Vin Scully is retiring from baseball broadcasting at the end of the 2016 season, his 67th as a play-by-play man, all with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Of all the Scully facts you can pull out of those nearly seven decades, I think this is the most remarkable: as a 22-year-old in his first year broadcasting the then-Brooklyn Dodgers on radio in 1950, one of the games Scully covered was a spring-training game against the then-Philadelphia.
Connie Mack, then 87 years old, almost the same age as Scully is now (88), was in his 50th and final season as the A's manager.
So there's two legendary personalities of the game, brought together in one place, more than six decades ago. Those two men span almost the entire history of baseball, as Mack made his debut as a player with an earlier version of the Washington Nationals in 1886.
In advance of the Cubs' series in Los Angeles this weekend, Ed Sherman spoke to Cubs broadcasters Len Kasper and Pat Hughes about Scully and wrote this Tribune article about their experiences with the legendary announcer. Hughes, in fact, had a fun story to tell about his first meeting with Scully:
Hughes was 16 when he and his brother sneaked into the Dodgers broadcast booth at Candlestick Park. Scully was in the middle of doing a commercial for Union 76.
"When he was done, he realized we were there," Hughes said. "Instead of telling us to get out, he winked and said, 'Hey, boys, how are you doing?' "
Hughes, now 61, doesn't have to sneak into the Dodgers' broadcast booth anymore. When the Cubs play in Los Angeles, the Cubs' radio voice on WSCR-AM 670 always makes it a point to visit with Scully.
"I look forward to seeing him much more than covering the game," Hughes said.
The response by Scully to seeing two teenagers who were somewhere they weren't supposed to be tells you so much about the wonderful human being Vin was, and is. This is confirmed by Kasper as well as new White Sox play-by-play announcer Jason Benetti:
However, Scully's announcing skills aren't the first thing people in the business mention when they talk about him. White Sox TV play-by-play man Jason Benetti met Scully for the first time this year while working a game for ESPN. He came away with a line that has been echoed by countless others.
"I'll never forget his kindness and warmth, that's for sure," Benetti said.
"He's incredibly gracious," Kasper said. "He always is so welcoming."
Kasper and Hughes both praised Scully's broadcasting style. Hughes called him "lyrical," while Kasper said, "It's so striking that what he says, and the words he uses, plays as well on paper as it does on a broadcast. He's like a great author. His pen is his voice."
Finally, Hughes asked Scully how he'd like to be remembered:
"I said to him, '100 years from now when people pull out tapes of your work — and they will — what do you want people to feel about you?' " Hughes said. "He said, 'It boils down to two things. I want them to think I was accurate. And I want them to think I was fair. If they want to say anything else, that's fine. Those are the two main things.'
"It's so simple, but it makes a lot of sense to me."
There's no doubt that Vin Scully is those two things, but he's much more than that. He's the voice of all of baseball, a reminder that much of the game we love is about stories and narratives, which he always weaves seamlessly into his coverage of every game. Those of you outside the Chicago market (except the portions of the Los Angeles area that don't get SportsNet LA) will be able to listen to him call Cubs games this weekend. If I could do that, I surely would, no disrespect to Len & JD.
Here's a video that has the audio track from Vin's intro to Game 1 of the 1989 NLCS at Wrigley Field, when the ballpark was "only" 75 years old.
You might find there's a bit of dust in the air while you're watching that.
I often turn on Dodgers games on MLB Extra Innings, in the late evenings before I go to sleep, just to hear Vin Scully call a baseball game. Though he's slowed down -- who wouldn't, at age 88? -- he's still the best in the business. I'll miss those late evenings.
I had hoped Vin might call Cubs/Dodgers postseason games if they meet, but he said a while back that he wouldn't call any playoff games. I understand, though it's too bad the end of the regular season will be it for Vin. It's sobering to think that the video above is now 27 years old, and we're still waiting. Yes, Vin. Maybe this time, it will be better.
Vin Scully is one of a kind. Someone (likely Joe Davis, who's been highly praised for his game-calling) will succeed him in the Dodgers booth. But no one will ever truly replace him.