Newsletter: Vin Scully narrated baseball and our lives. He cannot be praised enough
Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022. With unbearably heavy hearts, let’s look back at the week in Opinion.
If no one tells me to stop, I could write about Vin Scully every other day. As someone who’s been aware as long as he can remember of what that day’s Dodger score was, who pitched and where the team would be playing tomorrow, I have a lifetime of graduations, first dates, children born and embarrassing moments connected in some way to whatever Vin said that day (if it was during the baseball season). True, the man hasn’t called a game for the Dodgers since retiring in 2016, but his death Tuesday at age 94 has so many of us yearning for just one more “pleasant good evening to you wherever you may be,” as if the 67 years in the broadcast booth he gave us weren’t enough.
I’ve already written about the fatherly presence of Vin’s voice in my life, so in honor of him and his humility, I’ll take a cue from his keen sense of when it was appropriate to quiet down and let the thundering crowd call the game for him. My turn to appreciate Vin has come and gone, so I’ll let the chorus of praise take over.
Writing on our op-ed page, poet D.J. Waldie summed up Vin’s appeal to literary ears: “He talked about the weather, about the twilight gathering, about the history of the game, about nothing really that important. That voice, with calm assurance, said that sometimes talking about nothing really that important spoke something into being. A voice could do that, I found as I listened. Later, as a writer, I would want to do that too.”
On our letters page, readers shared their indelible memories of Vin, most of them as listeners, but a handful from meeting the man himself: “In the early 1980s I was in an elevator at Dodger Stadium, with Vin, and I asked him if he could sign the vintage program, which he did. You have to look hard to find it. He always just signed ‘Vin.’”
The Washington Post Opinion section published this piece by sportswriter Rick Reilly, who identifies a particular talent Vin had that weary L.A. commuters knew well: “My God, could he converse. Scully was so entertaining he could make you look forward to a Los Angeles traffic jam. Living in L.A., I see someone sitting at the wheel of their car in the driveway, engine running, staring at the dashboard, and I know what’s going on: Scully is in mid-story and they just can’t bear going into the house before it’s over.”
Of course, there are also The Times’ own non-Opinion columnists with their own appreciations, including Gustavo Arellano, Helene Elliott, Bill Plaschke and Dylan Hernandez. And if you’ve never listened to him before, do yourself a favor and spend a few minutes taking in perhaps the greatest half-inning of baseball ever narrated, Vin Scully’s call of the final three outs of pitcher Sandy Koufax’s perfect game on Sept. 9, 1965.
Kansas voters showed the nation how to keep abortion rights safe. The Times Editorial Board encourages abortion rights proponents to learn from what happened in Kansas: “If [voters protected abortion rights] in Kansas, a state with a Republican supermajority in the Legislature, can voters do it elsewhere? They can — and should — vote for constitutional amendments that protect abortion rights and vote down amendments that won’t. And they can vote against candidates who would take away abortion rights. In fact, looking at the turnout and the resounding win in Kansas, the message to legislators who oppose abortion rights is: Your time is up.” L.A. Times
Why make the grizzly bear California’s state animal — after they’re all gone? Nicholas Goldberg puzzles over the Legislature’s declaration of the grizzly bear as the official state animal in 1953, decades after they had been eradicated from California. Goldberg notes the ruthlessness with which grizzlies were eliminated: “Before California grizzlies were killed off, the pages of The Times were filled with stories of their ferocity. The paper praised the ‘single-shot grizzly bear king,’ Chester Ellsworth of Long Beach, who had killed 30, each with just one shot from his Winchester 405. There were articles about the savage bear-and-bull fights with which humans amused themselves, and of encounters in the wild. A typical account depicted a ‘Thrilling Battle with Giant Grizzly,’ extolling the ‘skill, daring and accuracy’ required to hunt them.” L.A. Times
Monkeypox is not the next COVID. But it’s spreading from the same failures. Wendy Orent explains why we should have seen the U.S. outbreak of monkeybox coming and acted long before it arrived here: “The scandal of monkeypox is that this worldwide outbreak has happened at all. An epidemic has persisted in Nigeria since 2017. A more deadly strain has caused thousands of suspected cases and likely killed hundreds in the Democratic Republic of Congo. At least eight people have died in the current outbreak.” L.A. Times
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The anti-Gascón drive extends this era of destructive, distracting recall mania. The editorial board sees a lot that has nothing to do with L.A. County Dist. Atty. George Gascón’s performance in the effort to remove him from office: “The D.A. has become the latest vessel into which residents wrestling with anxiety over disease, lockdowns, political turmoil, violence and societal disruption have poured their fears — and into which opponents of criminal justice reforms, and opportunists of various political stripes but most notably from the far right, have placed their hopes.” L.A. Times
Lt. Uhura of “Star Trek” took Black actresses where none had gone before. Editorial writer Carla Hall has this stirring appreciation of Nichelle Nichols, who died last Saturday at age 89: “In an era when Black women mainly played servants or entertainers on TV — if they were on TV at all — she was an officer on the Enterprise with whom Capt. Kirk conferred as seriously as he did Mr. Spock and all the other officers. I remember watching the show as a little girl and marveling that she was even there. She was smart and beautiful and clad in a red thigh-high form-fitting tunic that somehow she managed to carry off as legitimate astronaut wear.” L.A. Times
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