On the TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS May 30, 2016 #595 Up next…To “Red” – a Tribute!
The Sports Illustrated cover for the May 16, 2016 issue featured “The Man Behind the ‘Voice of Baseball’” Vin Scully. Legally known as Vincent Edward Scully, the 1949 Fordham University graduate still answers to the nickname “Red,” earned, of course, for the hair color that is still visible along with tinges of gray. At the end of the 2016 season, after 67 years behind the mike, Scully is retiring. Summer will never be the same for a stadium full of Dodger fans listening to him. ‘Wait a minute!’ you shout – ‘Scully is not the public address announcer. He’s the radio and television voice of Dodger broadcasts.’
Well now, you just wait a minute! Perhaps you’ve never been to a game at Dodger Stadium. Going back 54 years you could find thousands of fans clutching their transistor radios to their ears, listening to Scully as they watch the game on the field below. They still do; ‘course now it’s Vin streaming into their iPhones via live feeds from apps and subscriptions of every description.
But let’s back up for a look at the history of my acquaintance with baseball broadcasters. In my youth, each night I listened to the likes of Red (there’s that unavoidable nickname again) Barber, Marty Glickman and the other eastern broadcasters, since California didn’t yet have MLB. I admired their vocal talents, and that admiration extended over the passing years to broadcasters like Jack Buck, Dick Enberg, Chris Schenkel, Ray Scott, Pat Summerall, Jack Whitaker, and more recently Jim Nantz, the voice of CBS Sports. All articulate and supremely professional. But the unique style and eloquence of Scully is not to be denied, and I’m sure all of the above feel as I do. I remember Scully’s description of a foul ball that crashed into the broadcast booth one evening at Dodger Stadium, Scully said, “My wife, Sandy, while not often in the booth with me, is here today; and that foul ball almost ‘naaaaillled’ her!’”
Scully and I met in the early ‘60s when I attended games at Dodger Stadium. One of my lifelong friends, Rollie Seidler had the good sense to marry Teresa O’Malley, daughter of Walter O’Malley, the owner who moved the Dodgers from Brooklyn to L.A. It was a sad day for all “Dem Bums” fans in Brooklyn, but good fortune for Angelenos.
In the mid-70s, Scully called me when I was superintendent in the Bellflower Unified School District and, of course, still very active as an NFL referee. He said CBS invited him to do play-by-play for their upcoming NFL games, and asked would I sit down with him and discuss NFL rules, and their interpretations and nuances. I accepted his invitation and visited with him for dinner at Dodger Stadium before ball games several times to have those discussions. Scully worked some seven seasons as an NFL play-by-play announcer finishing that segment of his NFL career with “The Catch” game – the Dallas vs San Francisco NFC Championship matchup, in which I was the Referee.
Will you pattern your accomplishments with the humility of Vin Scully’s?
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