Latin Biz Today’s Dave Torromeo chats with broadcaster, Rob Adams our mini tribute to the legend!
Editor’s note: Blog authored by Rob Adams, Professional Sportscaster and Writer
I knew this day was coming.
Heck, I knew it a few weeks back at the All-Star Game. It was obvious. The silence was too deafening.
Much like they do in news, writing obituaries before a celebrity has passed, I had considered pre-recording an episode of “Doubleheader” to prepare for this day.
We’ve lost, simply, the greatest to ever do it.
Vincent Edward Scully has died at the age of 94.
More of Rob’s blog below…Enjoy the video!
Rob’s blog continued…
It was just yesterday that I was talking about him. Oh, come on, I talked about him every day. Greatness permeates in that way. I was teaching my students at Connecticut School of Broadcasting about his brilliance.
“Listen to that crowd noise,” I told them, talking about Al Michaels’s “Miracle” call of the 1980 Olympics. “Al was a disciple of Vin Scully.”
And then all I could do was play Kirk Gibson’s 1988 World Series home run.
“High fly ball into right field,” Scully intoned in that sing-song way of his. “She is…GONE!”
Then? He said nothing.
The roar of the crowd filled the air. That roar that he learned to love while sitting under the giant radio in his family’s Washington Heights apartment in New York.
He loved that crowd noise. He let Harry Coyle’s incredible direction take care as Gibson rounded the bases. The shots of the Dodger Stadium bedlam. Even the brake lights of the car driving out of the parking lot.
The bewildered look on the faces of the Oakland Athletics players who had just lost.
And then, the poet — born in the Bronx, raised in Manhattan — spoke:
“In a year that has been so improbable, the IMPOSSIBLE has happened.”
Perfect. That was Vin.
Oh, perfection. That was part of the story.
Twenty-seven up. Twenty-seven down.
That was Sandy Koufax.
But that was Vin, who had the smarts to have his engineer start recording the ninth inning of a ballgame on Sept 9, 1965.
Dodgers 1, Cubs 0.
And Koufax, in his “spine-tingling moment” was working on his fourth no-hitter. Except now it had been 24 consecutive batters retired.
Three to go.
And, again, there was poetry.
Vin reset by giving the defense. Then, he gave the attendance.
“And there’s 29,000 people in the ballpark and a million butterflies.” He took a beat. “Twenty-nine thousand, one hundred and thirty-nine paid.”
I’ve spoken so many words about this night. A night that was only on radio. Only a few still photos exist. No TV. A night in which Scully asked for the recording to be able to give it to Koufax should Sandy complete the perfect game.
That’s why he gave the time throughout.
“It’s 9:46 p.m. Two and two to Harvey Kuenn. One strike away. Sandy into his windup. Here’s the pitch.”
Koufax delivered immortality.
“Swung on and missed a perfect game!”
As with Gibson, that was about as high as Scully would go in his register. He didn’t need to scream. He didn’t need to break out some witty pop culture reference. He didn’t need to exaggerate.
He needed to report. Inform. Elaborate. And, perhaps, entertain.
But in this moment, nothing further was needed. Koufax was perfect.
So was Vin.
Literally, every student of mine has had to listen to those eight minutes and thirty-four seconds.
To understand that’s how you do it.
He understood the majesty and magnitude of every moment.
Three versions of Hank Aaron’s 715th home run exist. Milo Hamilton — who had it written in his contract that he had to be on mic for Aaron’s record-breaking shot — on the Braves broadcast. Curt Gowdy, there doing TV with NBC on the national broadcast.
And Vin, on the Dodgers radio network.
Vin, of course, schooled them all.
Not forgotten in the fuss of the moment was how Vin reminded listeners that Aaron was the tying run in the game. The game. Always remember the game.
Al Downing, pitching for the Dodgers, delivered a low pitch and the crowd booed.
“Al has to ignore the sound effects,” Vin said. “And stay a professional and pitch his game.”
Who has the presence of mind to say such a thing?
“One ball and no strikes. Aaron waiting. The outfield deep and straight away. Fastball…”
“Ther’s a high drive into deep left center field. Buckner goes back…to the fence…it is gone.”
He’s just called — arguably — the most important home run in history. Certainly the most important socially. And yet? Instead of yelling and making it about him, he actually changed his tenor.
Almost as if he wanted to just disappear along with the ball, recognizing the moment wasn’t about him.
In fact, he did disappear, going a getting a drink of water.
“What a marvelous moment for baseball. What a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia. What a marvelous moment for the country and the world. A black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol. And it is a great moment for all of us, and particularly for Henry Aaron, who was met at home plate, not only by every member of the Braves, but by his father and mother.”
Nobody else — not Hamilton nor Gowdy — had that presence.
GOAT. We simply overuse that term.
But Susan had never heard it before. I used it to her talking about — who else? — Scully.
He’s “The GOAT,” I said.
I’m sure, somewhere, she wondered what that meant. Was that some kind of broadcasting term? Do broadcasters make noises like a goat?
“Oh, sorry. ‘Greatest of All Time.'”
She got it. Why?
My phone and social media have buzzed all night.
It was best that I didn’t know.
Yet, I couldn’t sleep for some reason.
And I wouldn’t have slept at all had I learned, with the news breaking literally just after I went to sleep.
Of course, I had posted a random Vin call just last night.
White Sox/Yankees, 8/2/85 at Yankee Stadium. Carlton Fisk tagged two players out within seconds on the same play.
But that’s not what I wanted to post. Instead, I posted a Dave Winfield 10th-inning home run that tied this wacky game.
Why? The mellifluous call.
“High drive into deep left field. Back goes Nichols. Gone!”
Then? what else?
It’s obvious that this is my hero. Hero as in my dad. My mom. Athletes. Other “voices.”
He could never be “Mr. Scully.” He wouldn’t allow it.
He was Vin.
This is a deep loss.
This is one of the few interviews I would have ever cared about doing and it was never meant to be.
So these thoughts are the first things that have come to my mind after learning the news and moving to the living room to watch some of the MLB Network coverage.
I’m simply overwhelmed.
He did football. Tennis. Golf. He hosted the Rose Bowl Parade. He had a talk show. He had a game show.
He called more no-hitters and perfect games than anyone and he’s why I tell every broadcaster to spurn the notion of superstitions. A no-hitter is going on. It’s our job to report it.
We’re journalists. We’re not the game. We’re the conduit.
This is what he learned from Red Barber, the father figure who brought him to Brooklyn and molded him.
While I never met him, I had a sense of him.
I can’t say I knew him but it felt like I did.
And so, I say this with full confidence:
He’d hate this attention. But, he earned it, just as he did upon his retirement in 2016.
If I may, his retirement was like losing a friend. I watched and listened and got people who’d never watch and listen to such a thing, to join in.
We’ll be talking about him forever, despite his notion that he’d just fade away.
We have the audio. At least, as much as we can. Sadly, his debut and how he closed the 1955 World Series are lost forever.
But we have the rest of it. The Dwight Clark “catch.” The Don Larsen perfect game. The Rick Monday save of the American flag. The “little roller up along first.” The moments from the LA Coliseum, when he taught Southern California about baseball.
Oh, that last part seems like an exaggeration (something he hated) but it’s a fact. A further fact? He’s the greatest sports hero in the history of Los Angeles.
In every hall of fame, though I suppose Canton would be wise to recognize him for his football work.
I’ve sat here and rambled through these thoughts off the top of my brain.
I will finish simply with this.
I never had a mentor in broadcasting, though I’ve tried to be that for many.
Vin Scully, the plucky kid from Washington Heights who dazzled Brooklyn and became a cultural institution a coast away. The greatest sports broadcaster ever. A man of words and simplicity.
He was my mentor.
I finish, sad. Devastated.
“I would imagine the mound at Dodger Stadium is the loneliest place in the world,” he said during Koufax’s 1965 magnificence.
Vin, that might not be true.
Today, every broadcast booth is the loneliest place in the world.
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