Greatest moments in Dodger history No. 9: Vin Scully’s final game at Dodger Stadium
Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and the greatest moment countdown continues
I’m assuming everyone knows how this works by now, so I’m going to drop the explanatory introduction to these. If you need a reminder, click on any of the Nos. 20-25 greatest moments below.
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No. 9: Vin Scully’s final game at Dodger Stadium (202 first-place votes, 13,656 points)
“I’ve always felt that I needed you much more than you needed me. And that holds true to this very day.” That’s how Vin Scully began the broadcast of his final game at Dodger Stadium in 2016.
Scully broadcast Dodger games for 67 years. To give an example of how long that really is, if current broadcaster Joe Davis stays for 67 years, his final game will be in 2083.
His final Dodger Stadium game ended with a Charlie Culberson walkoff homer.
Pedro Moura was at the game for The Times, and focused on Scully:
Late Saturday night, after the Dodgers routed Colorado and made their Sunday clinch of their fourth consecutive division title a near formality, Justin Turner and Adrian Gonzalez exchanged text messages. What could they do to honor the retiring Vin Scully during the last of more than 4,000 games the man described at Dodger Stadium?
In their pregame hitters meeting, they suggested tipping their caps to him as they each approached the batter’s box. Their teammates agreed, and all did so. Scully did not notice until the second inning, then stood and waved down to each man.
“There’s no perfect way, because he deserves way more than that,” Gonzalez said. “But that’s a little token of our appreciation to him.”
Said Turner: “We just wanted to make sure he knew how special he is to us.”
When Scully went on the air at 1 p.m., he told viewers that “You and I have really grown up together, through the good times and the bad.”
He asked whether they remembered when he mentioned it was an umpire’s birthday and the entire Coliseum began to sing. He wondered if he had put any of them to sleep with radios tucked under their pillows. And then he broadcast the 3-hour 33-minute game that culminated in the clinching, 10th-inning home run from little-known, little-used infielder Charlie Culberson.
“O and 1 to Charlie,” Scully began. “Swung on and a high drive to deep left field, the Dodger bench empties. Would you believe a home run? And the Dodgers clinch the division and will celebrate on schedule.”
He remained silent for the next 24 seconds.
“Leave it to the Dodgers,” Scully resumed. “Charlie Culberson, a game-winning home run. What a moment to have it, and, would you believe, his first home run of the year.”
“It was one of those things where, for him, I don’t think the baseball gods were going to let us lose today,” said Corey Seager, who sent the game into extra innings with a ninth-inning home run. “It’s better to have a game end too late than too early.”
Turner, a Southland native, said he could not wait to get home and hear the call.
“I don’t know if Charlie knows how special it is,” Turner said, “that for the rest of his life, he’s going to get to hear Vin broadcasting his walk-off homer in his last game at Dodger Stadium.”
After the first of the alcohol was showered on the field, the players tipped their caps up to him again. Scully motioned a hug down. Dave Roberts reciprocated as he reintroduced the man to the fans.
“Vin, we love you,” Roberts said. “This is for you, my friend.”
Taking the microphone, Scully said he was “terribly embarrassed” at the way the game unfolded. He said he hoped there would be a blowout and no attention on him and “a nice, easy day.” But while it was not, he said, he had one thing he’d like to give the crowd, “a very, very small, modest contribution on my last day.”
“Do you mind listening?” Scully said to the crowd and the players crowded together on the field. A recording of him singing “Wind Beneath My Wings” began. His wife, Sandi, emerged. They stood together as it played, mouthing many of the words.
When it ended, security officials escorted the Scullys out of the press box, through an alternate exit. A horde of fans surrounded the path to the elevator he typically takes, hoping for one last glimpse of their hero.
They waited, waited and waited. He was already gone.
Previous greatest moments
No. 11: Dodgers move to L.A.
No. 15: Dodgers win 1981 World Series
No. 16: Roy Campanella Night
No. 17: Rick Monday’s 1981 NLCS home run
No. 18: Rick Monday saves the flag
No. 19: Winning the 1988 World Series
What a bizarre play
Cody Bellinger homered in the season opener, only he didn’t. Jorge Castillo explains:
“The Dodgers’ first home run of the 2021 season … wasn’t a home run.
“The club’s first game of the season took a bizarre turn in the third inning when Cody Bellinger lifted a fly ball to the left-field wall at Coors Field with Justin Turner at first base. Colorado Rockies left fielder Raimel Tapia nearly made the catch with a leap, but the ball went in and out of his glove and Bellinger seemingly had a two-run home run to give the Dodgers a two-run lead.
“Turner, however, thought Tapia made the catch so he raced back to first base as Bellinger jogged past him. Bellinger tried signaling to Turner that it was a home run but it was too late. Turner returned to first base, not realizing that the ball had landed over the wall.
“Bellinger was ruled out because he passed Turner on the basepaths. Turner then jogged around the bases to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead and Bellinger was officially credited with an RBI single. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts emerged to either argue the call or ask for an explanation before the inning continued.
“Beyond the confusion, Bellinger’s power display is a positive sign for the Dodgers as the center fielder returns from arthroscopic labrum surgery on his right shoulder in November.”
Did you get a chance to check out out live blog Thursday? If not, you missed out on some cool Vin Scully videos and historical data, as well as updates on the game as each half-inning expired. Also, you got an immediate update on that weird Bellinger homer/single. If you have any comments or suggestions to make the live blog better, please email me at email@example.com
and let me know your thoughts to me. In the meantime, you can always find the live blog for every game year at https://www.latimes.com/livedodgers.
Fernandomania at 40
We are inviting subscribers to the exclusive premiere of the first installment of “Fernandomania @ 40,” the Times’ multi-episode documentary series that examines star pitcher Fernando Valenzuela’s impact on the Dodgers, Major League Baseball and the Latino community in Los Angeles 40 years ago.
After a screening of the first installment Fernando at 40 at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 8, Times columnist Gustavo Arellano, deputy sports editor Iliana Limón Romero and Mexican-American baseball historian Richard Santillán will discuss the fan frenzy surrounding the humble Mexican pitcher’s record-setting rookie season and answer questions from subscribers.
To register for the event, click on this link and enter the event code fernandoat40.
Nervous about going back to Dodger Stadium?
As you know, Dodger Stadium is re-opening to fans starting with the home opener on Thursday. Are you going back to a game but nervous? Or want to go back but aren’t ready yet? We are working on a story about fans just like that and would love to talk to you. Email the reporter, Kevin Baxter at firstname.lastname@example.org and he will contact you.
Cool Dodger pins are here
When I was a kid, the two gas stations nearest to my house were Mobil stations. But, every so often, my dad would make the extra drive to a 76 station for two reasons: To get the Dodger pocket schedule, and to get the cool Dodger pins that the station gave out for a couple of years or so during baseball season.
And now, the pins are back! Pins will be available to fans from April 1-May 23, 2021. You will need to purchase fuel through the My 76 App, where you will be able to select which pin you want.
And while I don’t want this newsletter to turn into a commercial for anything, I couldn’t resist this once because I’m sure there are many of you out there, like me, who remember things like that fondly.
Vin Scully addresses the crowd at Dodger Stadium. Watch it here.
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