At the end of the 1957 baseball season, Brooklyn Dodgers management packed up for a long-threatened move across the continent.

Into the hypothetical moving trunks went the home uniforms saying “Dodgers” across the front, the creaky old heroes of Flatbush and much of the front office, plus Manager Walter Alston and his promising young players. (They were not quite sure whether the young lefty from Brooklyn, Sandy Koufax, would ever harness his velocity.)

Baseball was moving to the Promised Land. The historic New York Giants were also moving, to San Francisco, taking Willie Mays with them. (The noive of them.)

But nothing or nobody in the latter-day covered wagons would transport and transplant baseball to the Left Coast better than a young man not long removed from the Fordham campus in the Bronx and the broadcasting booth in Brooklyn named Vin Scully.

More than anybody or anything, Vin Scully sent baseball floating into the ozone — first from the ill-shaped Coliseum, and then, starting in 1962, from the pastel oasis on a former Mexican camp nestled into Chavez Ravine.

Scully was the warm voice wafting out into a warm climate, instructing the locals in the fine points of big-league baseball. (We sullen, forsaken Dodgers and Giants fans back east liked to think Californians knew nothing about baseball, Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams notwithstanding.)

On soft evenings in Chavez Ravine, the common denominator was not crowd noise or public-address announcements but the play-by-play narration of Scully and his sidekicks, discussing strategy as well as the past heroics of Messrs. Hodges and Reese and Snider and Erskine and Furillo, most of them operating on fading batteries.

Scully’s dulcet voice floated on stereophonic waves from new gadgets called “transistor radios,” easy to carry into the ballpark.

He was not the normal homer baseball announcer who was prone to saying things like, “Let’s get us a few runs this inning!” Vincent Edward Scully, who died Tuesday at 94, never shouted, never rooted, never patronized, never sermonized — just called plays and added personal notes about the players. His mellow, pull-up-a-chair approach was like having a beloved elder explain the game unfolding on the field. In 1958, only 30, Vin Scully was the repository for the history of a franchise beloved in another world.

“It wasn’t the first baseman, or the manager, or the team — certainly not with the won and lost record, because they had a tough year,” Peter O’Malley, the son of the former owner Walter O’Malley, said in a mid-July essay by Bill Shaikin of The Los Angeles Times about Scully’s immediate impact on Los Angeles.

“It was Vinny who introduced the team,” he added. “There was no one who could have done it better. When you pause to understand the impact that he had then, as well as today, it’s extraordinary.”

One consolation for the heartbroken Brooklyn fans left behind by the Dodgers was that Scully remained within earshot. He called World Series games often enough that we could be reminded of what we had lost. Gil Hodges and Duke Snider came to the Mets as faded icons, but Scully would materialize on the air waves at the peak of his game.

Scully had a good teacher in Red Barber, who was broadcasting Brooklyn games when Scully was a young (Giants) fan. Barber had his practiced Southern patter. (“Tearing up the pea-patch,” “the two teams are having a rhubarb,” the Dodgers are “sitting in the catbird seat” — we came to know exactly what each one meant.) But behind the jocular and charming regionalisms, Barber was a complicated religious man who had once thought about being a teacher.

In an informative biography published in April, “Red Barber: The Life and Legacy of a Broadcasting Legend,” Judith R. Hiltner and James R. Walker tell how Barber imposed a strict regimen on his young understudy.

Five of Vin Scully’s Most Memorable Calls

Jonathan Ellis🎙 Listening to Vin Scully (1927-2022)

Five of Vin Scully’s Most Memorable Calls

Jonathan Ellis🎙 Listening to Vin Scully (1927-2022)

Hank Aaron Breaks Babe Ruth’s Record, 1974
“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.”

Five of Vin Scully’s Most Memorable Calls

Jonathan Ellis🎙 Listening to Vin Scully (1927-2022)

Kirk Gibson’s Walk-Off Homer, Game 1 of the 1988 World Series
“In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened.”

Five of Vin Scully’s Most Memorable Calls

Jonathan Ellis🎙 Listening to Vin Scully (1927-2022)

Sandy Koufax’s Perfect Game, 1965
“And Sandy Koufax, whose name will always remind you of strikeouts, did it with a flourish. He struck out the last six consecutive batters. So when he wrote his name in capital letters in the record books, that K stands out even more than the O-U-F-A-X.”

Five of Vin Scully’s Most Memorable Calls

Jonathan Ellis🎙 Listening to Vin Scully (1927-2022)

Don Larsen’s Perfect Game, Game 5 of the 1956 World Series
“Got him. The greatest game ever pitched in baseball history, by Don Larsen. A no-hitter, a perfect game, in a World Series.”

Five of Vin Scully’s Most Memorable Calls

Jonathan Ellis🎙 Listening to Vin Scully (1927-2022)

Bill Buckner’s Error, Game 6 of the 1986 World Series
“If one picture is worth a thousand words, you have seen about a million words.”

Source: Read Full Article