Greatest sports figures in L.A. history No. 3: Vin Scully
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Continuing our countdown of the 20 greatest figures in L.A. sports history, as chosen in voting by our online readers, with No. 3, Vin Scully.
No. 3 Vin Scully (263 first-place votes, 7,141 points)
Vin Scully is the greatest baseball broadcaster who ever lived. What else needs to be said? Even during a Dodgers season that was overshadowed by the Frank and Jamie McCourt news, you knew that it would all melt away when you turned on the TV and heard Scully’s voice.
Scully has been calling Dodgers games for an amazing 61 years. In 2010, the American Sportscasters Assn. put his name atop the list of the 50 greatest to ever sit behind a microphone. He was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame in 1982.
Scully joined Hall of Fame announcer Red Barber and Connie Desmond as part of the Brooklyn Dodgers’ broadcast team in 1950, just a year after graduating from Fordham University. To put his longevity in different terms, when he began, gasoline cost 27 cents a gallon, a postage stamp was just three cents and the minimum wage was five cents per hour.
In 1953, Scully, then 25, became the youngest person to broadcast a World Series game.
Perhaps his best-known call was of Kirk Gibson’s home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.
‘High fly ball into right field, she is gone,’ Scully said before remaining silent for more than a minute. ‘In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened.’
Scully’s voice is often dubbed the ‘soundtrack to summer’ in Los Angeles, where generations of fans have grown up listening to him call Dodger games. In 2012, he will continue to call all Dodger home games and the club’s road games against NL West and AL West opponents. While Scully handles all nine innings of the team’s television broadcasts, the first three innings of each of his games is simulcast on radio.
On a personal note, I was fortunate enough to meet Scully one time. There is almost no greater thrill in life than hearing Vin Scully say your name, which he did when I was introduced to him.
His broadcasting highlights include:
Three perfect games (Don Larsen in 1956, Sandy Koufax in 1965 and Dennis Martinez in 1991) and 19 no-hitters.
Johnny Podres’ shutout of the Yankees in Game 7 of the 1955 World Series, which gave the Dodgers their first World Series title.
The Dodgers’ first game in Los Angeles at the Coliseum on April 18, 1958.
The Dodgers-Yankees exhibition game on May 7, 1959 that honored Roy Campanella before a then-Major League record 93,103 fans at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
The Dodgers’ playoff win over the Milwaukee Braves and World Series victory over the Chicago White Sox in 1959, which gave them their second World Series title; and other World Series title seasons in Los Angeles in 1963, 1965, 1981 and 1988.
Hank Aaron’s 715th career home run, which broke Babe Ruth’s major league record, at Atlanta’s Fulton County Stadium on April 8, 1974.
The dramatic 10th inning of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, where Bill Buckner’s error allowed the Mets to force Game 7.
Other awards include:
Named the Most Memorable Personality in L.A. Dodger history by Dodger fans in 1976.
Had his star placed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1982.
Named the country’s Outstanding Sportscaster four times and California Sportscaster of the Year 29 times by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Assn.
Recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Sports Emmy Award in 1996 for his ‘distinguished and outstanding’ work.
-- Houston Mitchell