Vin Scully, Dodgers broadcaster for 67 years, dies at 94
Vin Scully, Dodgers broadcaster for 67 years, dies at 94
LOS ANGELES — Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully, who called Dodgers games on radio and television for more than half a century and captivated generations of Southern California baseball fans after the club’s 1958 move from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, died Tuesday night, the team said. He was 94.
Scully died at his home in Hidden Hills, according to the team, which spoke to family members.
Named the No. 1 sportscaster of the 20th century by more than 500 national members of the American Sportscasters Association in 2000, Scully began announcing Dodgers games in 1950 and had the longest continuous service with one team of any major-league broadcaster.
With a mastery of the English language, a near-encyclopedic knowledge of baseball history and an unparalleled story-telling ability, Scully both educated and entertained listeners while receiving nearly every honor the broadcasting industry offers.
Voted the “most memorable personality” in Los Angeles Dodgers history by fans in 1976, Scully received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and induction into the broadcast wing of the National Baseball Hall of Fame as the recipient of the Ford Frick Award in 1982.
A four-time winner of the Outstanding Sportscaster Award from the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association, Scully was also a 21-time California Sportscaster of the Year. Inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1995, Scully received a Lifetime Achievement Sports Emmy Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences the following year.
Also a recipient of the George Foster Peabody Award for excellence in broadcasting, Scully covered 12 World Series and six Major League All-Star Games, in addition to football, golf and tennis, for CBS and NBC, but he will always be linked with the Dodgers. The team honored Scully with the dedication of the “Vin Scully Press Box” at Dodger Stadium in 2001.
Born Nov. 29, 1927, in the Bronx and raised in New York City, Scully set his sights on being a sports announcer from an early age. He spent two years in the Navy and graduated from Fordham University in 1949, having lettered for two years as a Rams outfielder before turning to broadcasting.
Scully called Fordham baseball, football and basketball games over the school’s radio station, and began his professional broadcasting career at WTOP-AM in Washington, D.C. Scully’s big break came in 1950, when legendary Dodgers announcer Red Barber and his partner, Connie Desmond, chose Scully to become the third man in the radio booth.
Duplicating Barber’s renowned work ethic, by 1954 Scully had become the Dodgers’ lead announcer. He called Brooklyn’s only World Championship the following season, and also announced Dodgers World Series victories in Los Angeles in 1959, 1963, 1965, 1981 and 1988.
From the days of Jackie Robinson and Duke Snider in Brooklyn, to the early years in Los Angeles with Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Maury Wills, Scully was at the microphone for nearly every significant moment in Dodgers history since 1950. Scully also called Don Larsen’s perfect game for the New York Yankees in the 1956 World Series and Henry Aaron’s record-breaking 715th career home run for the Atlanta Braves in 1973.
Over the course of his career, Scully worked 18 no-hitters, three of which were perfect games, including Koufax’s 1965 gem against the Chicago Cubs. Scully was there for Wills’ record-breaking 104 stolen bases in 1962, record scoreless-innings streaks by Drysdale in 1968 and Orel Hershiser 20 years later, and Kirk Gibson’s dramatic, pinch-hit home run that won Game 1 of the 1988 World Series against the Oakland A’s.
Despite having been associated with the Dodgers seemingly forever, Scully retained a solid sense of objectivity unknown to many revered announcers in the East and Midwest. He also made it a point not to get too close to Dodgers players, in order to maintain that perspective.
He opened broadcasts with the familiar greeting, “Hi, everybody, and a very pleasant good evening to you wherever you may be.”
Ever gracious both in person and on the air, Scully considered himself merely a conduit between the game and the fans.
Although he was paid by the Dodgers, Scully was unafraid to criticize a bad play or a manager’s decision, or praise an opponent while spinning stories against a backdrop of routine plays and noteworthy achievements. He always said he wanted to see things with his eyes, not his heart.
Scully was the son of a silk salesman who died of pneumonia when Scully was 7. His mother moved the family to Brooklyn, where the red-haired, blue-eyed Scully grew up playing stickball in the streets.
As a child, Scully would grab a pillow, put it under the family’s four-legged radio and lay his head directly under the speaker to hear whatever college football game was on the air. With a snack of saltine crackers and a glass of milk nearby, the boy was transfixed by the crowd’s roar that raised goosebumps. He thought he’d like to call the action himself.
At age 22, he was hired by a CBS radio affiliate in Washington, D.C. In 1953, at age 25, Scully became the youngest person to broadcast a World Series game, a mark that still stands.
He moved west with the Dodgers in 1958. Scully called three perfect games – Don Larsen in the 1956 World Series, Sandy Koufax in 1965 and Dennis Martinez in 1991 – and 18 no-hitters.
He also was on the air when Don Drysdale set his scoreless innings streak of 58-2/3 innings in 1968 and again when Hershiser broke the record with 59 consecutive scoreless innings 20 years later.
When Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run to break Babe Ruth’s record in 1974, it was against the Dodgers and, of course, Scully called it.
“A Black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol,” Scully told listeners. “What a marvelous moment for baseball.”
Scully credited the birth of the transistor radio as “the greatest single break” of his career. Fans had trouble recognizing the lesser players during the Dodgers’ first four years in the vast Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
“They were 70 or so odd rows away from the action,” he said in 2016. “They brought the radio to find out about all the other players and to see what they were trying to see down on the field.”
That habit carried over when the team moved to Dodger Stadium in 1962. Fans held radios to their ears, and those not present listened from home or the car, allowing Scully to connect generations of families with his words.
He often said it was best to describe a big play quickly and then be quiet so fans could listen to the pandemonium. After Koufax’s perfect game in 1965, Scully went silent for 38 seconds before talking again. He was similarly silent for a time after Kirk Gibson’s pinch-hit home run to win Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.
He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame that year, and also had the stadium’s press box named for him in 2001. The street leading to Dodger Stadium’s main gate was named in his honor in 2016.
That same year he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.
“God has been so good to me to allow me to do what I’m doing,” Scully, a devout Catholic who attended mass on Sundays before heading to the ballpark, said before retiring. “A childhood dream that came to pass and then giving me 67 years to enjoy every minute of it. That’s a pretty large thanksgiving day for me.”
In addition to being the voice of the Dodgers, Scully called play-by-play for NFL games and PGA Tour events as well as calling 25 World Series and 12 All-Star Games. He was NBC’s lead baseball announcer from 1983-89.
While being one of the most widely heard broadcasters in the nation, Scully was an intensely private man. Once the baseball season ended, he would disappear. He rarely did personal appearances or sports talk shows. He preferred spending time with his family.
In 1972, his first wife, Joan, died of an accidental overdose of medicine. He was left with three young children. Two years later, he met the woman who would become his second wife, Sandra, a secretary for the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams. She had two young children from a previous marriage, and they combined their families into what Scully once called “my own Brady Bunch.”
He said he realized time was the most precious thing in the world and that he wanted to use his time to spend with his loved ones. In the early 1960s, Scully quit smoking with the help of his family. In the shirt pocket where he kept a pack of cigarettes, Scully stuck a family photo. Whenever he felt like he needed a smoke, he pulled out the photo to remind him why he quit. Eight months later, Scully never smoked again.
After retiring in 2016, Scully made just a handful of appearances at Dodger Stadium and his sweet voice was heard narrating an occasional video played during games. Mostly, he was content to stay close to home.
“I just want to be remembered as a good man, an honest man, and one who lived up to his own beliefs,” he said in 2016.
In 2020, Scully auctioned off years of his personal memorabilia, which raised over $ 2 million. A portion of it was donated to UCLA for ALS research.
He was preceded in death by his second wife, Sandra. She died of complications of ALS at age 76 in 2021. The couple, who were married 47 years, had daughter Catherine together.
Scully’s other children are Kelly, Erin, Todd and Kevin. A son, Michael, died in a helicopter crash in 1994.
Much more to come on this story.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.