LOS ANGELES (AP) — Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully, whose mellow tones provided the summer soundtrack while entertaining and educating Dodgers fans in Brooklyn and Los Angeles for 67 years, is died Tuesday evening, the team said. He was 94 years old.
Scully died at his home in the Hidden Hills section of Los Angeles, according to the team, who spoke to family members.
As the longest-serving, single-team broadcaster in professional sports history, Scully has seen and called it all. It started in the 1950s with Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson, through the 1960s with Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax, through the 1970s with Steve Garvey and Don Sutton, and through the 1980s with Orel Hershiser and Fernando Valenzuela . In the 1990s it was Mike Piazza and Hideo Nomo, followed by Clayton Kershaw, Manny Ramirez and Yasiel Puig in the 21st century.
The Dodgers have changed players, managers, executives, owners — and even odds — but Scully and his soothing, insightful style have remained a constant for fans.
He opened the broadcasts with the familiar greeting: “Hi, everyone, and a very pleasant good evening to you wherever you are.”
Always personable both in person and on air, Scully saw himself as merely a middleman between the game and the fans.
Despite being paid by the Dodgers, Scully wasn’t afraid to criticize bad play or a manager’s decision, or praise an opponent while telling stories against the backdrop of routine plays and notable accomplishments. . He always said he wanted to see things with his eyes, not with his heart.
Vincent Edward Scully was born on November 29, 1927 in the Bronx. He was the son of a silk seller who died of pneumonia when Scully was 7. Her mother moved the family to Brooklyn, where the red-haired, blue-eyed Scully grew up playing stickball in the streets.
As a child, Scully would grab a pillow, place it under the family’s four-legged radio, and lay her head directly under the speaker to hear whatever college football game was playing. With a snack of saltine crackers and a glass of milk nearby, the boy was transfixed by the roar of the crowd which raised goosebumps. He thought he’d like to call the action himself.
Scully, who played on the field for two years on the Fordham University baseball team, began his career working baseball, football and basketball games for the radio station of the university.
At age 22, he was hired by a CBS-affiliated radio station in Washington, D.C.
He soon joined Hall of Famer Red Barber and Connie Desmond in the radio and television booths of the Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1953, at age 25, Scully became the youngest person to broadcast a World Series game, a mark that still stands.
He moved west with the Dodgers in 1958. Scully called three perfect games — Don Larsen in the 1956 World Series, Sandy Koufax in 1965 and Dennis Martinez in 1991 — and 18 no-hitters.
He was also on the air when Don Drysdale set his scoreless innings streak of 58 2/3 innings in 1968 and again when Hershiser broke the record with 59 scoreless innings 20 years later.
When Hank Aaron hit his 715th homer to break Babe Ruth’s record in 1974, it was against the Dodgers and, sure enough, Scully called it.
“A black man receives a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking the all-time baseball idol record,” Scully told listeners. “What a wonderful time for baseball.”
Scully credited the birth of the transistor radio as the “biggest single break” of his career. Fans struggled to recognize lesser players in the Dodgers’ first four years in the sprawling Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
“They were about 70 odd rows away from the action,” he said in 2016. “They brought the radio in to find out about all the other players and to see what they were trying to see on the ground.”
This habit continued when the team moved to Dodger Stadium in 1962. Fans held radios to their ears and those not in attendance listened from their homes or cars, allowing Scully to connect generations of families with his words.
He’s often said that it’s better to describe a big room quickly, then shut up so fans can listen to the pandemonium. After Koufax’s perfect game in 1965, Scully was silent for 38 seconds before speaking again. He also remained silent for a while after Kirk Gibson’s home run to win Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.
He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame that year, and also had the stadium’s press box named in 2001. The street leading to the main gate of Dodger Stadium was named in his honor. in 2016.
That same year, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.
“God has been so good to me to allow me to do what I do,” said Scully, a devout Catholic who attended Sunday mass before heading to the ballpark before retiring. “A childhood dream come true that gave me 67 years to enjoy every moment of it. It’s a pretty big Thanksgiving for me.
In addition to being the voice of the Dodgers, Scully has called play-by-play for NFL games and PGA Tour events, as well as 25 World Series and 12 All-Star Games. He was NBC’s chief baseball announcer from 1983 to 1989.
While one of the most listened-to broadcasters in the country, Scully was an intensely private man. Once the baseball season was over, he would disappear. He rarely made personal appearances or on sports talk shows. He preferred to spend time with his family.
In 1972, his first wife, Joan, died of an accidental drug overdose. He remained with three young children. Two years later, he met the one who would become his second wife, Sandra, secretary of the Los Angeles Rams of the NFL. She had two young children from a previous marriage, and they combined their families into what Scully once called “my own Brady Bunch.”
He said he realized that time was the most precious thing in the world and he wanted to use his time to spend it with his loved ones. In the early 1960s, Scully quit smoking with the help of her family. In the shirt pocket where he kept a pack of cigarettes, Scully stuck a family photo. Whenever he felt he needed to smoke, he would pull out the picture to remind him why he had quit. Eight months later, Scully has never smoked again.
After retiring in 2016, Scully made just a handful of Dodger Stadium appearances and his sweet voice was heard narrating the occasional video played during games. Above all, he was content to stay close to home.
“I just want to be remembered as a good man, an honest man and a man who lived up to his own beliefs,” he said in 2016.
In 2020, Scully auctioned off years of her personal memorabilia, which fetched over $2 million. A portion was donated to UCLA for ALS research.
He was predeceased by his second wife, Sandra. She died of complications from ALS aged 76 in 2021. The couple, married for 47 years, had daughter Catherine together.
Scully’s other children are Kelly, Erin, Todd and Kevin. A son, Michael, died in a helicopter crash in 1994.
Former Associated Press staffer Stan Miller provided biographical information for this report.
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