Wednesday, August 3, 2022

R.I.P. Vin Scully, Iconic Sports Broadcaster

Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully, who called Dodgers games on radio and television for more than half a century and captivated generations of Southern California baseball fans after the club’s 1958 move from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, died Tuesday night, the team said. 

He was 94, according to The Los Angeles Daily News.

Scully died at his home in Hidden Hills, according to the team, which spoke to family members.

“We have lost an icon,” team president and CEO Stan Kasten said in a statement. “His voice will always be heard and etched in all of our minds forever.”

Named the No. 1 sportscaster of the 20th century by more than 500 national members of the American Sportscasters Association in 2000, Scully began announcing Dodgers games in 1950 and had the longest continuous service with one team of any major-league broadcaster. Sixty-six years after his debut, Scully called his final Dodger game Oct. 2, 2016 in San Francisco. A plaque remains on the wall of the visiting broadcast booth inside Oracle Park ― where the Dodgers played the Giants Tuesday night ― to commemorate the occasion.

With a mastery of the English language, a near-encyclopedic knowledge of baseball history and an unparalleled story-telling ability, Scully both educated and entertained listeners while receiving nearly every honor the broadcasting industry offers.

Voted the “most memorable personality” in Los Angeles Dodgers history by fans in 1976, Scully received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and induction into the broadcast wing of the National Baseball Hall of Fame as the recipient of the Ford Frick Award in 1982.

A four-time winner of the Outstanding Sportscaster Award from the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association, Scully was also a 21-time California Sportscaster of the Year. Inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1995, Scully received a Lifetime Achievement Sports Emmy Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences the following year.

Also a recipient of the George Foster Peabody Award for excellence in broadcasting, Scully covered 12 World Series and six Major League All-Star Games, in addition to football, golf and tennis, for CBS and NBC, but he will always be linked with the Dodgers. The team honored Scully with the dedication of the “Vin Scully Press Box” at Dodger Stadium in 2001.

Born Nov. 29, 1927, in the Bronx and raised in New York City, Scully set his sights on being a sports announcer from an early age. He spent two years in the Navy and graduated from Fordham University in 1949, having lettered for two years as a Rams outfielder before turning to broadcasting.

Scully called Fordham baseball, football and basketball games over the school’s radio station, and began his professional broadcasting career at WTOP-AM in Washington, D.C. Scully’s big break came in 1950, when legendary Dodgers announcer Red Barber and his partner, Connie Desmond, chose Scully to become the third man in the radio booth.

Duplicating Barber’s renowned work ethic, by 1954 Scully had become the Dodgers’ lead announcer. He called Brooklyn’s only World Championship the following season, and also announced Dodgers World Series victories in Los Angeles in 1959, 1963, 1965, 1981 and 1988.

As a child, Scully would grab a pillow, put it under the family’s four-legged radio and lay his head directly under the speaker to hear whatever college football game was on the air. With a snack of saltine crackers and a glass of milk nearby, the boy was transfixed by the crowd’s roar that raised goosebumps. He thought he’d like to call the action himself.

At age 22, he was hired by a CBS radio affiliate in Washington, D.C. In 1953, at age 25, Scully became the youngest person to broadcast a World Series game, a mark that still stands.

He moved west with the Dodgers in 1958. Scully called three perfect games – Don Larsen in the 1956 World Series, Sandy Koufax in 1965 and Dennis Martinez in 1991 – and 18 no-hitters.

Scully credited the birth of the transistor radio as “the greatest single break” of his career. Fans had trouble recognizing the lesser players during the Dodgers’ first four years in the vast Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame that year, and also had the stadium’s press box named for him in 2001. The street leading to Dodger Stadium’s main gate was named in his honor in 2016.

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