Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Vin Scully And The Transistor Radio Welcomed The Dodgers To L-A

Dodgers Fans in 1960

Today, you can walk into Dodger Stadium, device in hand. The device lets you make phone calls, send text messages, take photos, access statistics and replays, post your thoughts on social media, play games, and buy food, drinks and souvenirs.

When Dodger Stadium opened in 1962, you could walk into the stadium, device in hand. That device let you do exactly one thing: listen to the radio.

According Bill  Shaikin at The L-A Times that is what everyone did, for decades, in the greatest communal experience in Southern California sports history: tens of thousands of fans, assembled in one place, listening on a tiny radio as the greatest broadcaster in baseball history described the game being played right in front of them.

In 2016, when Vin Scully bid farewell to Dodgers fans before his final home game, this is how he put it: “The transistor radio is what bound us together.”

The transistor radio went mainstream at about the same time the Dodgers arrived in Los Angeles in 1958, timing so fortuitous that Scully called it “one of the biggest breaks” the team and its broadcasters could get.

Vin Scully
For their first four seasons in Los Angeles, the Dodgers played in the cavernous Coliseum, with some fans so far removed from the action they needed Scully to let them know what was happening. You might have been sitting high above one end zone, with home plate near the other end zone.

“It was Vinny who introduced the Dodger organization to Southern California, to Los Angeles,” former owner Peter O’Malley said.

“It wasn’t the first baseman, or the manager, or the team — certainly not with the won and lost record, because they had a tough year. It was Vinny who introduced the team. There was no one who could have done it better. When you pause to understand the impact that he had then, as well as today, it’s extraordinary.”

For Los Angeles, for so long a city of transplants, Scully was a perfect fit.

“With Vinny, it didn’t make any difference whether you were a Dodger fan, or you came from the Midwest and you were a Cincinnati Reds fan,” said Fred Claire, the Dodgers’ former general manager and publicist. When the Dodgers landed in Southern California, Claire was a local newspaperman.

“The non-partiality of Vinny, I think, is a point that never really gets noted enough,” Claire said. “He just made everyone feel comfortable. There was never a ‘home team’ sense.”

In 1960, just for fun, Scully made a request that demonstrated his reach and power. On the broadcast one night, he asked fans at the game to await his count to three, then shout “Happy Birthday, Frank!” to umpire Frank Secory.

If fans at the game were not listening in any great numbers, Scully could have been embarrassed. Instead, Secory was startled by the loud greeting.

“That was the night I realized that, if I used it very carefully, the transistor radio could be a great bridge between me and the fans,” Scully said.

Walter O’Malley, the owner who moved the Dodgers here from Brooklyn, once called Scully “the greatest Dodger.”

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