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Vin Scully wins reader vote as biggest icon in L.A. sports history

Vin Scully
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Vin Scully was the voice of the Dodgers for several generations, and Times readers have recognized it by voting him as the biggest icon in the history of L.A. sports.

The Times held a monthlong March Madness-style tournament in which 128 entrants were divided and seeded into four 32-person regionals (baseball, basketball, football and wild card). Scully, who easily won the baseball regional, defeated the legendary Rams’ defensive unit of the late 1960s, the Fearsome Foursome, in the final four. That left him to face Lakers great Magic Johnson in the final after Johnson defeated Jackie Robinson in the other final four matchup.

Scully defeated Johnson 62.1%-37.9%. More than 45,000 votes were cast for the final.

Scully joined the Dodgers in 1950, working alongside Radio Hall of Famer and baseball legend Red Barber. In 1976, Dodgers fans voted Scully the “most memorable personality” in Los Angeles Dodgers history.

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When the Dodgers moved to L.A. in 1958, they played at the Coliseum, which wasn’t designed for baseball and had some poor sight lines for the fans. Because some fans had such difficulty following the action there, and others had never watched much baseball, they began bringing transistor radios to games and listening to Scully while they were watching.

Scully was inducted into the broadcasters’ wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982 and retired after the 2016 season, ending a 67-season career. If Joe Davis, who essentially succeeded Scully, remains with the Dodgers as long as Scully did, Davis’ last season with the team would be 2083.

The plane lands at Los Angeles International Airport, the shuttle stops at your car, the long trip is over, but everything feels a little strange until you turn on the radio and hear the voice that wraps you in a welcome.

Some of Scully’s most memorable calls and quotes:

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“All year long they looked to him [Kirk Gibson] to light the fire and all year long he answered the demands. High fly ball into right field. She is gone! [pause] In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened.”

“Sometimes it seems like he’s playing underwater.” — on Bobby Bonilla

“There’s a high bouncer over the mound, over second base, Mantilla’s up with it, throws low and wild ... Hodges scores, we go to Chicago! [crowd noise for a nice long while] The Cinderella team [1959 Los Angeles Dodgers] of the National League.”

“There’s a little roller up along first, behind the bag! It gets through Buckner! Here comes Knight and the Mets win it!” — 1986 World Series

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“When he runs, it’s all downhill.” — on Maury Wills

Andre Dawson has a bruised knee and is listed as day-to-day. [pause] Aren’t we all?”

“He pitches as though he’s double-parked.” — on Bob Gibson

“He’s like a tailor; a little off here, a little off there and you’re done, take a seat.” — on Tom Glavine

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“I would come home to listen to a football game — there weren’t other sports on — and I would get a pillow and I would crawl under the radio, so that the loudspeaker and the roar of the crowd would wash all over me, and I would just get goosebumps like you can’t believe. And I knew that of all the things in this world that I wanted, I wanted to be that fella saying, whatever, home run, or touchdown. It just really got to me.”

Roberto Clemente could field the ball in New York and throw out a guy in Pittsburgh.”

His final words as a Dodgers broadcaster:

“You know, friends, so many people have wished me congratulations on a 67-year career in baseball, and they’ve wished me a wonderful retirement with my family, and now, all I can do is tell you what I wish for you. May God give you, for every storm, a rainbow; for every tear, a smile; for every care, a promise; and a blessing in each trial. For every problem life seems, a faithful friend to share; for every sigh, a sweet song, and an answer for each prayer. You and I have been friends for a long time, but I know, in my heart, I’ve always needed you more than you’ve ever needed me, and I’ll miss our time together more than I can say. But, you know what, there will be a new day, and, eventually, a new year, and when the upcoming winter gives way to spring, ooh, rest assured, once again, it will be time for Dodger baseball. So, this is Vin Scully wishing you a pleasant good afternoon, wherever you may be.”


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