Scully provided soundtrack for life


Every life has a soundtrack.

You don’t realize it at the time. It’s only when you get later in life do you realize it.
It can be music, or the spoken word. It can be background noise, or consume you in its cacophony.
Vin Scully was a big part of my soundtrack.
I can still hear the voice of the legendary baseball announcer, who died on Tuesday at 94.
Scully, sportswriter Doug Padilla wrote on Twitter, “welcomed the spring, defined the summer, and ushered in the fall.” He called games for the Dodgers, first in Brooklyn, then in Los Angeles, for 67 seasons.
His career moved with the history of the game. His first games were on radio when that was all you had, his last games were available on Major League Baseball’s streaming service to be watched on laptops all around the world.
The games I remember most are the ones Scully called.
The great ones — Kirk Gibson’s home run in the 1988 World Series that the Dodgers won, Bill Buckner’s error in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, Dwight Clark’s catch to give the 49ers the win over the Dallas Cowboys in the 1981 NFC championship game.
The losses that haunt, like the 1985 NLCS loss to the Cardinals.
There were games that I watched that I’ve interjected Scully’s calls into my memory, even though I was watching another network.
There was the game in 1983, when the Dodgers beat the Braves in a late-September Sunday afternoon matchup that basically ended the NL West chase. The Dodgers rallied with four runs in the ninth inning for a 7-6 win, the last run coming on R.J. Reynolds’ squeeze bunt.
I watched the game on the Braves’ broadcast, but, thanks to YouTube, I’ve inserted Scully’s words into that memory.
“And Gene Garber, battling now to stay afloat…”
“One and 0…”
And then 64 seconds of silence.
There was an understated genius to Scully’s work. He let every game breathe, working at a pace few could match.
In 2006, the Dodgers won a key game in September against the San Diego Padres, hitting four consecutive home runs in the ninth inning to tie the game, then winning it in the 10th on a two-run homer by Normar Garciaparra.
Scully was a master at letting the moment speak, so, for the longest time, he said nothing after Garciaparra’s homer. The pictures, and the crowd noise, was all Scully thought was necessary.
Then he finally spoke up and simply said, “I forgot to tell you … the Dodgers are in first place.”
For the longest time, I was only acquainted with Scully through his national work, whether on CBS for golf or the NFL, and NBC for the Saturday baseball game of the week.
It was a no-brainer to subscribe, then, when MLB made local telecasts available on streaming services such as MLB.TV and radio broadcasts available on satellite radio.
It was then I got the full Vin, and it was worth every penny I spent.
Scully was that comfort zone, a three-hour escape every night in the spring and summer, every game in the tension of a fall pennant chase.
You learn when you grieve how important it is to breathe. I lost one of the best friends I ever had in the late summer of 2014, and it was Scully and the Dodgers who provided an escape in the personal and professional sadness and tumult that followed.
Every game from late August and September was an escape as the Dodgers were on their way to the NL West title. A Scully-called game was like that easy chair that enveloped you when you sat in it. Every inning in those weeks, it seemed, allowed me to exhale.
Every year there would be an announcement that Scully would be back for the next season, and he would always follow up that announcement by saying, “God willing.” Until 2015, when Scully announced the following season would be his last.
His final home game in 2016 ended on Charlie Culberson’s walk-off home run that clinched the NL West title. A week later, Scully’s final game was at San Francisco.
I heard his final words from that game again on Tuesday night.
“I have said enough,” he said, “for a lifetime.”
John Bohnenkamp is an award-winning sports reporter and a regular contributor to Pen City Current
John Bohnenkamp, Vin Scully, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Dodgers, Pen City Current, editorial, column, opinion


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here