Vin Scully used to take Saturdays off from the Dodgers. This was the 1980s, when Scully was the voice of NBC's Game of the Week.
When Scully skipped a game to attend a family wedding, an NBC executive asked Jon Miller to fill in. Miller, a talented broadcaster in his own right, also can do a spot-on imitation of Scully.
"You're the perfect guy," the executive told Miller. "Just do Vinny, and nobody will even know he's off."
Miller, the voice of the San Francisco Giants, laughed as he told the story at the World Series. Miller was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010, but he yields to no one in his admiration for Scully.
"The best there ever was," Miller said.
Scully turns 87 next month. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982. He decides whether to return or retire each year. He will return in 2015.
What the Dodgers ought to consider, Miller said, is hiring a young announcer to join the Dodgers' broadcast team, just as Red Barber picked Scully as his protege in 1950 and worked alongside him for four years.
"If they could have a young guy there with Vinny — and he's got Vinny's imprimatur — he could be anointed by Vinny, just as Vinny was anointed by Red Barber.
"When Red Barber left the Dodgers and went to the Yankees, Vinny was ready to go. And that could not have been an easy thing, because Red Barber was extraordinarily popular with Dodger fans. And his voice said Dodger baseball at that time. People may not appreciate how difficult that was for Vinny. But he was so good at it. That was the key."
Miller noted how the Giants' youngest broadcaster, 38-year-old Dave Flemming, calls his partners out when they cite pop culture references such as the 1960s television show "Bonanza."
"We don't want to just talk to people our age," said Miller, 61. "You want somebody who will be fresh, who has that grasp of the language. So you would want certain things Vinny has. But at the same time, you would want somebody who understands Twitter and Facebook and social media, who is conversant in all of that, who can speak to the people of today."
Miller acknowledged that finding and grooming a successor for Scully is a job no one wants.
"I don't know how exactly you do it," Miller said. "I'm sure the Dodgers are hoping, like the rest of us, that Vinny is still doing it 25 years from now. I'm sure that is what we would all choose."
Capping a tribute
Kansas City pitcher Yordano Ventura donated his cap to the Hall of Fame. Before the game, he had written on it "RIP O.T. #18," in memory of Oscar Taveras, the St. Louis Cardinals outfielder who died in a car crash Sunday.
"This game was dedicated to Oscar Taveras, my good friend," Ventura said. "It's a little emotional for us."
A moment of silence was held for Taveras before the game. Then, on the day his friend was buried in the Dominican Republic, Ventura pitched seven shutout innings — in an elimination game, in the World Series.
"Awesome," Royals Manager Ned Yost said. "I don't really know what more to say. You've got a 23-year-old kid pitching the biggest game this stadium has seen in 29 years, with our backs against the wall, and he goes out there in complete command of his emotions, with great stuff."
If Taveras still were alive, Ventura said he would have called him Tuesday, to share the moment.
"Oscar would be very happy for me, and very proud," Ventura said. "Oscar was a very humble guy, very likable, and I'm going to miss him a lot. I'm grieving. This is hard for me."