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Preparing for the legendary broadcaster’s last call
By Steve Breazeale
I hope you are all stocked up on tissues. If you haven’t, go to Costco now where you can get the deluxe pack. You’ll need it.
Vin Scully, the iconic voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers, will call his final game in that signature Brooklyn-tinted baritone voice on Oct. 2 in San Francisco. He’s been the Dodgers’ unifying bridge from past to present for 67 years, and he is calling it a career. What a run it has been.
Over the weekend, which was appropriately dubbed “Vin Scully Appreciation Week” in Chavez Ravine, the Dodgers held a pre-game ceremony in the man’s honor, and dozens paid tribute. The Dodgers did their part by making Scully’s final game at home one to remember. Before stepping into the batter’s box on Sunday, each player tipped their cap to Scully as they dug in. In the 10th inning, Charlie Culberson swatted a game-winning walk-off home run that clinched the division for the Dodgers.
It was another memorable highlight for the master to observe and bring to us in the most perfect way possible.
“Swung on and a high fly ball to deep left field, the Dodger bench empties. Would you believe a home run? And the Dodgers have clinched the division and will celebrate on schedule,” he said.
Almost 30 seconds of silence followed as Scully allowed the moment to breathe, which is a signature move of his. The crowd was going crazy, the Dodgers were going crazy and, rather than talk over the moment, Scully let us feel like we were there in the middle of it all by simply not saying a word. He has the ability to fill nine innings of baseball with stories if he wants, but Scully is at heart a minimalist.
For fans, that call of Culberson’s homer on Sunday might have sounded familiar. Just switch a few words around and you get the most iconic call in World Series history, which is another feather Scully has in his cap.
“High fly ball into right field. She is… Gone!” Again silence, 67 seconds of it in fact, as a hobbled Kirk Gibson pumps his fist after watching his hit sail over the wall and lead the Dodgers to a Game One victory over Oakland in 1988.
And then, after all that silence, Scully hits us with a poignant haymaker: “In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened.” Perfect, minimalist Vin. It’s his signature call.
But for every precise, calculated game-winning call he has on his resume, Vin Scully has the ability to make the third inning in Cincinnati in the middle of June fly by.
Because I don’t have access to purchase Time Warner Cable’s SportsNetLA package (an issue I griped about in this space months ago), I have only been allowed snippets of Vin throughout the year. During ESPN’s broadcast of the Dodgers and Giants game last Wednesday, they plugged into the Dodgers’ feed for the fourth inning and Scully was in rare form.
He talked about how the Giants’ Eduardo Nunez was a dirt collector, meaning he has a knack for sliding into a base head first, which he did twice in a previous inning. Vin also gave us a lesson in Japanese because starting pitcher Kenta Maeda was on the mound. I now know that I can walk down the streets of Tokyo and greet someone by saying “Ohio,” which Vin told me translates to “good morning.”
The inning was a microcosm of a Scully broadcast. In between the action, which he never fails to describe, he gives us those pieces of gold. He talks to you, the viewer, as if you were sitting next to him in the ballpark.
You might have heard of the serendipitous nature of Scully’s impending final broadcast in San Francisco. In 1936, Scully said he fell in love with baseball while wandering past a laundromat in New York. Game One of the 1936 World Series was on, and he poked his head inside to watch on a TV, only to see the final score read Yankees 18, Giants 4. He felt bad for the Giants and instantly became a fan. Now, almost 80 years to the date, he will call his final game with the Giants on the field.
Vin will start the game as he always does, with the informal greeting that has become a trademark.
“Hi, everybody, and a very pleasant good evening to you, wherever you may be.”
I know where I’ll be. I’ll be on my couch, watching and listening to a baseball icon that has taught me how to love and appreciate the game sign off one final time. It might get a little dusty during that ninth inning. So make sure to have your tissues handy.