With the passing of the Dodgers’ great play-by-play announcer, Vin Scully, some fine tributes have been written. These have tended to repeat the same observations:
His career was unbelievably long—67 years as an announcer, linking Brooklyn with Los Angeles, Koufax with Kershaw.
He called many of baseball’s most famous moments, including Don Larson’s perfect World Series game, Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s career home run record, Bill Buckner’s error that cost Boston the Series, Kirk Gibson’s “impossible” walk-off home run.
He taught baseball to generations of Southern California fans, including me. We listened to Vinnie—that’s what we called him—on transistor radios, even when we were in the ballpark.
He was a consummate storyteller.
I won’t try to compete with these observations, which by now are well known. Instead, I’ll make a few comments of my own that I haven’t read elsewhere.
Most people know that Vinnie worked alone, without a color commentator. What hasn’t been mentioned is the result: that instead of us overhearing a conversation between buddies, as with many good broadcasts, we’re in the conversation. My friend Vinnie is talking with me, not with some third person, and he is my friend.
His broadcast style, rich with anecdotes from a long life in baseball, is especially missed these days, when announcers rarely tell stories, assuming instead that we would rather hear statistics. Baseball people, desperate to lure more fans into ballparks, need only listen to Vinnie’s broadcasts to find the answer: stories, not stats; people, not numbers.
But calling Vinnie a storyteller doesn’t do justice to his art. Jack Buck was a storyteller, and a great one. So was Joe Garagiola. They were guys you might sit beside in a bar, enjoying a few laughs over a beer.
Vinnie, at his best, did something I’ve never heard another announcer do. He would make an observation early in the game, then build on it as the innings went on, weaving it in and around his play-by-play, and by the end of the game it was a theme, a truth of baseball and of life.
Vin Scully was more than a storyteller. He was a baeball novelist.
We love you, Vinnie. Rest in peace.