6 ways Vin Scully is unique among sports announcers
Vin Scully will call his final game for the Los Angeles Dodgers in San Francisco Sunday, capping off a 67-year career in sports broadcasting.
It’s by far the longest tenure of any announcer in any major sport, but Scully will be remembered for much more than just his longevity.
Below are six reasons why Scully is considered by many to be the best announcer who ever lived. (Did we leave something out? Add it to the comment section at the bottom.)
1. He's a poet
"For those of us mere mortals who broadcast baseball games, I think of us as reporters sprinting to keep up with the story and paint the picture as accurately as we can," said Dodgers announcer Charley Steiner. "Vin, on the other hand, is a poet."
Sometimes Scully recites poetry, like when the Dodgers were staring at defeat one time in the bottom of the ninth.
More often, Scully’s own words sound like poetry, like his famous call of Sandy Koufax’s perfect game in 1965.
A transcript of Scully’s call of that ninth inning was later included in an anthology of the best baseball literature. Many people wrongly assumed it had been edited.
“I think the part that is amazing is that when you read it, it sounds like it was put down on paper after the fact when somebody had a lot of time to do that and to think about and get it just right, but no, it was as it happened, as he saw it,” said San Francisco announcer Jon Miller.
2. He has the best stories
Scully has never cared much about stats. For him, it’s all about the stories, and after 67 seasons he has some great ones. But it's not like he comes to the ballpark with a list of stories he wants to tell that day. Rather, his stories always relate to something that has just happened on the field. He has the unique ability to contract or condense his tales and end them just as the inning is ending.
3. He talks directly to viewers.
Scully is the last TV announcer to work solo in the booth, so unlike most telecasts that feel as if you’re eavesdropping on a conversation, with Scully it’s like he’s a friend talking just to you. That's why he has always had such a close relationship with fans.
4. He has genuine warmth
Scully can make the mundane magical, like when he learned what a Twitter hashtag was, or a selfie.
Scully says nothing makes him happier than his 16 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. And during games when the camera has panned to a young one in the crowd, Scully lights up even more.
Scully has said he occasionally sings musicals on the way to the ballpark with his wife, but when he spoke to KPCC three years ago, he said he’s never played a character on the air.
"If you say, 'Are you different on the air and not on the air?' the answer is no, I'm just me," Scully said. "I'm so happy to be here."
During Scully's final games at Dodger Stadium last weekend, fans could be seen weeping in the stands, mourning the loss of a companion who in many cases has been there for their whole lives.
Scully may have been the only who wasn’t sad.
“All I feel is thanksgiving," he said at his farewell press conference Saturday. "The Lord has blessed me. He gave me this job at such a youthful age and allowed me to live and do it for 67 years. What am I going to say, 'Darn it, why didn’t I get number 68?'"
5. He's one-of-a-kind
If you turn on a baseball game these days, a lot of the announcers sound the same. Scully has always sounded unique, which he says is no accident, because of a valuable lesson his mentor and broadcast partner taught him his rookie year.
"Red Barber said to me, to this young, 22-year-old, wide-eyed kid: 'You bring something into the booth that no one else brings in,"' Scully said. "I was shocked. I looked at him and said, 'what do I bring in?' And he said: 'yourself.' And he said, 'If you listen to other broadcasters, either by design or without even thinking about it, you'll begin to adopt to some of their intonations, some of their expressions and phrases.' And I thought, I'd be watering my wine."
6. He's been doing it for so long (and he's as great as ever)
Scully has been broadcasting Dodger games for nearly seven decades, moving with the team from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to Dodger Stadium, from radio to television to the Internet age. He started young – joining the Dodgers at age 22 and calling his first World Series at 25. In all, he has called nearly 10,000 Dodger games, and lived long enough to meet legends like Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson.
Scully was there for Don Larsen’s World Series perfect game in in 1956, for Sandy Koufax’s perfect game in 1965, for Henry Aaron’s 715th career home run in 1974, for Kirk Gibson’s World Series Game in 1988 and for Fernando Valenzuela’s no-hitter in 1990.
While many players and other announcers have stayed well past their prime, Scully is going out on top with his fastball as sharp as ever.