My second book, “The Games That Changed Baseball: Milestones In Major League History”, is now available for pre-order from McFarland!
As part of this, I’m releasing the 18 unpublished chapters over the course of this spring and summer here on The Jeopardy! Fan.
In honour of this being Vin Scully’s final season as Dodgers broadcaster, my first released chapter will be about his first game with the Dodgers, all the way back on April 18, 1950:
Date: April 18, 1950
Site: Shibe Park
Teams: Brooklyn Dodgers vs. Philadelphia Phillies
Significance: Vin Scully broadcasts his first Dodgers game
Impact: The standard by which all baseball broadcasters should be measured begins
“It may sound corny, but, I enjoyed listening to Vin (Scully) call a game almost more than playing in them. He’s been a special broadcaster for a lot of years and he’s been wonderful to listen to for a lot of years. He definitely is the All-Century broadcaster as far as I’m concerned.” — Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax
“There is no broadcaster in baseball with Vinny’s eloquence, sense of humor, knowledge of baseball history, and genuine class.” — DodgerBlues.com
“Baseball fans everywhere should thank God they were alive during any part of Vin Scully’s career.” — a posting on MLB’s website after it was announced that Vin Scully would return to the broadcast booth in 2015 for his 66th season of Dodger baseball
“It’s time for Dodger baseball! Hi, everybody, and a very pleasant good (day/evening) to you, wherever you may be.” –Vin Scully’s usual opening to his broadcasts
When Vincent Edward Scully, the ageless wonder of the baseball broadcasting business, first began describing MLB games for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1950—yes, the Dodgers were in Brooklyn at the time and no one for a moment thought they would ever move—Connie Mack was still managing the Philadelphia Athletics; a western road trip meant a team was heading by train to Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland or St. Louis; the most southern locale in MLB was Washington, D.C.; the Braves were located in Boston—heck, Vin Scully called the last Boston Braves’ game!,—rock-and-roll music was unknown, television was a novelty item that only the well-to-do owned, the Korean War was two months away from starting, and MLB was still getting used to the idea of racial integration. In 2016 Scully will begin his 67th and final year of broadcasting with the Dodgers. With the exception of Connie Mack, no single individual has served MLB so well for so long.
The key to Scully’s success is not what he does but how he does it. According to Gary Kaufman of salon.com,
Vin Scully has the most musical voice in baseball. He doesn’t have the clipped, old-time-radio cadence of most broadcasters who date back to the ’50s and beyond. Although his timbre is thin, everything is smooth and rounded. The words slide into each other. He has flow. The melody rises and falls on the tide of the game. You can almost hum along to Vin Scully. He’s often referred to as baseball’s poet laureate, and those who don’t get him parody him by quoting Emerson or spouting flowery language. But even though he will occasionally toss off some verse (he’s likely to find the lyrics of an old show tune more apt) or call a cheap base hit “a humble thing, but thine own,” the real metaphor for Vin Scully isn’t poetry, or even music: It’s painting. Other radio announcers can tell you what’s happening on the field, and you can imagine it. With Vin Scully, you can see it. His command of the language and the game is so masterful that he always has just the right words to describe what’s going on. He paints you a picture.