By Dan Gudino
After 67 years as the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Vincent Edward “Vin” Scully gave his final home performance at Dodger Stadium Sunday afternoon.
Scully referred to us as friends and not fans.
His gratefulness and humbleness refused to use the word fan because it stems from the word fanatic. Instead he always made sure we were having, “A pleasant good evening, to wherever you may be.”
Scully brought a soothing calmness with his voice, day in and day out, even when the Dodgers were at their worst, and he’s never been afraid to criticize the Dodgers.
He called it like it was.
Back in the early ‘90s, when the Dodgers struggled to make the playoffs, the reason we watched and listened was Scully.
He made simple ground balls to second base, with a short throw to first base, sound so smooth.
We’re all convinced he was the greatest in the business. He brought us to tears when he shared his thoughts as to why he was leaving.
Scully said he doesn’t have many days left on Earth. It would be selfish of us to ask the 88-year-old back for another year.
He will be spending his retired days alongside his wife Sandra, their five children, 16 grandchildren and three-great grandchildren.
The transistor radio brought the voice to our homes. When we could not make the walk or the horrendous drive to the Ravine (Dodger Stadium), as he referred to it regularly, he talked to us personally through his microphone.
I remember walking from Chinatown to the “Magic Castle,” another nickname Scully gave the stadium, when I was 8 years old with my parents, and later I would came back down the hill excited to listen to the last innings of the ballgame from my bedroom.
My parents always left early from home games to combat the typical early departures of all the Dodger faithful trying to beat traffic. My weapon of choice was my baseball- shaped radio.
Underneath my pillow I’d put the radio on low volume so my mom would not storm in and interrupt Scully.
He spoke to us until the late innings of games. Going into extra innings meant more of Scully.
We trusted him because he painted a picture game after game. His descriptions made sense to my rested head and closed eyes on the pillow.
We slept calmly knowing that whatever happened, win or lose, it never mattered, Scully finished strong.
After spending his entire career with the Dodgers, Scully never chose sides. He stayed neutral like a pro-broadcaster should. He told stories, of players, coaches and personal experiences, proving he definitely was not like any of us.
There’s no way any of us could go through three hours of public speaking, reach into the back of our minds for stories of late ‘40s baseball. Then to put the icing on the cake, make us crack up.
One of the most bizarre stories he ever told, made us cringe, laugh and shocked us – was the one he told of rival San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner. He started the tale with typical stats like a pro, then talked of Bumgarner’s personal experience of saving a bunny.
Bumgarner, a southern boy, was in his ranch near the woods roping cattle. Bumgarner and his wife were shocked when they came upon a giant snake.
Bumgarner, in country fashion, hacked at the snake to death with an ax. His wife then finds two baby rabbits, one still alive inside the snake. The Bumgarners raised it because it reminded them of the perseverance it takes to be a ball player.
As Scully put it, you have to be tough like the rabbit to be a pro player. Only Scully could tell a story like that.
The most famous call Scully ever made was in the first game of the ’88 World Series. A home run from the injured Kurt Gibson to win game one for the Dodgers.
“It’s a deep fly ball to right field. She-Is-Gone!”
For almost a minute, Scully said nothing. The roar of the crowd said it all. What he said after a long pause was so fitting to his career.
“In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened.”
No one will ever replicate what Scully did, impossible.
Scully called his first World Series in 1950 when gas cost just 50 cents a gallon. Now in a world filled with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, Scully shuns the attention away from himself.
Even on his last day he remained modest. During the broadcast at Dodger Stadium, he said people jammed the stadium because it was Fan Appreciation Day. He was wrong. They filled the seats in 90-degree heat to witness the history of a humble man.
He was in awe when Dodger players all tipped their helmets in Scully’s direction in their first at-bats. He was so surprised that it was happening, helmet after helmet, wave after wave, players saluted Scully from the batter’s box to the press box.
The Dodgers made Scully go out in extra innings. It was magical. His story must have been written by a higher power.
Down 3-2, to the Colorado Rockies in the final inning, Dodgers’ shortstop Corey Seager whacked a homerun to right field to tie the game, reminiscent of Gibson’s ’88 World Series homer.
Then in the 10th inning with a swing from Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson, the National League West Division was won with a solo-home run, a 4-3 finale.
An incredible win that brought chills to us with a Hollywood scripted ending.
But Scully was not done, he surprised us with a gift. A recorded rendition of “Wind Beneath My Wings,” by Bette Midler.
Originally given to wife Sandra one Christmas morning, it brought her to tears, it made many cry.
From us to you: Thank you, Mr. Scully.