67 years of making people important

...and a very pleasant good evening to you all, wherever you may be.

…and a very pleasant good evening to you all, wherever you may be.

He had a voice that was made for the transistor radio. It was a match made in baseball heaven.

We cannot say goodbye to baseball, 2016, without joining everybody else in the sports world for a fitting send-off to Vin Scully, voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers for 67 years. I understand all the fuss because I grew up in southern California and knew that velvety voice well on my bright red transistor radio. I had that radio taped to my handlebars while I delivered papers. I had it tucked under my pillow at night while I fell asleep. I even played I was Vinny announcing imaginary games in my backyard that I made up from throwing a tennis ball on our roof and trying to catch it as it glanced unpredictably off the shingles. If I couldn’t catch it, it was a single, double, triple or home run depending on where it landed in the yard. I played complete games with lineup cards and score keeping, and, of course, Vin Scully announcing every play: “There’s a sharp line drive into the right field corner, that should score everybody. In comes Wills, in comes Davis, in comes Drysdale, the throw to second — not in time — it’s 6-3 Dodgers!”

What was it about this guy that made everybody love him so much. Well, I think it was the fact that he loved everybody. It was as if he knew he was being invited into people’s homes and their daily lives, and he cherished and respected that honor. He studied up on players from both teams. He had a backlog of stories on every player (he even had stories on batboys, cameramen and ground’s keepers) and he pulled them out whenever there a lull in the action. If the story was unusually long, he’d stretch it out over two or three batters. He didn’t just announce the action, he made the game human.

He was the embodiment of Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Vin Scully has endured a couple of personal tragedies having lost his first wife after 15 years of marriage to an accidental medical overdose, and his oldest son, Michael, died in a helicopter crash in 1994 at the age of 33. Scully, a devout Roman Catholic, credits his faith and being able to dive back into his work with helping him ease the burden of grief. You can see both his faith and his trials as expressed in this, his farewell gift to his many fans.

May God give you for every storm, a rainbow
For every tear, a smile
For every care, a promise
and a blessing in each trial
for every problem life sends,
a faithful friend to share
For every sigh, a sweet song
and an answer for each prayer

“You and I have been friends for a long time,” he concluded in a good-bye video,
“but I’ve always known I needed you more than you’ve ever needed me.” There he is again, making everyone more important than himself.

And then there’s this from a nine-year-old girl.

Dear Vin Scully,

My dad has been talking about you all year long. He is always watching Dodger games and has told me how much he will miss you. He told me how listening to you talk about the Dodgers is something him and his dad have always shared together. My Grandpa is going to miss you too. I loved to curl up next to him and listen. Mostly because my dad likes it but also because I like the sound of your voice. I’ve heard your voice so many times it’s like you’re another grandpa to me even though I’ve never met you. I’ve never seen my dad cry before but he had tears in his eyes when he told me we were watching your last game. Thank you for making my dad so happy.

Bailey, 9

And so for the last time, “This is Vin Scully, wishing you a very pleasant good evening wherever you may be.”

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2 Responses to 67 years of making people important

  1. I love Vin. God bless him.

  2. drewdsnider says:

    This touched me deeply, partly because I was a big fan of Vin over the years — I used to watch the NBC Game of the Week in the 80s and 90s mainly to listen to him and Joe Garagiola — more like hanging out with two old friends, talkin’ ball while watching the game. It also left me wondering if there are any of those “old friend in the living room” sportscasters anymore. But mainly, it reminded me that Vin represents the side of baseball we all dream of: your backyard games, for example (although wouldn’t Don Drysdale, a pitcher, have scored ahead of Maury Wills and Willie Davis?), or the first partly cloudy, 70-degree day of the year, when the best thing you can think of is to spend hours on the field, even if it’s just shagging flies. There are ugly sides to the game, too — the big money, the drugs, even the over-analysis — but Vin, and Joe, and the guys I grew up listening to — Dave Van Horne, Duke Snider and Jim Robson in Vancouver — kept the ideal alive.

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