In 1958, a Los Angeles Times columnist went on vacation, and the newspaper asked some guest columnists to fill in. One of these guest columnists was a local sports broadcaster who had just moved west with the Dodgers. Vin Scully wrote about the nun and the priest who encouraged him along the way, and in fewer than 600 words he beautifully explained religion, community, adulthood and the anxiety that puddles inside every post-adolescent male.
Vin Scully files away facts about each player, and then he repeats those facts forever. These are the facts he repeats about Buster Posey.
Some people like to read magazine profiles of top athletes, but I prefer to listen to Vin Scully tell their life stories in small chunks over the course of two decades. Tonight, the Giants will play the Dodgers. Buster Posey behind the plate, Vin Scully behind the microphone, as it has been 21 times before and as it will be forever and ever and ever and ever.
Vin Scully’s factoids might seem, oh, repetitive and occasionally arbitrary, but they are actually a very important part of humanity’s future. There will come a day when all the paper dissolves, and there will come a day when Stuxnet erases all of our digital documentation, but there will never come a day when Vin Scully isn’t talking about baseball players. He is the only indestructible repository of historical information that mankind has ever created, and he is our only hope of remembering that Rich Aurilia once worked as a stagehand at the Metropolitan Opera.
A tough test ahead for 'a Dodger team that is a wonder.'
The Thursday Takeaway
A week ago, when the Dodgers put the finishing touches on a 7-6 win in their series opener against the White Sox, broadcaster Vin Scully was as captivated by their continued success as the fans watching on TV. That win was the 41st of the season for Los Angeles, then a league high, and after it, Scully—with all the eloquence you’d expect from the game’s best broadcaster—described “a Dodger team that is a wonder. You wonder how they do it.”
With his roster ravaged by injuries—most notably Matt Kemp’s hamstring, which has sidelined him essentially since mid-May—manager Don Mattingly fielded a lineup that could have made even the most optimistic fan cringe. Leadoff man Dee Gordon entered with an on-base percentage of .279. He was followed by Elian Herrera, a minor-league veteran getting his first look at the age of 27. And yes, that was indeed Jerry Hairston, Jr., of the .702 career OPS, batting fifth.
A broadcasting icon returns for at least one more year in the booth.
Inspired by yesterday’s glad tidings of Vin Scully’s return for a 62nd season in the Dodgers broadcast booth, I thought I’d take a stab at making a celebratory infographic in an attempt to capture Scully’s staying power. Craig Robinson (the creator of the brilliant Flip Flop Fly Ball, not the sub-replacement former Braves shortstop) I’m not and never will be, but here’s a look at how things have changed for the Dodgers since Scully first stepped behind the mic in 1950. Scully’s tenure extends even further back than our database, so I compiled pre-1954 personnel changes manually. Those little markers are Vin Scully bobbleheads, which you might just be able to make out if you click to embiggen:
Paying tribute to one of the game's great voices upon his passing.
Given that he retired in 2002, I'm not sure I ever heard Ernie Harwell call a full game, as his career preceded the bountiful period in which fans in any market can see or hear virtually any game. But as a fan steeped in baseball history and old enough to remember the Tigers' 1984 World Championship, I was certainly aware of him, and heard his smooth, lilting voice via numerous clips and occasional guest appearances in the booth over the years. Furthermore, I could appreciate how closely identified Harwell was with his team, for he was no less to the Tigers what Vin Scully is to the Dodgers, a golden voice ringing true through the decades, linking the day's game to the franchise's ancient lore, as essential to the team's identity as the Olde English D on the uniform. Yesterday, that voice was finally silenced, as Harwell passed away at the age of 92. Stricken by terminal cancer, he said his goodbyes last September, but that didn't prevent the news of his passing from producing any less emotion.
Few things beat a day game at Dodger Stadium narrated by Vin Scully.
He was right. Though my beloved Expos lost to the Dodgers that day, I
immediately fell in love with Dodger Stadium. Having been to the home
ballparks of 29 of MLB's 30 teams--I'll get you some day, Minnesota Twins!--it's
hard to describe exactly what makes a park too old to be a sparkling
palace and too young to be a historic treasure such a special place. Maybe
it's the palm trees up on the hill behind the ballpark. Maybe it's the
view of the mountains you can only get on that rare crystal-clear Los
Angeles afternoon. But sitting at Dodger Stadium, with neither a giant
Coke bottle nor a 37-foot wall to look at, it just feels like baseball.
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Mark Wolfson has been a television producer and director since
1969, and has worked in sports television since 1976, when he set up his
own production company in Los Angeles. In the ensuing 24 years, he's worked
on just about every sport, even the World Wrist Wrestling Championship from
the Queen Mary.
Mark produced and directed games for the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1977 to
1992, and says working with Vin Scully in those years gave him his
appreciation for baseball and its role on television. He also did games for
the Pittsburgh Pirates, Anaheim Angels, the USA Network and The Baseball