It was fitting that the news came to me over the radio Tuesday evening that Vin Scully, the eternal voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers, will return for the next baseball season, which will be Scully's 66th year of calling Dodgers games.
Think about that. Sixty-six years. Most people born in 1950, the year Scully made his debut in the Brooklyn Dodgers radio booth at the age of 22, have already retired (average retirement age: 62). The Korean War was still a few months away. Professional baseball was segregated, the majors consisted of 16 teams, and there were no top-level professional sports franchises in Los Angeles, then part of a county of about 4.2 million people (now there are more than 10 million county residents).
In fact, the Los Angeles Dodgers wouldn't come into being for another eight years, when the team uprooted from Brooklyn to head west (the same year I was born). A friend who grew up in Brooklyn well after the Dodgers left for the sunshine and warm winters of Southern California still hates the team, an inherited emotional legacy that measures the depth of the wounds run from that particular act of abandonment.
I never dared ask her what she thinks of Scully.
The announcement was done with class. I was sitting on the patio with a cold beer and a warm dog nearby, which has become a ritual since the start of the season, at least for the games Scully works; he doesn't travel much with the team. Since that whole broadcast squabble began that precludes most Angelenos from watching televised games, I suspect there are more people like me enjoying the games outdoors, radio at the elbow.
On Tuesday, you could tell something unusual was up. The usual between-innings ads ended and we were back live from the stadium,
Scully's response was perfectly understated. After a long ovation from the audience (standing, as I would later learn), he chuckled. "Boy, it's tough to get over that," updated the score (Dodgers were losing at the moment), then thanked the people involved in making the announcement. "All I can say is thank God, and please God, for another year. But let's get back to work now."
And so he did. Which reminds me of another vintage Scully line from years ago during a game against the
"Andre Dawson has a bruised knee and is listed as day to day," Scully said, then paused. "Aren't we all?"
Well, most of us.