Saying Farewell to Scully

Baseball fans first heard the soothing sound of sportscaster Vin Scully’s voice reverberating over the airwaves during the summer of 1950. That year, the United States’ population was less than half of what it is now. Hawaii and Alaska weren’t states. Television was black and white. And the Dodgers played their games at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, NY, not among the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles.

Scully was just 22 years old. Just three years later, he would go on to broadcast the 1953 World Series.

Over 66 seasons, Scully called some of the greatest games in history. He had a front row seat to Dodger greats like Sandy Koufax and Clayton Kershaw. At age 88, however, Scully has decided that when the Dodgers play their last 2016 regular season game, he will leave the booth for the last time.

Former Major League Baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti once said that baseball “buffers the passage of time.” But as with so many things in life, while the existence of the game itself may be constant, its characters and its intricacies are not. Teams are created and others disappear, rookies burst onto the scene and veterans hang up their gloves.

But throughout all of this, Vin Scully has remained.

Generations of Dodgers fans have grown up listening to Scully’s familiar voice narrating America’s national pastime. He delivers the play-by-play with remarkable poise. Although many could not recognize his face, his voice holds a special familiarity in the hearts of baseball fans. Almost every time a Dodger swings a bat, he’s there. When the game is background noise at barbecues, birthday celebrations and viewing parties, he’s there. There’s no denying it — Scully is irreplaceable.

“My parents’ generation and mine have never heard any other voice during a Dodger game,” said Derek Martin, a longtime Dodgers’ fan and College junior. “No one speaks like him or in his style.”

“Los Angeles is a city of stars,” said Charley Steiner, the current Dodgers radio broadcaster in an interview with ESPN the Magazine. “And Vin is the biggest star of them all. I don’t care who it is — Arnold, Leo, Spielberg, Kobe, Magic — nobody is bigger than Vin, and I’ll tell you why: with everybody else you can find some subset of people who don’t like them. Nobody doesn’t like Vin Scully. Vin is our Babe Ruth. The best there ever was.”

Much of Scully’s greatness comes from his durability and his dedication to the Dodger organization.

Scully’s finesse is evident in his laundry list of memorable calls. Don Larsen’s perfect game, Kirk Gibson’s walk-off homer off of Dennis Eckersley, and Hank Aaron’s 715th home run were all broadcast by Scully.

Perhaps his most famous line was bellowed during his national broadcast call of the sixth game of the 1986 New York Mets versus Boston Red Sox World Series. During one of the most iconic comebacks in baseball history, the Mets, down to their last out, rallied from behind — all thanks to a fielding error by Bill Buckner.

“Behind the bag!” Scully exclaimed, describing the path of the ball. “It gets through Buckner! Here comes Knight and the Mets win it!”

Besides his master game-calling, Scully’s storytelling has been a beloved staple of his broadcasting. During many Dodgers games, the broadcaster resorted to breaking up the occasional monotony of a baseball game with amusing anecdotes. During one broadcast, Scully shared the history of beards.

“First of all, they say way back to the dawn of humanity, beards evolved, number one, because ladies like them, and number two, it was the idea of frightening off adversaries and wild animals. … In fact, it was so serious, if you look it up, there’s a divine mandate for beards in Leviticus and Deuteronomy.”

Although seemingly off-topic, Scully’s quirky sidebars enticed dedicated viewers to tune in night after night and endeared him to Dodgers fans everywhere.

After Scully’s last time at the mic, watching Dodgers baseball may never be the same. But we must all face the facts — even legends have to leave the game of baseball.