Column: ‘Mr. Scully’ had a playful side that helped a young sportswriter feel important

Legendary Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully sits in the booth at Camelback Ranch Glendale, Ariz.
Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully sits in the booth at Camelback Ranch in Phoenix during a spring training game on March 25, 2016.
(Tom Tingle / Associated Press)

Sharing my favorite story about Vin Scully requires me to make a confession: When I was traveling around the country in my mid- to late-20s as the Dodgers beat writer for this newspaper, I liked to go out.

Almost every night on the road was a party, and more than once I showed up to the ballpark the next day in some degree of physical discomfort.

I had one particularly painful experience in Colorado. I was severely hungover, some colleagues teasing me while others were offended that I would show up to work in that condition. With my head pounding and my eyes feeling as if they had knives stuck in them, I didn’t want to hear any of it.

I was in the media dining room at Coors Field with a tray of untouched food when Scully sat down in front of me.

Vin Scully, voice of the Dodgers for more than six decades, died Tuesday

Aug. 2, 2022


He took one look at me, smiled mischievously and asked, “Mr. Hernandez, were you overserved last night?”

I laughed, and for a few seconds forgot about how much I hurt.

Vin Scully died on Tuesday at 94. Countless words have been written about how he was a one-of-a-kind broadcaster, how he was kind and gracious. All of that was true. But when I think of him, what comes to mind is his sense of humor.

The first time I spoke to him was in 2007 shortly after The Times hired me to cover the Dodgers. I ran into him in the bathroom of the press box bearing his name. While I thought it would be weird to introduce myself to him there, it occurred to me that it might be weirder to not.

When I told him who I was, he said he had heard of me and started doing that Vin Scully thing where he narrated the details of a person’s life.

“You were born in Los Angeles,” he said. “Your father is from El Salvador; your mother is from Japan. I speak a few words of Japanese myself: Konnichiwa. …”


He went on and on like this. The voice I used to hear on my transistor radio was talking to me, about me. I would have been intimidated if not for his warmth. He insisted that I called him “Vin” instead of “Mr. Scully.”

But, as Scully mentioned, I’m part Salvadoran, which means that when someone tells me to do something, I’m genetically predisposed to want to mess with him or her by doing the exact opposite.

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So, the next time I saw him, I again called him, “Mr. Scully.”

“Dylan,” he sighed, “I told you to call me Vin.”

The time after that: “Mr. Scully.”

“Dylan …”

And the time after that: “Mr. Scully.”

“Dylan, you really have to stop that,” he said.

“Mr. Scully, I couldn’t call you by your first name,” I said with a smile. “My father would kill me.”

“But he’s not here, is he?” Scully replied.

“It’s like a trauma thing,” I said. “My dad is pretty old school. When I even think of calling you by your first name, I can feel my father’s hand about to slap me in the back of the head.”

A look back at the life of prolific Dodgers announcer Vin Scully, who worked 67 seasons in the broadcast booth for the team before retiring in 2016.

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(My father didn’t actually hit me as a child. He still reads the newspaper and I figured I should clarify that to keep him from hitting me for real.)

Scully chuckled. He knew I was jerking his chain.

“I see,” he said. “So that’s how it’s going to be, is it?”

The next time we saw each other, I greeted him the same way: “Mr. Scully!”

With that mischievous grin that later became familiar to me, he replied sarcastically, “Mr. Hernandez!”

We both laughed.

The exchange became a routine for us.

“Mr. Scully!”

“Mr. Hernandez!”

We kept on like this until he retired.

Scully had a way of making the little people feel important — and compared with him, all of us in the press box were little people.

Even in the final decade of his career, he was considerably better at his job than any of us were at ours, the extent of which I was made painfully aware when I listened to his live broadcast while covering a game on press row. Here I was, carefully crafting sentences, and none of them were anywhere near as good as the stuff he was saying off the top of his head. I didn’t make that mistake again.

We asked for your memories of legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully and received hundreds of responses. Here is what some readers had to say:

Aug. 5, 2022

Scully really was a poet. I wrote this once before, but who else could make something as disgusting as a Dodger Dog sound delicious? I’m convinced the Dodger Dog owes its popularity entirely to Scully, but that’s another column for another day.

He was smarter than any of us, evidenced by how he avoided getting into any hot water over his 67-year career. This wasn’t an accident. Tap dancing around landmines requires knowledge of where the landmines are.

But he didn’t hold his obvious superiority over us. If anything, he went out of his way to make us feel as if he were one of us.

The television and radio broadcasters used to have their own dining room within the dining room at Dodger Stadium, but Scully always dropped by the table where the writers sat. He told us stories. He recommended books. He made us laugh. He always made us laugh.

Years have passed since those dining room conversations. As I have grown older, I have come to realize he wasn’t being humored by me as much as he was humoring me. And whatever playful reasons I had for refusing to call him by his first name, I’m glad I never did. To me, he was, and always will be, Mr. Scully.

Legendary Dodgers announcer Vin Scully died Tuesday at age 94. Here’s some of what our staff has written about him now and throughout his celebrated life.

Aug. 2, 2022