When NBC paired Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola in 1983, there were some doubters.
How would Garagiola, who was asked to go from play-by-play man to commentator, take to being No. 2? And how would Scully, who had always worked Dodger games without a commentator, take to having one as chatty as Garagiola?
Well, now in its fifth year, the marriage is working.
Scully and Garagiola are considered by many to be the best baseball announcing team ever. And these two all-star broadcasters, who will announce Tuesday's All-Star Game, are also buddies.
About working with Garagiola, Scully says: "I've enjoyed every minute of the past five seasons."
Scully, at one time, was sensitive about speculation of trouble between him and Garagiola. To promote its coverage of the 1983 All-Star Game, NBC asked Scully and Garagiola to take part in a press conference in Los Angeles during a time when many columnists who write about television were in town.
Garagiola was asked how he liked being a commentator rather than a play-by-play man. He answered by saying all the right things--essentially that it was great.
Scully, in turn, was asked how he liked working with a commentator. And he, too, said all the right things--essentially that it was great.
At a Dodger game a couple of days later, Scully was asked if, indeed, he liked working with a commentator, and was it time for the Dodgers to break away from the one-announcer-at-a-time format and hire a commentator?
Scully explained that he was comfortable working with a commentator on the network because in that situation one was needed, but he added that there was no need for the Dodgers to change what he called a winning formula.
"When you talk to a guy in Dubuque, you have to supply more information than when you talk to someone who listens to the Dodgers every night," Scully said at the time.
The headline on this column a couple of days later said: "Scully Still Prefers Working Alone." There wasn't room to say: "Scully Still Prefers Working Alone on Dodger Broadcasts but Sees Need for a Commentator When Working for NBC."
Scully was livid. "That headline was a slap in the face to Joe," he said. "I know the writer doesn't write the headline, but your headline writer read your column exactly the way I did."
Several months later, after Scully and Garagiola received a favorable review in this column for their work in the 1983 playoffs, a letter from Scully arrived.
"I particularly appreciate the fact that you wrote what you did after we crossed swords earlier this year," Scully wrote. "You mentioned the preseason speculation about two giant egos in the same booth, a speculation for the most part made by a Boston writer whom I have never even met.
"It was this negative, almost spiteful attitude, that I found appalling, as if writers were wishing for the failure of a marriage before the vows were even taken. How very sad."
Scully is a little uncomfortable about his celebrity status. He has said that if it were up to him, he'd just as soon forgo doing interviews with reporters. But he realizes that promoting NBC telecasts is part of his job, so, he agreed to do a conference call and chat with several reporters Wednesday morning.
Scully made the commitment without ever dreaming that he'd be working until 3:30 a.m. the night before. Because of Tuesday night's rain delay in St. Louis, a doubleheader between the Dodgers and the Cardinals ended at 3:02 a.m. CDT. Then Scully had to do a postgame show before leaving the park.
"After a game, it takes me awhile to unwind," Scully said. "I can't go to sleep right away, even if it's almost 4 a.m. So, no, I didn't get much sleep last night."
Today, Scully is in Houston, where he'll announce tonight's game between the Astros and the New York Mets for NBC, which is offering a rare Friday night telecast. The pregame show begins at 5 p.m., and the game, with the Astros' Mike Scott facing the Mets' Dwight Gooden, will begin about 5:15.
It will be the Astros and Mets again Saturday at 10:45 a.m. on the "Game of the Week," with Scully and Garagiola also announcing the game.
Scully, who has been announcing baseball since 1950, says the job still excites him. "Before Tuesday night's game, I will look out over the crowd and, I swear to you, I'll get goose bumps," he said.
"I always do when I stop to think about the magnitude of a game like an All-Star Game. It's overwhelming to me. The day when the goose bumps aren't there and I'm saying to myself, 'Gee, I'd really rather be home,' then that's the day I pack it in."
Scully says there is one piece of advice that has helped him tremendously in his career. It came from his mentor, Red Barber.
"He said, 'There's one thing you can bring to the booth that no one else can, and that is yourself.'
"I have never tried to imitate another announcer," Scully said. "I have never borrowed or stolen a line or a cliche from another announcer. I have always tried to be myself."
There's a lesson here for young announcers, particularly for one who is known for trying to copy Dick Enberg. Are you listening, Al Conin?
TV-Radio Notes Versatile sportscaster Jim Lampley and ABC have parted company. Lampley asked Dennis Swanson, ABC Sports president, why he wasn't getting better assignments and why his role at the 1988 Winter Olympics hadn't been decided. Then, not getting the answers he sought, Lampley quit with 17 months remaining on his contract. . . . Lampley, 38, was hired by ABC in 1974 while he was still attending the University of North Carolina. He was one of two college students hired to serve as sideline reporters during college football telecasts. Lampley's career at ABC blossomed. Roone Arledge, former division president, gave Lampley top assignments. Apparently, Swanson was not as impressed by Lampley. . . . Reportedly, some co-workers thought Lampley was condescending. "I have never had a problem getting along with people," Lampley said. "I have a lot of very close friends who work for ABC." Opinion: This reporter always found Lampley a delight to be around and a talented announcer. . . . Lampley's agent, Art Kaminsky, has talked with NBC about his client. But an NBC spokesman said there doesn't appear to be an opening for Lampley at this time. Lampley has been looking elsewhere, as well. "I have found the last few days that there are a lot of opportunities out there," he said. Lampley is currently doing a five-days-a-week show for new all-sports radio station WFAN in New York.
Long-time NBC baseball director Harry Coyle will not be calling the shots during the All-Star Game Tuesday. Coyle will serve as coordinating producer and let John Gonzalez have the experience of directing a major baseball telecast. "If nobody notices a difference, that will be a compliment," Gonzalez said. "Harry is the best in the business. And he'll be there right alongside of me in the truck, just like always." The game producer will be George Finkel. . . . NBC's pregame coverage will begin at 5 p.m., and the game will start around 5:30. . . . An NBC spokesman said it is hoped that the strike against the network by technical workers would not affect the coverage greatly. Some of the work is being subcontracted, but NBC is using management people where possible, the spokesman said, adding that there might be more production problems on other events, such as the Frank Tate-Troy Darrell fight at Atlantic City, N.J., which will be part of Sunday's "SportsWorld." . . . CBS Radio will broadcast the All-Star Game, with coverage beginning at 5:20 p.m. The announcers will be Brent Musburger and Johnny Bench. The San Diego Padres' Jerry Coleman will be the host of the pregame and postgame shows.
Kudos Dept.: Joe Morgan, who worked the Boston-Oakland game for NBC last Saturday with Ted Robinson, is a marvelous baseball commentator. He gives the viewer extensive insight. If he has a fault, it is that he talks too much. . . . Channel 13 has acquired the rights to the 1988 Los Angeles Marathon on March 6. . . . FNN/SCORE, which will televise the Mark Breland-Ron Rondon fight at Sardinia tonight at 7, has acquired the rights to Aaron Pryor's comeback 10-round fight Aug. 8. Pryor is tentatively scheduled to meet Harry Arroyo.