Vin Scully could not have asked for a better game to end his Dodger Stadium career with.
It was a hot, clear day in Los Angeles, the boys in blue were one win shy of clinching the NL West–either they had to beat the Rockies, or the Giants needed to lose to the Padres. The clubhouse below the stadium was bedecked with plastic sheeting in preparation of the champagne showers many hoped would follow. The Dodgers got off to a difficult start, falling behind the Rockies early in the game. But by the 9th inning, the score was tied 3-3. As the players prepared for extra innings, Vin quipped, “It’s not like we have anywhere else to be.”
For Vin, the weekend series was the final wave on his long-goodbye. For the entire 2016 season, fans have known that the signature voice of baseball would be signing off. The three games between the Dodgers and Rockies marked a weekend of celebration to highlight Vin’s storied career. He seemed to take the whole thing with an aw-shucks modesty. Upon seeing fans with the letters V-I-N on their shirts he said, “I hope that washes off and they didn’t waste perfectly good shirts!” as if saying goodbye to the last of the old guard wasn’t worth the cost of a $4 Hanes shirt.
But that’s the way with Vin Scully, and it’s part of what has made him so beloved across sports. His quiet delivery, his slow stories, things that would be impossible to fathom coming out of any other broadcast booth in baseball, for Vin it was just the way he did it. And he did it for an awfully long time.
Vin joined the Dodgers in 1950, when they were still playing in their original home of Brooklyn. By 1953, thanks to contract disputes with Scully’s mentor Red Barber, Vin became the youngest announcer to ever call a World Series game. When the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1957 he did not immediately join them, but the following year Vin was back with the team. He hasn’t left since. 67 years with the organization. Vin Scully has been around longer than the Dodgers had been in California. Longer than they played at Dodger Stadium (where his name is now the address). He’s one of the only modern examples of an announcer who doesn’t split the duties between play-by-play and colour commentary. And for good reason.
There is no one like Vin Scully when it comes to telling a story. As capable and effortless as he makes the play-by-play, making every twin-killing sound like a couplet, every one-two-three inning a haiku, it is his story-telling that sets him above all other broadcasters.
During a 2014 early spring game between the Dodgers and the Detroit Tigers, Vin had shared little details about most of the players–things Los Angeles fans might be less familiar with, given Detroit’s AL status–and Torii Hunter came up to the plate. Vin began to spin a tale about Torii’s railroad-worker father who fell on hard times and became addicted to crack. The story has Torii wearing his father’s jacket to school and having a “what do you call it? A crack-pipe? I guess that’s what you call it.” falling out of his pocket. It stands out as my most beloved memory of Scully, because it’s hard to imagine such a dark story coming across as somehow charming and matter-of-fact. But that’s what Vin did. He managed to keep listeners entranced inning after inning, and is one of those rare gifts to the game that can united fans from all different teams.
He is the last of a great generation, from a time most of us cannot remember, and he brought an element of class and sophistication to every broadcast. There was just something magical about Vin that made you feel like you were a part of baseball’s bygone Golden Age.
On September 25, the Dodgers clinched their division in twelve innings, and Vin took his final bow at Dodger Stadium. With grace and humility he said farewell to players and fans alike. Baseball, in turn, said goodbye to the last great voice of an era. There will never be anyone quite like Vin Scully again, and we have been blessed to be in the presence of his greatness for 67 years, spanning generations of sports-lovers, and the entirety of the Dodgers modern history.
He will be missed, but he will never be forgotten.
**Below, Vin reads the famous James Earl Jones speech from Field of Dreams. If this doesn’t make you misty, not much will.**
**Editor correction: this article originally indicated the September 25 game was Vin’s last broadcast, when in fact it was his last home broadcast. He will finish on Oct 2, as the Dodgers take on the Giants in San Francisco.**