Why Vin Scully wasn’t ready to leave the mic behind
LOS ANGELES — The most famous baseball fan in the world will resume his post in a Chavez Ravine broadcast booth next season, because after all these years, there is still no place else that he would rather be.
For an unprecedented 66th year, Vin Scully will return as the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The announcement, made Tuesday night during the Dodgers’ 8-4 win over the Atlanta Braves, was celebrated throughout baseball. But he’s still curious as to why.
Scully simply considers himself another fan.
"Last night in the first inning, you have B.J. Upton at third and we all know he can run very well, and there’s a fly ball to Puig in center field. And I’m not a mind reader but I felt exactly like the crowd. I inch forward and I was saying to myself, ‘Oh this is going to be great. Upton’s gonna tag up and Puig with the…’" he paused, catching himself in his excitement. "And I knew the entire ballpark was on that exact same level."
His passion for the game and for his job has never been higher. At 86 years old, he still so genuinely enjoys calling plays like the one from Tuesday night that he’s just not ready to leave the mic behind.
"And it wasn’t disappointing, it was a great throw and a great slide and B.J. made it for the run," he said. "And after that I sat back and I thought, ‘That’s the way you were the first day you ever started doing this game.’
"You see this play building and it just gets to you. And God as my judge, that play last night convinced me, as if I had any doubts, but I thought, ‘Here you are, doing the same thing and getting the exact same goosebumps from that thrill of anticipation of seeing a great play.’"
Scully’s ability to weave a tale is what really induces goosebumps. For the casual sports fan, baseball can sometimes be difficult to follow with so many lulls and breaks in action. But listening to Scully is an experience.
The stories, the verbiage, the jokes and that smooth, yet familiar voice. Listeners and viewers tune in because of that sweet voice. It’s a constant, they know he will always be there like, as he said, "an old pair of slippers," and it’s comforting to many. Baseball is different when Vin talks about it.
Bursting with humility, he actually feels as though he’s lost a step. But it’s part of his charm. He wants to be as authentic as possible.
"I think maybe I was quicker with coming up with an occasional good thought more so than I am now. Once in a while I’ll blunder into a good line," Scully said. "Once in a while I’ll say something (like) after Gibson’s home run that will have an impact. Or I’ll say something when Henry Aaron hit the home run and that was pretty good. But many times I drive home saying ‘Dummy, why didn’t you say what you’re thinking of right now?’"
Scully doesn’t travel as much as he used to both due to age and his wife, Sandy. He says the players’ wives eventually get their husbands back when their careers end but Sandy still sends hers out to work every night. But she gave him her blessing because he loves what he does so much.
"The day that I retire, God willing, Sandy and I will finally have 24 hours a day, seven days a week together," he said. "If she’ll tolerate me."
Scully went from playing in the streets of New York to calling some of the most important games in the history of the sport. It’s really all he’s ever wanted to do and until he decides to devote his life to Sandy, it’s what he will continue to do.
He’ll go to the ballpark, thrilled by the big plays and his place in the crowd.
"When I was about eight years old, I used to crawl under this big radio, and this was a long time ago, and the only sport would be a college football game. And I would crawl under it, and the only thing I knew was that I was intoxicated by the roar of the crowd," he said. "I thought, ‘Oh, I would love to be there.’ Then after a while, for whatever reason, I thought, ‘You know, I not only want to be there to hear the roar of the crowd, I’d like to be that fellow broadcasting the game.’"