(Click here for a video of John reading this Catch.)
With the All Star game set for tonight in Dodger Stadium, it seemed fitting to go back to a Catch I wrote in 2016 in honor of Vin Scully’s last game. You can’t breath the words Dodger Stadium without hearing Scully’s voice somewhere in the mix.
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.
And so for the last time, “This is Vin Scully, wishing you a very pleasant good evening wherever you may be.”