(August 8, 2022) Listen to audio here
I was five years old, already a sporty girl with three brothers and a father who’d been a fan of the L.A. Angels of the Pacific Coast League when major league baseball came to the West Coast, in 1958. I have warm memories of evenings spent listening with Dad to Dodger games broadcast out of a four-foot high piece of living room furniture, the family radio. And on that radio was the voice of the best teacher a kid could ever learn from, Vin Scully.
Scully, who died last Tuesday at the age of 94, was a storyteller. He’d invite listeners to “pull up a chair” and join him for a game of baseball, where he might describe catchers as “wig-wagging” signs out to their pitchers. The game didn’t have to be exciting for it to be entertaining. But when something momentous did happen and Scully was behind the microphone, his call and personal reaction to history were often just as noteworthy: Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series; Hank Aaron’s home run in 1974 to surpass Babe Ruth’s record; Bill Buckner’s error in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series; and a call I listened to on the transistor radio under my pillow in 1965, Sandy Koufax’s fourth no-hitter, a perfect game. The transcript of Scully’s call of the 9th inning reads like a perfect first draft, and ended with a signature Vin move: stepping back so the radio audience could hear the cheers from the crowd. He had the timing of a great performer. The broadcast booth was his stage.
I was reminded by the many tributes to Vin Scully that he also worked in television, and sports other than baseball. But to me he was a radio guy—broadcasting for the ear, not the eye. He dignified the sport of baseball for 67 summers as a Dodgers announcer. He’s probably the reason I prefer listening now to my San Francisco Giants broadcasters on the radio—in the kitchen, under my pillow, or at the ballpark.
With a Perspective, I’m Debbie Duncan.