When I was a child, Vin Scully lived under my pillow, and his voice followed me to the beaches of Southern California.
Back in the olden day, transistor radios had opened up a whole new vista. We didn’t have to be tethered to electricity to listen to music, the news, or–most important–baseball games.
Our family spent as much time as possible in the summer at the beach. We could follow Vin Scully’s narration of the Los Angeles Dodger’s games as we walked from our towels to the surf without missing a pitch.
We had baseball in our blood, as my father had played pro ball for 11 seasons, mostly in the minor leagues. But he also had a glorious 17 at-bats for the St. Louis Cardinals.
After his playing career ended, he accepted a job at a college in Los Angeles coaching both baseball and basketball. His games and those of the Dodgers filled our days and nights during baseball season. The entire family revered Scully. He had the voice but also the pace, as well as an uncanny ability to know when the moment called for silence. He always found just the right words and had the courage to voice them, as he did when Henry Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s record: “A black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol.”
Scully, the maestro of announcers, retired at the end of the 2016 season after a home game against the Colorado Rockies. In his typically low-key and self-effacing way, he signed off saying.
“You and I have been friends for a long time, but I know in my heart that I’ve always needed you more than you’ve ever needed me, and I’ll miss our time together more than I can say. But you know what? There will be a new day and, eventually, a new year. And when the upcoming winter gives way to spring, rest assured, once again, it will be ‘time for Dodger baseball.’ So this is Vin Scully wishing you a very pleasant good afternoon, wherever you may be.”
Ironically, the year Scully retired, the Dodgers reached the World Series for the first time since they had faced the Oakland Athletics in 1988. Although Dodger fans lobbied long and hard for his return, he opted to keep a low profile. However, he did agree to throw out the first ball for Game 2 with Steve Yeager and Fernando Valenzuela, who had been teammates on the 1981 World Series winning squad.
He also lent his voice to the movie “For Love of the Game,” which featured Kevin Costner and Kelly Preston. Costner played Detroit Tigers pitcher Billy Chapel, a veteran of 19 years. Scully’s words resonated just as they always had.
“And you know Steve, you get the feeling that Billy Chapel isn’t pitching against left-handers, he isn’t pitching against pinch hitters, he isn’t pitching against the Yankees. He’s pitching against time. He’s pitching against the future, against age, and even when you think about his career, against ending. And tonight, I think he might be able to use that aching old arm one more time to push the sun back up in the sky and give us one more day of summer.”
I could watch “For Love of the Game” over and over just to hear Vin Scully’s voice again. Although I’ve changed my allegiance and have grown hoarse chanting “Beat L.A.” at Petco Park, Vin Scully will always stand out as the quintessential broadcaster in baseball, actually for all sports.
At 94, Vin Scully’s summer days ended the evening of August 2 in his home in Hidden Hills. Fans headed to Dodger Stadium despite the hour.
“He was the best there ever was,” Dodger pitcher Clayton Kershaw said sadly. “Just when you think about the Dodgers, there’s a lot of history here and a lot of people who have come through. It’s just a storied franchise all the way around. But it almost starts with Vin, honestly.”
California Governor Gavin Newsome joined the multitude of people mourning his loss: Vin Scully “…defined his medium. He was the common denominator across so many generations. He was—and is—an absolute legend. Rest in peace, Vin.”
A few years ago, we adopted a puppy found by the border, and I gave my husband Chris two choices for his name—Vinny or Scully. Since we knew a dog named Scully, he chose the former.
Vin Scully used to live under my pillow. Now he will be remembered every time I call Vinny for dinner or a walk or for a treat, or just for a little companionship.