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Dodgers

What Vin Scully means to me

Dodgers fans share their favorite memories of legendary broadcaster Vin Scully, who is retiring at the end of the season after 67 years with the club.

Dodgers Dugout newsletter writer Houston Mitchell got hundreds of responses after he asked readers to send in stories about what Vin Scully means to them. Here are some of the best:

Help with a report about Jackie Robinson

The grandson of Vin Scully attended the same elementary school as my children.  One of my sons, Tommy, had to do a report on someone they admired and he chose Jackie Robinson.  I approached the mother of Vin’s grandson and asked if she would pass my phone number on to Vin and maybe he could call Tommy and answer a few questions he had about Jackie.  Well, sure enough the phone rang about three days later and my husband answered the phone.  “Is Tommy there?” the voice on the other end asked.  When my husband said, “Yes, and may I ask who’s calling?”, the voice on the other end responded, “Vin Scully!” My husband almost dropped the phone. 

I sat next to Tommy as he asked him questions about Jackie and took notes and whispered questions to Tommy for him to ask Vin.  Vin spoke loud enough for me to also hear him through the receiver, so it was easy to take notes for Tommy while he interviewed Vin. 

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Tommy got an A on the paper and I photo-copied it and attached a thank you note and gave it to Vin’s grandson’s mother to pass on to Vin.  About a week later, Tommy received a handwritten note from Vin congratulating him on the A paper. What a cool guy.

Maria Marrone

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Introduction to baseball

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I am 23 years old, so I know I’m younger than most of the people that email you. But when I was 8, we had this very old school radio that had big speakers. One night, I was playing with the radio, pushing buttons and looking for stations and somehow I stopped when I heard a voice. I started listening and the voice kept explaining how Eric Gagne was about to enter to finish this game. I had no idea whose voice that was but I wanted to know why he was explaining a game that no one can see and just listen.

I had NEVER in my life listened to a baseball game, but because I was a girl and wanted to understand I got a notebook and started to write how fast Gagne’s first pitch was and every detail I could write to later understand this game. I remember using tally marks to see if it was a ball or a strike. Fast-forward a good seven years. I had the opportunity to go to my first Dodgers game ever. I was 15, and I got to the stadium entrance and heard Vin Scully say, “It’s time for Dodgers baseball!” I knew that I had found my passion for the rest of my life.

He is the reason the 8-year-old me started liking baseball, and I thank him because if he was not talking when I was playing with that radio, I would never have been introduced to the boys in blue.

Alejandra Sanchez

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A missed opportunity

The first-story apartment that I lived in as a little boy in Brooklyn was right next to P.S. 182, which I attended through the second grade.  As we played stickball on the cement playground — the “big” kids would let me shag the high-bounce rubber ball — I could hear Vin Scully and Jerry Doggett broadcasting the Dodgers games on a radio next to the Smith-Corona typewriter that my dad, a writer, was pounding away on. We moved to Los Angeles, three seasons ahead of the Dodgers’ arrival in 1958.  My dad worked for a small weekly newspaper that had season box seats just to the left of home plate at the Coliseum.  Between games of a doubleheader that first season — the Dodgers had seven home twinbills that year, and one ticket was good for both games — I saw Vin talking to someone in the stands near the makeshift press box that the Dodgers used at the Coliseum. Shyly, I approached him and waited for his conversation to end.  He noticed me, greeted me in a robust and friendly manner, and autographed a small piece of paper, which I unfortunately lost decades ago. Flash forward to 1974.  I am now a young sportswriter, covering the World Series between the Dodgers and the A’s at the Oakland Coliseum, which Vin is announcing.  Outgoing and beaming again, he walks near to where I am standing.  This time, however, I am too shy to approach, so I don’t ask for an autograph this time.  I wish that I had.

Lewis Leader

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Listening from afar

I became a Dodgers fan in 1962, drawn to them at the age of 9 by the names of Koufax, Drysdale, Wills, Roseboro, Snider, et al. Trouble was, I lived in Normal, Ill. (still do). I had to work hard to learn as much as I could about my new favorite team and, fortunately, their success in those years drew the attention of the national media. Of course, Vin Scully already was famously being heard on transistor radios throughout Dodger Stadium, and that was among the discoveries I made as I uncovered nuggets of treasure about the Dodgers.

After Sandy Koufax’s perfect game against the Cubs in 1965, Danny Goodman Concessions offered a 45 RPM record of the game’s highlights. I was a regular mail-order customer with my lawn-mowing earnings and allowance and ordered the record. When it arrived, I heard Vin Scully as if I were listening live on the radio. What a thrill to relive the moment over and over again. Three years later, a 33 1/3 LP of Don Drysdale’s scoreless inning streak was produced, highlighting each of the big right-hander’s shutouts on his way to the record. More Scully and more inside exposure to the Dodgers to measure up with my Cub and Cardinal fan friends.

Fifty years later, with a subscription to MLB.TV, I now can watch the Dodgers and hear Vin almost nightly throughout the season. It’s wonderful, but there was something about having to work at being a Dodgers fan from afar and only getting a taste of Scully that will always remain magical.

Jeff Fritzen

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Holding it for a good cause

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I am a Northern California boy, a San Francisco Giants fan despite a UCLA education and a Santa Monica residence. I remember listening to a Giants-Dodgers game on the radio while driving down the great San Joaquin Valley, coming home from my mom’s house in Davis. The game was tense as I passed Bakersfield and Grapevine, and Vin Scully was really painting a picture with his description of the action. Anyhow, I made it to Santa Monica, and the game was still going. I didn’t have an AM radio in the house and this was long before iPhones and streaming were invented, so the only way for me to hear the end of the game was to stay in the car. This was not an easy decision to make as I’d needed a bathroom since Sylmar! Scully’s call of the game was ultimately too much to resist: I stayed in the car and listened. I don’t remember how the game ended, only that I was in great physical discomfort for the last bit of it. 

And it was totally worth it.

Christian Boyce

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Thanks for treating my mom like a queen

Shortly after my father passed away in 1994, I thought taking my mom to a Dodger game would lift her spirits. We were walking on the Club level behind the press box on our way to the public restaurant down by the Dodger Club. Who opens the door of the press box but the man himself, Vin Scully. As he is very recognizable, my mom calls out “Hi Vinny.” He turns around and sees this older lady hobbling over. He says “Wait, I’m coming.” I hang back and watch. He asked her name and she says “Marge. My son over there brought me to the game to try and lift my spirits. I just lost my husband.” He said he was sorry for our loss. He took her arm and walked with her very slowly to the restaurant, while I trailed behind them with tears in my eyes. He asked her who her favorite player was and she replied “Bob Feller.” After all she was from Cleveland. We walked in and Vin said to the chef, “Whatever they want for dinner, on me.” We said thank you, thank you and he continued on to the Club. He did the nicest thing I could imagine for her and I will never forget.

Warren Boule

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Sharing a moment after a tough loss

I spent days and nights two years ago pouring my heart out on paper trying to pare down a letter to Vin to just a few paragraphs in order to say, “Thanks."  We all thought that year would be his last.  What I received in return was an impersonal form letter stating the he simply receives too many letters and mine could not be delivered.  I was so upset and bewildered that a true fan could be treated this way, but I had to be realistic and understand that our lives are full of disappointments just like that one. 

Speaking of disappointments, you’d have to go back to the year 1976.  The Dodgers were in a heated pennant race with The Big Red Machine.  My friends and I were seated along the first row of field boxes just beyond the Dodger dugout.  With the team trailing by a run in the ninth inning, they somehow loaded the bases with no outs.  However, they eventually failed to score the tying run and lost.  

I was so animated and distraught in my seat, hands on head, jumping up and down when I twirled around and looked up to Vinny’s booth.  Surprisingly, he was looking right at me as I shook my head.  At that point, he held out his arms to the sides, shrugged his shoulders as if to say, “What are you gonna do?"  

I needed to be consoled in a big way, and who better to accomplish that than Mr. Vin Scully himself?  I’ll always remember his uncanny way of connecting to fans through his voice, stories, and unbridled passion for the game we all share.

Gary J. Saldutti

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An Ode to Vin

Oh Scully, oh Scully just where will you be

When seventeen comes and we tune in to see

And hear you weave yarns of days that have passed

I just can’t believe you are leaving at last

 

Just stay one more year to tell us stories

Of Sutton and Drysdale and Robinson please

And of Pee Wee, the Duke and Campy and John

Sixty-seven short years and poof you are gone

 

I knew it the first time that I heard your voice

The Dodgers were gonna be my only choice

I’m all grown up now, but you bring out the boy

Describing the heartbreak, celebrations and joy.

 

So please Uncle Vinny, tell us some more

Just tell us who’s batting, just tell us the score!

Tell us of Maury Wills’ 90 foot dash

Or of Gibson’s historical World Series smash.

Or of Finley’s walk off on the Giants that day

Just tell us you’re kidding, just tell us you’ll stay

 

I’ll sit on your lap and I’ll listen real good

To tales of Piazza smashing with wood

Or Hershiser’s magical eighty-eight run

Or of all of the pennants and trophies we’ve won

 

Just share with us one more magical day

All that is Garvey, Lopes, Russell and Cey

Just tell us of Marshall and Gagne the king

And Monday up north in quest of a ring.

 

Just tell of Fernando’s one no-hit night

Or the four straight home runs before Nomar took flight

Tell us of squeeze plays and flares in the sky

Tell of the “wild horse” some thought could fly

 

Just a little bit longer, just a little bit more

Please tell us of Alston and Tommy for sure

And though you’re the greatest southpaw that we’ve had

Tell of Koufax the great and Kershaw the lad

 

And maybe a bit of Shawn Green pounding four

Or rookies both present and past we adore

Tell of Guerrero’s homerun setting June

Or tell us of Welch and his October boon

 

I know that all things must come to an end

But I suddenly feel like I’m losing a friend

The boy just can’t help it, he’s starting to cry

While the grown-up lets out a resolute sigh

 

So God speed dear Scully from one and from all

Come seventeen we will be missing your call

From Blue Heaven on Earth perched way up above

I’ll still be right here with transistor and glove

Kevin Mahoney

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A glimpse into his character

I became a fan of the Dodgers in 1968 at the age of eight.  My parents were recently divorced at the time, and Vin became a surrogate father of sorts every night as I listened to the play by play of my favorite Dodgers, Maury Wills, Wes Parker, Claude Osteen and Willie Davis.

Because of Vin’s endearing voice and commercials, I ate Farmer John hot dogs and when I became older, I made sure my first credit card was for Union 76.  Of course, I had to sport the small, orange-colored 76 antenna ball on my first car.

I finally had the opportunity to meet Vin Scully when I attended a night game at Dodger Stadium around 1993. Immediately after the game was over, I made my way up to the “Press Box Level” and patiently waited for him to enter the elevator. As he approached me, he saw me and I finally had the long, anticipated opportunity to express my thanks to Mr. Scully for his place in my childhood and baseball life. It was emotional for me as he was larger than life to me. Vin Scully is the Dodgers!  

As we finished our very brief encounter, I noticed the elevator was filled with about eight or nine women who worked at the stadium and they were holding the door open for Vin.  He graciously greeted every one of them by name and went to the very back of the elevator.  

As the door closed, I was given another glimpse of the man, Vin Scully.  That night, he taught me to treat everyone, no matter what their station in life or gender, with respect.

I know this: Vin Scully’s legacy will live forever in the hearts of those touched by him.

Jeff Jones

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The best sound to fall asleep to

By way of background and context, I am a native Angeleno and lifelong Dodger fan, born downtown at Third and Alvarado, raised and schooled in the San Fernando Valley.  I moved to the Midwest for a career in the early ‘80s. Six or seven years ago I was visiting L.A. with my then-teenage daughter. We were attending Mass in the Valley and were a bit early. As we pulled into the lot to park, the prior service was just ending. When I saw a man walking across the lot, I exclaimed, “THAT’S VIN SCULLY!" I hastily parked, got out, and walked up to him before he could reach his vehicle, asking if I could take my daughter’s picture with him. He said, “of course,” but my daughter insisted that I should pose with Vin instead. After the shot, I informed him that as a little boy I would fall asleep at night to his voice coming from the prized transistor radio under my pillow! Without missing a beat, ever-humble Vinny replied, “I tend to have that effect on a lot of people!”  

Sometimes I realize I haven’t changed much through the years. Now, while following the boys on MLB, I often relive my youth by falling asleep to the sound of Vin’s voice coming from the iPad sitting beside my bed! Whatever shall I do next year? Like so many others, I will be disconsolate when the voice reaching my ear is no longer his. I am grateful for learning the game from the very best, and for the wealth of memories he has provided.

Jim Tomkovicz

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He got me through a terrible time

What does Vin Scully mean to me? Simply put he was my refuge, my comfort. As a child growing up in a home that was broken by mental illness, there were many fearful nights. I cannot count the number of times my sister and I were in the same room fearful of what we heard beyond the door. As I would lay there, I would turn on the transistor radio to drown out the yelling and listen to the baseball game. I loved baseball and I loved the Dodgers. To a young boy growing up in East Los Angeles the Dodgers were all my idols.

Out of that radio I would hear a calming voice describe the game. The voice would take my thoughts far away from my fear, taking me to a place where my imagination and dreams could overcome. With every descriptive word I heard I could believe that it was me out there making that play with Maury or Jim or Wes or Ron or Tommy or Willie or Lou or Don or Sandy. I felt I was no longer in this fearful place but rather in a place where I was safe and doing what I loved. In listening to the voice I could feel that I was far away and yet right there. I could let my imagination go and dream that maybe one of my idols would take me away from this fearful place and be my Dad for after all I know them all so personally through that voice. Somehow as the game would progress all of the bad around me became nonexistent and a small boy could fall asleep and dream of good things.

Through all of my childhood that voice was always with me. I practiced to mimic that voice. I would pretend I was that voice while calling out loud play by play as I played baseball with my friends. I would try to call the game the same way as that calming voice would. My friends would even tell me I should become a baseball announcer.

Through the World Series championships that I was fortunate enough to experience my idols win while being a kid, it was always the voice that made it real. That voice has called Dodger games longer than I have lived. I will miss that voice dearly for I know no other as I do that voice. No other voice could ever have the meaning which that voice had. No other voice could take away the fears of that scared little boy the way that voice did. Without that voice I do not know what that little boy would have done. So you ask what does Vin Scully mean to me, everything! Thank you, Mr. Scully, from that scared little boy then to this person who I am now.

John A Congestio

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A very special Christmas

Two days before Christmas 1997, my business partner told me he had an early Christmas present for me. It was to be a surprise – and I had to get in a truck and go with his brother to the “surprise” somewhere north of us in L.A. Being curious and since it was slow because of the season, I got in the truck with his brother, who was a VersaClimber sales rep. My surprise was we were going to install a VersaClimber at Vin Scully’s house!

I had the good fortune that Vin was home. I was told Vin had purchased the machine for his wife and asked that Cary come and install it in his home. Cary knew my love of the Dodgers and decided for this install,  he needed a “helper.”  Lucky me!

I remember both Vin and his wife were delightful.  Both were as down to earth and easy to talk to as talking to your longtime next door neighbor.  The Scullys make you feel in person the same as Vin makes you feel when you listen on the radio — like you have known each other forever.  Vin put Cary to work on the Climber, and showed me around their beautiful home.  My favorite takeaway was something I saw in Vin’s trophy room. He did not call it such, but there was a room that was filled with memorabilia — trophies, awards and photo after photo of Vin with famous athletes, stars, politicians — absolutely unbelievable.  My favorite was a photo of Vin Scully standing with a familiar man in a golf tee box, both holding drivers in their gloved hands.  What really caught my attention was that the photo was not posed like most of the others — in this one, both men were standing there but looking straight up in the sky. The signature was what made it my favorite memory of that wonderful day: “Vin, they are still looking for your ball! — signed George H.W. Bush.” In explanation, Vin told me a Secret Service man had snapped the photo of them just as Air Force One flew over.  The story was as simple and enjoyable as the thousands of anecdotes I have heard him share with us over the years — pure Vin Scully.

Mike McCoy

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A great day ‘fore’ a game

I met Vin Scully once, while a friend and I walked an empty cart path during the old Bob Hope Desert Classic golf tournament.  “Hey,” my friend said to me as he looked ahead. “Behind that tree. That’s Vin Scully!” As we approached we called out, “Hi Vin.” “How ya doing fellas?” Vin responded. Honestly, how else would Vin Scully respond? He was standing just about where a rocketing drive might start to decelerate down the fairway, or where a slice might scream into the rough. It was the same conversation he’d probably had a million times over the years.

“We love listening to you call games.”

“Well, thanks.”

“Great day isn’t it?”

“Beautiful, couldn’t be better.”

Then the conversation subtly shifted gears. “Heads up,” he quietly cautioned. “Amateur.”

That’s why Vin was behind the tree. He had staked out a vantage point from which he could safely watch tee shots by pros and by amateurs. We jumped in behind him and shared the tree until the group finished teeing off. No damage, no ducking.

“Well, fellas, I gotta get going. Enjoy the rest of the day.” Like he’d known us for years. 

“You too, Vin.” That brief encounter confirmed every nice-guy story about Vin I’d ever heard before ... and since.

Ray Smith

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Keeping a soldier entertained

I am an old-timer, started following the Dodgers and Vin’s voice in 1947, when Jackie Robinson came up.  I have lived in several places since then, and Vin’s voice was not always available.  Sometimes I could barely hear it as it faded in and out through the static. While stationed in Fort Lewis, Wash., in the early 60s, I found that by removing the back of my small portable radio and attaching a copper wire to the antenna, and then stringing it out of an upper-story window of the barracks and attaching it to the top of the chimney, I could hear his voice quite clearly.  I installed it at night and the roof was quite steep, so I had to be very careful.  I listened to him in the latrine to keep from bothering the non-Dodger fans.  The sound of his voice was wonderful, and still is.

Frank W. Knell

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He eased the pain of chemo and leukemia

I grew up a Dodger fan from birth.  My mom used to listen on the radio when they were in Brooklyn.  So baseball and the Dodgers have always been a way of life for me.  In 2007, I was diagnosed with leukemia.  I was at USC Norris Cancer Hospital for days and months at a time.  I had so much chemo that it was hard to concentrate on anything, it does that to you.  But every night I would watch the Dodgers and listen to Vin.  It was the only thing I could actually concentrate on.  It was so comforting to hear his voice in the midst of the chaos my life was at the time.  I was a wife and mom of three small children, it was a very difficult time.  But my constant was Vin, listening to him was so soothing to my tired soul. Well, I had a bone marrow transplant and I am cured.  So thank you to Vin, for talking me through one of the most difficult times of my life.  And thank you to you for letting me share how much Vin Scully means to me!

Dolores Anguiano-Torres

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Vin Scully stole my Christmas tree

When I was about 7 (oh, we’re talking 50-plus years ago), I was the classic transistor-under-the-pillow guy who was supposed to be asleep each night by 10. But Vinny was on the air, so there was no rest to be had. The Voice was fed to my brain constantly, to where it was right behind my parents’ in importance. But one night, it crept ahead in that race.

It was December. My mom took a few siblings and me to a Christmas tree lot in West L.A. We hunted all over the lot for the right tree, and we eventually arrived at exactly the best one. Mom told me, “Wait right here while I go get the guy to sell us the tree. Don’t move. Stay with that tree.” And triumphantly she and my brothers marched off. I was, of course, quite proud of the immense honor bestowed on me: Guardian of Dead Tree.

A minute or two into my shift, I heard The Voice from the forest. “Oh, that’s a mahhhhhrrrvelous tree! Ho, what a great tree!” And The Voice — suddenly attached to a red-haired man I didn’t recognize — appeared with his tribe. They grabbed the tree and walked away with it. 

Naturally, Mom and sibs returned and were horrified that I had so spectacularly failed in my assignment. “Who—? What—? Where did it go?!”

“I think Vin Scully took it.” I recall being scolded for creating such an incredible fib, but I don’t think I got spanked. Yet, even if I did, I was delighted that The Voice got such a marvelous tree.

Howard Fischer

houston.mitchell@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimeshouston


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