Scully has worked alongside thousands of other broadcasters and journalists.

Grantland Rice was still active when Scully began broadcasting Dodgers games in 1950. J.G. Taylor Spink—after whom baseball’s most prestigious award for sportswriters is named—was still the editor of the Sporting News.

Mel Allen was the Yankees broadcaster at the time. Jack Buck was the play-by-play voice of the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate, four years from beginning to call games for the major league club. 

From those larger-than-life titans of sports media in a bygone era to today’s social media age, Scully has been affected by and had an effect on so many journalists and people across the game.

On Monday, with the end of his long career scheduled for Oct. 2, Scully spoke to reporters on a conference call his professional influences, the relationships he made and how they transformed him into the broadcaster he became.

On one of his most famous contemporaries, Milwaukee’s Bob Uecker:

Scully: I will say, No. 1, in all honestly, I love Bob, I loved him as a player who would always, as you said, downgrade his own abilities. But he was also very popular with his own teammates so you knew he was a good guy. When he eventually got into the radio and television booth, I would see him and it was an absolute joy. We used to get together, usually in Atlanta when he started, and I’d meet him in the press box, and I’d be able to watch an inning or two with him before going back on the air, and he would just keep me in stitches. Down through the years I’ve really looked forward to seeing him anytime that we were playing his team.

I did regret when I cut traveling and he cut traveling when I didn’t have a chance to see him again. I do remember, I did an interview with him in Milwaukee. We sat on two chairs and it was the hardest interview I’ve ever done because he had me crying inside with laughter, and I’m trying to continue without just falling down on the ground. It was the usual stuff about he when he found out he was no longer a member of the team, when he went to the dressing room and they said to him “Sorry, no visitors allowed.” That was a marvelous way to get the news I guess. But I just love him, and any treasured minute with him is just worth a lot.

On Dodgers fans not being able to imagine not having him broadcast anymore:

Scully: I’ve been asked or told a lot about oh it won’t be the same or we miss you, et cetera, and that’s very nice. But you know what? I look back over my career and I can remember Mel Allen leaving the Yankees. I thought, “The Yankees can’t play without Mel Allen.” And Russ Hodges leaving the Giants, and Jack Buck leaving St. Louis, and Harry Caray leaving Chicago, Red Barber leaving Brooklyn. I mean, all these were, “Oh my gosh, they’ll never be the same.” But you know what? A year or so, however long it takes and you’ll be history, and I know that, and someone else will hopefully ride and have a great career in your place.

On others who helped guide him when he was young:

Scully: Probably the best part of this, I loved the New York writers. Dick Young, then of the Daily News, called me Schooly. Kind of moved my final name, but what it really was for like Schoolboy, like Schoolboy Rowe, and I was Schooly. And all of the writers just helped this kid along in every imaginable way and they gave me a tremendous boost.

On connecting families across generations:

Scully: You know, one of the great residuals of the job, and I hear this a lot, again, because of all the years that have flown by, people will say to me, you know, when I hear your voice, I think of backyard barbecues with my mom and dad. Or painting the garage with my father and your radio on listening to the ballgame. It’s nice to be a bridge. It really is from one generation to another. I keep saying it because it means so much. God has been so good to me and to allow me to do what I’m doing at a very young age, a childhood dream that came to pass. Then giving me 67 years to enjoy every minute of it, that’s a pretty large Thanksgiving Day for me. So yeah, I’ve loved it, and I loved the connection with people and to hear about it too.

On the time he called 46 innings over three days in 1989:

Scully: What happened was I was doing the Game of the Week as well as the Dodger games. So on Saturday I forgot whether I was in Chicago or St. Louis, but I did a game on Saturday afternoon, then got to an airplane to fly to Houston, and I actually walked into the booth as they were announcing the National Anthem. So then I did the game. Well, the game in Chicago or St. Louis, that was like 10 innings. Then the game in Houston that night went 23, and then Sunday another 13 innings. So I did something like 46 innings in whatever many hours. And the best part of the story, when the game ended, I came out of the booth admittedly a little tired, and there a telegram waiting for me, and it was from one my dearest friends in the world who was a sports writer in San Diego by the name of Phil Collier, and it was just perfect. The telegram read “Lou Gehrig was a wimp.”

On his final broadcast being in a booth named after Russ Hodges and Lon Simmons (in San Francisco, Oct. 2):

Scully: I knew them both very well. First of all, with Russ, when I was back in New York, I can actually remember one night in his kitchen harmonizing with Russ and Ernie Harwell, one of the beautiful memories in my entire life.

Russ was just terrific. He was a wonderful broadcaster. Very emotional. I just loved being him. So we spent a good bit of time together, Then on the west coast, when I met Lon, every time I went to San Francisco, I think Lon and I played golf. And when he came down here, he could play at my place. So I remember them both very well. We had a lot of good kidding, of course, about our rivalry and the two teams. But they were dear, wonderful friends, as well as a great team of fine broadcasters.

On what he’ll miss most:

Scully: Well, it would only be human to miss something that I’ve been doing for 67 years. It’s really been a major portion of my life. It’s not been my life, bit it’s certainly been a major portion of it. I think, more than anything, I will miss the people.

When I come to Dodger Stadium, for instance, I know the lady on the elevator, I know the men who run the press box. And then I see all my pals who are writers and broadcasters who are all assigned to cover the game and I really love all that. Then the thrill, the opportunity to sit here and try to describe as best as possible what I’m looking at. The challenge is great a well. And I sure will miss all of that, and I know I will, and I’ll try to do the best I can to live with it.

I’m fortunate, I have a wonderful wife, I have 16 grandchildren. We have three little great grandchildren, and I’m going to spend some time watching their ballgames, I think, because a couple of the grandboys are good players. They really are. That’s what I’m looking forward to. But I will miss it. Oh I know that, dramatically, for sure.

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