Public Media Arts Hub

Remembering the legendary sports broadcaster Vin Scully


Notice: Transcripts are machine and human generated and lightly edited for accuracy. They may contain errors.

Judy Woodruff: Finally, tonight, remembering the legendary sports broadcaster Vin Scully.

The baseball world is mourning the loss of the Hall of Fame sportscaster, who died yesterday at the age of 94. Vin Scully called games for the Dodgers for 67 years, both in Los Angeles and when the team was originally in Brooklyn. That is the longest tenure any broadcaster has had with a professional team.

Many in and out of sports said he was the best there ever was.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said his death "is the end of a chapter of our city's history."

And former Dodger Steve Garvey wrote: "Los Angeles has had one clear sound, and that was the voice of Vin Scully."

In 2009, Jeffrey Brown had a chance to spend a day with Scully at Dodger Stadium.

We have an excerpt from that story that brings us the man, his work and his love of the game.

Vin Scully, Former Broadcaster, Los Angeles Dodgers: It's time for Dodger baseball.


Jeffrey Brown: It's a voice that generations of Dodger fans have grown up with, savored, loved.

Vin Scully: Ground ball to third, backhanded by Blake. He straightens up to throw him out. Easy inning for Randy Wolf.

Jeffrey Brown: In Los Angeles, but also, incredibly, going all the way back to Brooklyn in the 1950s.

Vin Scully: The pitch at the right ankle of Andres Torres. Ball one.

Now, admittedly, there are days where you think, I would rather sit under a tree and read a book than go to the ballpark.

Jeffrey Brown: Yes. Everybody has those days, right?

Vin Scully: But what's great is, you come to the park, you do the routine stuff, and then the crowd comes in, and the team takes the field, and the crowd roars. And, all of a sudden, you're delighted as a kid in a candy store.

Jeffrey Brown: That's exactly where you want to be.

Vin Scully: Exactly.

Jeffrey Brown: In an age when the sports broadcast booth is crammed with two or even three announcers, Scully still prefers to work alone.

Vin Scully: Sanchez a strike, and the count 0-1.

Jeffrey Brown: His style, mastery of language, and, yes, longevity have made him a legend in sports circles.

It all began, he says, with lessons in attitude from his mentor, Red Barber, another broadcasting great, who gave Scully his first big break and brought him into the booth in Brooklyn in 1950.

Vin Scully: One of my many jobs as the junior partner of the broadcasting firm would be to get the lineups every day.

And let's say that, one day, I brought up a lineup where Smith was hitting in front of Brown. The next day, I brought a lineup up and Brown was hitting in front of Smith. Red would ask me, why? And the first time he asked me why, I didn't know.

However, after that, I knew. And that was part of Red: Be there early, be very well-prepared, and then you're ready to go on the air.

Jeffrey Brown: Who are you talking to when you're doing the game? I mean, you're one of the few who still does it alone for the most part. So who are you talking to?

Vin Scully: Well, first of all, I have to make people understand, it's not an ego thing. It's not that I just want to be on all by myself.

This goes back to Brooklyn, where Red's philosophy was simply this: If I want to sell you a car, is it better for me to talk to you about the merits of the car or talk to so-and-so and have you listen to our discussion about the merits of the car? Red always felt that it was better to talk one-on-one.

So, what I'm doing, I'm talking to the listener. And I will talk. I will say, oh, by the way, I forgot to tell you, or...

Jeffrey Brown: I forgot to tell you.

Vin Scully: Exactly, talking -- because I don't want the microphone to be in the way. I want them to know I'm sitting next to them in the ballpark talking.

Yankee Stadium shivering in its concrete foundation right now.

Jeffrey Brown: He called the only perfect game pitched in a World Series, Don Larsen's gem for the Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956.

Vin Scully: Got him! The greatest game ever pitched in baseball history by Don Larsen!

Jeffrey Brown: Nine years later, Scully was there for Sandy Koufax's perfect game.

Vin Scully: Sandy into his windup. Here's the pitch. Swung on and missed! A perfect game!

High fly ball into right field, she is gone! In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened.

Jeffrey Brown: And then there was the famous 1988 World Series walk-off home run by a hobbled Kirk Gibson. That crowd noise and the silence from the broadcast booth is another Scully trademark.

Vin Scully: When I was very small, maybe 8 years old, we had a big radio that stood on four legs, and it had a crosspiece underneath it.

And I used to take a pillow and crawl under the radio. And I would listen to a game that meant nothing to a kid growing up in New York. I mean, it might be Tennessee-Alabama. But when someone scored a touchdown and the crowd roared, that crowd noise would come out of the speaker like water out of a showerhead, and it would just cover me with goose bumps.

And I used to think, oh, I would like to be there to feel that roar of the crowd.

And it's never left me to this day, so that, when something happens, I love it to shut up and hear the crowd.

Jeffrey Brown: But you're still enjoying what you're doing?

Vin Scully: I love it. And you know how I know I love it? Because, when there's a great play on the field and the crowd roars, I still get goose bumps. I'm just like that little kid under the radio.

Bases loaded, sixth inning, one out. And a drive to left field down the line. It is gone, a grand slam home run!

Judy Woodruff: What a life.

And Vin Scully died at his home in California's San Fernando Valley on Tuesday. During his career, he called 25 World Series, a dozen All-Star Games, three perfect games, meaning no one gets on base, and 18 no-hitters.

Support Canvas

Sustain our coverage of culture, arts and literature.

Send Us Your Ideas
Let us know what you'd like to see on ArtsCanvas. Your thoughts and opinions matter.