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Vin Scully

Vin Scully

Vincent Edward Scully (born November 29, 1927) is an American sportscaster, known primarily as the play-by-play voice of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team on Prime Ticket, KCAL-TV and KABC radio. His 61 seasons with the Dodgers (1950–present) is the longest of any broadcaster with a single club in professional sports history, and he is second by a year to only Tommy Lasorda in terms of length of years with the Dodgers organization in any capacity.

Scully received the Ford Frick Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, and was honored with a Life Achievement Emmy Award for sportscasting and induction into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1995. The National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association has named Scully as National Sportscaster of the Year three times (1965, 1978, 1982) and California Sportscaster of the Year 29 times, and inducted him into its Hall of Fame in 1991. He was named both Broadcaster of the Century by the American Sportscasters Association (2000) and top sportscaster of all-time on its Top 50 list (2009). Scully has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6675 Hollywood Blvd.

Early life

Born in The Bronx, Scully grew up in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan. He made ends meet by delivering beer and mail, pushing garment racks, and cleaning silver in the basement of the Pennsylvania Hotel in New York City. His father was a silk salesman; his mother a Roman Catholic homemaker of Irish descent with red hair like her son. Scully attended high school at Fordham Preparatory School in the Bronx. As a kid growing up in Washington Heights, he was a big Mel Ott fan. He knew he wanted to be a sports announcer the moment he became fascinated with football broadcasts on his radio.

Scully began his career as a student broadcaster and journalist at Fordham University. While at Fordham, he helped form its FM radio station WFUV (which now presents a Vin Scully Lifetime Achievement Award each year), was assistant sports editor for Volume 28 of The Fordham Ram his senior year, sang in a barbershop quartet, played center field for the Fordham Rams baseball team, called radio broadcasts for Rams baseball, football, and basketball, got a degree, and sent about 150 letters to stations along the Eastern seaboard. He got only one response, from CBS Radio affiliate WTOP in Washington, which made him a fill-in.

Scully was then recruited by Red Barber, sports director of the CBS Radio Network, for its college football coverage. Scully impressed his boss with his coverage of a football game from frigid Fenway Park in Boston, despite having to do so from the stadium roof. Expecting an enclosed press box, Scully had left his coat and gloves at his hotel, but never mentioned his discomfort on the air. Barber mentored Scully and told him that if he wanted to be a successful sports announcer he should never be a "homer" (openly showing a rooting interest for the team that employs you), never listen to other announcers, and keep his opinions to himself.

 

Brooklyn Dodgers

In 1950, Scully joined Barber and Cornelius (Connie) Desmond in the Brooklyn Dodgers' radio and television booths. When Barber got into a salary dispute with World Series sponsor Gillette in 1953, Scully took Barber's spot for the Fall Classic. At the age of 25, Scully became the youngest person ever to broadcast a World Series (a record that stands to this day). Barber left the Dodgers after the 1953 season to work for the New York Yankees. Scully eventually became the team's principal announcer. Scully called the Dodgers' games in Brooklyn until 1957, after which the club moved west to Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Scully accompanied the Dodgers in their new location beginning with the 1958 season, and quickly established himself as a popular voice to the team's Southern California fans. Because fans had difficulty following the action during the team's four seasons in the cavernous Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, it soon became customary for them to bring transistor radios to the games to hear Scully and partner Jerry Doggett describe what was happening. This practice continued even after the team's move to Dodger Stadium in 1962. Engineers for the Dodgers' radio and television stations (as well as those of other teams) often had difficulty adjusting to the sound of Scully's play-by-play amplified from the stands at Dodger home games.

In 1964, the New York Yankees offered Scully the opportunity to succeed Mel Allen as their lead play-by-play announcer. Scully chose to remain with the Dodgers, however, and his popularity in Los Angeles became such that in 1976 the team's fans voted him the "most memorable personality" in the history of the franchise.

CBS

Like Red Barber and Mel Allen in the 1940s, Scully retained his credentials in football even as his baseball career blossomed. From 1975 to 1982, Scully called National Football League games for CBS Sports television. One of his most famous NFL calls is Dwight Clark's touchdown catch in the NFC Championship Game on January 10, 1982 (which Scully called with Hank Stram as his final NFL telecast for CBS), that put the San Francisco 49ers into Super Bowl XVI.
“     Montana...looking, looking, throwing in the endzone...Clark caught it! Dwight Clark!...It's a madhouse at Candlestick!     ”

Scully also anchored the network's tennis and PGA Tour golf coverage in the late 1970s and early 1980s, usually working the golf events with Pat Summerall, Ken Venturi, and Ben Wright. From 1975 to 1982, he was part of the team that covered the Masters tournament for CBS. Scully's network commitments led to him working a reduced schedule with the Dodgers, who hired Ross Porter to help pick up the slack.

In 1977, Scully began his first of two stints calling baseball for CBS Radio, broadcasting the All-Star Game through 1982 and the World Series from 1979–1982.

Departure from CBS

Scully decided to leave CBS in favor of a job calling baseball games for NBC (beginning in 1983) following a dispute over assignment prominence (according to CBS Sports then-producer Terry O'Neil, in the book The Game Behind the Game). CBS decided going into the 1981 NFL season that John Madden, who CBS had hired in 1979 and who had called games alongside Frank Glieber and Gary Bender his first two years, was going to be the star color commentator of their NFL television coverage. But they had trouble figuring out who was going to be his play-by-play partner, as Scully was in a battle with CBS' lead play-by-play voice Pat Summerall for the position. At the time Scully was CBS' #2 NFL voice, having been in this position since 1975, and was in his first year calling games alongside former Kansas City Chiefs coach Hank Stram, who had been promoted from CBS' #3 broadcast team alongside Curt Gowdy.

To resolve the situation both Scully and Summerall were paired with Madden in four week stints, which coincided with each of their respective absences due to other engagements. While Summerall was away calling the U.S. Open for CBS as he did every September, Scully called the first four weeks of the season alongside Madden. After that Scully went on to cover the National League Championship Series and World Series for CBS Radio, as he had done for the past few Octobers, and Summerall returned to the broadcast booth to work with Madden.

After the eighth week of the NFL season, CBS Sports decided that Summerall meshed more with Madden than Scully did and named him to be the man who would call Super Bowl XVI for CBS on January 24, 1982, at the Pontiac Silverdome. An angry Scully, who felt his intelligence was insulted by the move, was assigned as a consolation that year's NFC Championship Game, which he called alongside Stram. Summerall took Stram's place alongside Jack Buck to call the game over CBS Radio.
NBC
Main article: Major League Baseball on NBC
Joe Garagiola and Vin Scully (right) as depicted on the cover of the souvenir program for the 1983 Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

Outside of Southern California, Vin Scully is probably best remembered for being NBC television's lead baseball broadcaster from 1983 to 1989. Besides calling the Saturday Game of the Week for NBC, Scully called three World Series (1984, 1986, and 1988), four National League Championship Series (1983, 1985, 1987, and 1989), and four All-Star Games (1983, 1985, 1987, and 1989). Scully also reworked his Dodgers schedule during this period, as he would only broadcast home games on the radio, road games for television, and got Fridays and Saturdays off so he could work for NBC.

Teaming with Joe Garagiola for NBC telecasts (with the exception of 1989, when Scully teamed with Tom Seaver), Scully was on hand for several key moments in baseball history: Fred Lynn hitting the first grand slam in All-Star Game history (1983); the 1984 Detroit Tigers winning the World Series; Ozzie Smith's game-winning home run in Game 5 of the 1985 National League Championship Series; the sixth game of the 1986 World Series; the 1987 All-Star Game in Oakland, which was deadlocked at 0–0 before Tim Raines broke up the scoreless tie with a triple in the top of the 13th inning; the first official night game in the history of Chicago's Wrigley Field (August 9, 1988); Kirk Gibson's game-winning home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series; and chatting with Ronald Reagan (who said to Scully, "I've been out of work for six months and maybe there's a future here.") in the booth during the 1989 All-Star Game in Anaheim.

On Saturday, June 3, 1989, Scully was doing the play-by-play for the NBC Game of the Week in St. Louis, where the Cardinals beat the Chicago Cubs in 10 innings. Meanwhile, Dodgers were playing a series in Houston and Scully flew to Houston to be on hand to call the Sunday game of the series. However, the Saturday night game between the teams was going into extra innings when Scully arrived at Houston, so he went to the Astrodome instead of his hotel. He picked up the play-by-play, helping to relieve the other Dodger announcers, who were doing both television and radio, and broadcast the final 13 innings (after already calling 10 innings in St. Louis), as the game went 22 innings. He broadcast 23 innings in one day in two different cities.

Laryngitis prevented Scully from calling Game 2 of the 1989 National League Championship Series between the San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs. Bob Costas, who was working the American League Championship Series between Oakland and Toronto with Tony Kubek, was flown from Toronto to Chicago to fill in that evening (an off day for the ALCS).

After the 1989 season, NBC would lose the television rights to cover Major League Baseball to CBS. It was the first time that NBC would not be able to televise baseball since 1946. In the aftermath, Scully said of NBC losing baseball,
“     It's a passing of a great American tradition. It is sad. I really and truly feel that. It will leave a vast window, to use a Washington word, where people will not get Major League Baseball and I think that's a tragedy. ... It's a staple that's gone. I feel for people who come to me and say how they miss it and, I hope, me.     ”

Scully also served as an announcer for NBC's PGA Tour golf coverage during his time at the network, usually teaming with Lee Trevino.

1990–present
After leaving NBC, Scully returned to CBS Radio baseball in 1990, calling the network's World Series broadcasts through 1997. After ESPN Radio acquired Series radio rights from CBS in 1998, Scully decided to retire from national broadcasting.

From 1991 to 1996, Scully broadcast the annual PGA Skins Game for ABC. He had previously called the event for NBC from 1983 to 1989. He also called golf events for TBS during this period. In 1999, Scully was the master of ceremonies for MasterCard's Major League Baseball All-Century Team before the start of Game 2 of the World Series. Also in 1999, Scully appeared in the movie For Love of the Game.

The Dodgers announced in February 2006, that they had extended Scully's contract through the 2008 season for about $3 million a year. In recent years, Scully cut back his work schedule to approximately 110 games a year. Usually, he will call the first three innings of a Dodgers game via a radio-and-television simulcast, then the rest exclusively for television. Scully will normally not call a non-playoff game that takes place east of Denver; exceptions were the 2007 season opening series in Milwaukee and a series against the Chicago Cubs. On June 18th, 2010, however, Scully called the game between the Dodgers and Red Sox. He also isn't normally scheduled to call a Dodgers game (for radio or television) if ESPN is televising it for Sunday Night Baseball or Fox is televising it on Saturday afternoons.

Scully reportedly won't attend or watch a baseball game that he isn't announcing. It wasn't until 2004, and again in 2010, when he and Dodgers owner Frank McCourt attended a game at Fenway Park, that Scully was at a baseball game only as a spectator.

On August 22, 2010, it was announced that Scully would return for the 2011 season, his 62nd as the voice of the Dodgers. He will continue to broadcast Dodger home games as well as road games against National League West opponents.

Memorable calls

Scully has been on hand for some of Baseball’s most famous moments, immortalizing many in calls that have since become part of the game's lore:

    * The 1955 World Series, the Brooklyn Dodgers first (and only) World Series Championship
    * Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series between the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers on 8 October 1956
    * Sandy Koufax’s perfect game on 9 September 1965
    * Hank Aaron’s 715th home run on 8 April 1974
    * Bill Buckner’s muffed ground ball in the 1986 World Series between the New York Mets and Boston Red Sox on 25 October 1986
    * Kirk Gibson’s dramatic home run in Game 1 of the World Series between the Dodgers and the Oakland Athletics on 15 October 1988
    * Fernando Valenzuela's 29 June 1990 no-hitter
    * Montreal Expo Dennis Martínez's 28 June 1991 perfect game against the Dodgers
    * The Dodgers four consecutive home runs against the San Diego Padres on 18 September 2006
    * The September 16th, 1988 perfect game by Tom Browning (of the Cincinnati Reds, against the Dodgers in Riverfront Stadium, Cincinnati, (won by the Reds, 1-0).

Tragedy

Scully has endured a pair of personal tragedies in his life. In 1972, his 35-year-old wife, Joan Crawford (no relation to the actress), died of an accidental medical overdose. Scully was suddenly a widowed father of three after 15 years of marriage. In late 1973, he married Sandra Schaefer, who had two children of her own, and they soon would have another child together.

In 1994, Scully's eldest son, Michael, died in a helicopter crash at the age of 33 while working for the ARCO Transportation Company. Although Michael's death still haunts him, Scully (while appearing on HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel in July 2005) said he credits his faith and being able to dive back into his work with helping him ease the burden and grief. Scully is a devout Roman Catholic.

 

Other appearances

In 1970, ABC Sports producer Roone Arledge tried to lure Scully to his network to call play-by-play for the then-new Monday Night Football games, but Scully's commitment to the Dodgers forced him to reject the offer.

Besides his sportscasting work, Scully was the uncredited narrator for the short-lived NBC sitcom Occasional Wife. Scully also co-hosted the Tournament of Roses Parade with Elizabeth Montgomery for ABC in 1967, served as the host for the NBC game show It Takes Two in 1969–70, and in 1973 hosted The Vin Scully Show, a weekday afternoon talk-variety show on CBS. In 1977 he hosted the prime-time Challenge of the Sexes for CBS.

Scully was the announcer in the popular Sony PlayStation-exclusive MLB video game series by 989 Sports for a number of years. Scully has since retired announcing for video games, with his final year announcing on the video game MLB 2005. Dave Campbell and Matt Vasgersian have since taken over as the lead announcers in the video game series, which was retitled MLB: The Show.

Scully appeared as himself in the 1999 film For Love of the Game, and his voice can be heard calling baseball games in the films Bachelor in Paradise (1961), Experiment in Terror (1962), and The Party (1968), as well as in episodes of the TV series Mister Ed and Brooklyn Bridge. The surname of the "Dana Scully" character on the television show The X-Files is an homage to Scully, as the show's creator Chris Carter is a Dodgers fan.

Impersonators

Harry Shearer does an impersonation of Scully on The Simpsons as the Gabbo puppet character, and also uses it when the storyline includes the fictional team of the Springfield Isotopes. San Francisco Giants and ESPN broadcaster Jon Miller is noted in baseball circles for his dead-on impersonation of Scully. Dan Bernstein, co-host of the Boers and Bernstein Show on Chicago's WSCR radio station, does an impersonation of Scully often when the word "Dodgers" is said on the air.

Chris Cox often appears on the podcast Sklarbro Country as his character Racist Vin Scully.

By TBP

 

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CBS, Ford Frick Award, Hall of Fame, Los Angeles Dodgers, Vin Scully, broadcaster

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