Column: Why is Vin Scully jumping into social media at age 92? ‘I miss the fans’
Out of nowhere, a monument fell.
One moment, Vin Scully was walking down his driveway to check on the mail. The next moment, he was lying face down on the pavement.
The unbreakable icon had collapsed, the eternal voice silenced. He awoke in the hospital with a concussion, broken nose, chipped tooth, three fractured ribs and a realization.
“It was like, ‘Hey, you’ve had a good life, but be ready pal, it’s just around the corner,’” said Scully, 92.
That was four months ago. The reasons for the fall were never determined. He hasn’t left his San Fernando Valley home since. He hasn’t even ventured back to that mailbox. His life now includes a walker, a full-time aide and a somber sense of seclusion.
“I’ve never been inclined to be a monk, but in some ways, my home has become a monastery,” he said.
Through it all, he’s really been missing the Dodgers. Four years after his emotional retirement, Scully misses the buzz of Dodger Stadium, the beauty of its surroundings, the kindness of its workers, and the thrills he shared for 67 years during the most magical run in sports broadcasting history.
More than anything, Los Angeles, he misses you.
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“I miss the fans, I really do,” he said. “I’ve always said I needed the fans more than they needed me. Some of the tragedies in my life, the fans have always helped me get through them, and I owe those fans a great deal.”
Thus the old-school baseball bard is hoping to reconnect with his city again, only this time in the most modern of ways.
Would you believe Vin Scully is going to start tweeting? You think you might want to hear him on Instagram?
“It’s time for . . . social media!”
Beginning Wednesday, Scully will engage with followers on Twitter and Instagram through the handle @TheVinScully. There are also plans for a Facebook page to be launched in October, with the potential for the creation of a Scully website and YouTube channel.
In an arrangement forged by close friend and longtime local baseball benefactor Dennis Gilbert, Scully will dictate his thoughts on everything from current Dodgers drama to memorable baseball anniversaries in posts that will include some of his most famous calls.
“I was told the fans would like to talk to me, and I said, well, that would be very nice,” Scully said.
If you’re wondering how the screaming Twitterverse will handle an icon known for his dignity and grace, you’re not the only one.
“I don’t know what I’m getting into, really,” Scully said with a laugh.
If you’re curious about the online skills of a national media legend who has never engaged in any form of social media — never used it, never followed it, never even read it — well, join the club.
“I’ll have a sign on all of my posts that reads, ‘Amateur,’ ” Scully said.
If you’re looking for hot takes, look elsewhere.
“I thought I would dip my toe into the social media pool, but I’m not looking to make waves,” he said.
For all you potential trolls, let him make himself clear.
“If I get a controversial question — a hot potato — I’m not going to go anywhere near it,” he reiterated. “I’m not going to have anything to do with any controversy of any kind, and if I find it’s too much, I’ll disappear as quickly as I came.”
So, yeah, he’s pretty much going to be the nicest person in the history of the internet.
“It’s going to be very friendly, very simple, just a very small contribution to whatever is going on,” he said. “Maybe I’ll make a comment on something from the past. Maybe somebody will write back, ‘I remember that.’ ”
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Gilbert, a former player agent who is also a Chicago White Sox executive and insurance businessman, approached Scully with the idea a couple of months ago when he noticed his friend growing wistful in the confines of the home he shares with his wife, Sandi.
“I could tell he really wanted to connect with his fans, he really missed them, and I thought this would be an easy way to do it,” Gilbert said. “He can share his thoughts, his memories, his stories. I’m so excited for him. It’s like tweeting with history.”
Scully will dictate those thoughts to a New York-based production company, which will post them, sometimes with highlights.
“Maybe it’s Henry Aaron’s birthday, and I’ll tweet out the feeling I had when he hit his home run, and they play the home run call,” Scully said. “I will be as gentle and quiet as I can be.”
He will accumulate a following that will surely grow to huge numbers. But, as always, it will probably feel like Scully is talking just to you.
“All those years, it was so much fun coming to the ballpark and seeing all those people looking up at the booth and waving to me,” Scully said. “This is my way of connecting with them again.”
He also has used his recent fall to connect with his mortality. Not only is he going to publicly clear his head of his baseball musings, but he’s also cleaning out his memorabilia room and auctioning off his most valuable souvenirs so his large family can enjoy the proceeds while he’s still alive.
More than 300 items from Scully’s collection will be sold at auction Sept. 23, memorabilia including everything from four World Series rings to letters from presidents to the scorebook used during his final 2016 season.
Scully has five children, 16 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, and he will share most of the earnings with them while he still can.
“I always thought when I get rid of all the bits and pieces of my life, I would like to make a little money and give it to my kids,” he said. “I would rather do it now when I can enjoy their joy rather than do it from the grave.”
Some of the auction proceeds also will go to UCLA for neuromuscular research, as Sandi is battling an illness related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
“Sandi is the strength of the family, the inspiration of the family, and she’s my strength as well as my love,” he said.
The same can be said of how Los Angeles feels about Vin Scully. Now in 280-character bursts, he’s the gift that keeps on giving.
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