There can be no better way to start off a tribute column to the renowned baseball broadcaster Vin Scully than by simply listing out some of his greatest calls.
“Little roller up along first…behind the bag! It gets through Buckner. Here comes Knight, and the Mets win it!”
Of course, I must start with this famous call of Mookie Wilson’s slow trickler in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series that went through Boston Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner’s legs, allowing the Mets to cap off an improbable come-from- behind victory.
“High fly ball into right field…she is gone! In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened!”
We can never forget Scully’s call of Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Kirk Gibson’s pinch-hit home run off future Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley of the Oakland Athletics in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.
“Fastball is hit to left field, down the line in the corner…home run!”
Only Vin Scully can make a World-Series walkoff home run even that much more exciting, as he did in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series when Joe Carter of the Toronto Blue Jays homered off Philadelphia Phillies closer Mitch Williams to give the Jays their second-straight championship title.
The list goes on and on — from Don Larsen’s World Series perfect game in 1956 to Sandy Koufax’s perfect game in 1965 to Hank Aaron’s 715th career home run in 1974 to his final sign-off in 2016.
Vin Scully was simply a legend, though he would want no part of that title.
The baseball world mourned the passing of this legend on Aug. 2, as the 94-year-old passed away peacefully.
His 67-year career calling games for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers made him the longest-tenured broadcaster with a single team in sports history.
Born in the Bronx, Scully was raised in an Irish Catholic family. He attended Fordham Prep and later Fordham University.
His illustrious career began in 1950 when he joined Red Barber and Connie Desmond in the booth for Brooklyn Dodgers broadcasts on both television and the radio.
He was only 22 years old at the time.
“Could you imagine being the voice of the Dodgers — who were at least the second-most popular team in the country — at the age of 22?” said Father Jim Devlin, a former Brooklyn Dodgers fan who is now pastor emeritus at Good Shepherd, Marine Park. “It was amazing at that age that you could wind up with a gig like that.”
Scully played as much a role in Father Devlin’s fandom as did the likes of the Dodgers’ greats, including Jackie Robinson, Gil Hodges, Duke Snider, Roy Campanella, and Pee Wee Reese — all five of whom are now Baseball Hall of Famers.
“I remember Vin Scully announcing the Dodgers games on Channel 9,” Father Devlin said. “He had a beautiful speaking voice. He painted a beautiful picture in a minimum of words.”
What set Scully apart was how he captured the entire scene of the ballpark into words — while also letting the natural sounds guide his presentation to the audience.
“Those were the days where not all the games were on TV,” Father Devlin added. “So we listened to games on the radio.”
In all the famous calls listed above, the audience can get goosebumps during the pauses in Scully’s voice, since the pandemonium of the crowd is so engulfing.
Brooklynites were of course devastated when the Dodgers moved west following the 1957 season.
Many of them were also devastated to know they’d no longer be hearing Scully’s sweet voice on a regular basis.
This was akin to pouring salt into an already opened wound.
Luckily, fans could tune in during his national broadcasts — especially during the World Series — to once again hear the poetic simplicity of Scully’s style.
The “Voice of the Dodgers” is now calling games in heaven.
Contact Jim Mancari via email at email@example.com.