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About Jon
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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
3) baiting other commenters
4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) discussing politics
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A Vinpreciation
2005-03-24
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

Just a real nice piece on listening to Vin Scully by ESPN.com's Eric Neel, taking the Designated Hitter slot today on Baseball Analysts. A sample:

It's a vast stretch between the coast and the desert, and thanks in part to a tangle of freeways, a history of water grabs, and great geographical diversity, the L.A. area is a spread-wide place, with communities distanced and often cut off from one another. That's part of the charm of the place, for sure; you get great variety and, at the margins, some fantastic cultural, culinary, and political mélanges. But it comes, too, with a kind of alienated undercurrent, like the city's prone to spin, from time to time, like Yeats' widening gyre, like you're not always sure what connects you to folks on some other spoke of the wheel. I've always felt that Vin counteracts that in some steady, fundamental way.

Comments
2005-03-24 14:18:39
1.   Marty
It was a really good read. I got to meet Vin a few times in the pressbox in the 70's. A friend's dad worked in the Spanish broadcasting booth then and we often got free tickets. Every once in awhile we would get to go into the booth right after the game and more often than not, we would say hi to Vin and Jerry Doggett. Vin was (and I'm sure still is) the nicest person. We were in our early 20's, and probably obnoxious, but he'd always ask how we were and you felt he really meant it. Once he actually ate a hot dog with us. Those are great memories.
2005-03-24 14:28:58
2.   Ben P
That really was a lovely, gracefully written piece. It's funny the extent to which, when I recall being a Dodger fan as a little kid, my memories are as much about listening to Vin as they are about the teams and games themselves.

I remember the first time I had my own bedroom, when I was about eight years old and I no longer had to share a room with my older sister. For the first several nights I was scared at the prospect of sleeping in a room by myself. Fortunately, it was the summer and my bedtime coincided neatly with Dodger broadcasts. Hearing Vin on my old Hitachi radio was the most comforting thing in the world. As Neel suggested, hearing him made me feel like I wasn't really alone.

2005-03-24 14:35:00
3.   Jim Hitchcock
Thanks for the story, Marty. I envy you.

When I recall the 91 earthquake, my thoughts all center on his son dying in a helicopter crash whike inspecting powerlines. Just can't get that outof my mind.

Does anyone remember the LA Times article published, I think, just before the '88 season (not talking about the LA Times Magazine article where he was featured on the cover as `the most trusted man in L.A.)? The article started off with him on a plane, opening his briefcase to find a Snickers bar on top...put there by his family. Think that was the same article where he talked about quitting smoking, fighting the cravings by whipping out a picture of his family.

I've heard it said, and know it to be true, that Vinny has never had an unkind word to say about anybody...would that we could all be like that.

2005-03-24 15:02:50
4.   Jerry
Most beloved Angelino ever? Californian? Maybe Reagan comes close.
2005-03-24 15:16:20
5.   Suffering Bruin
What a terrific piece of writing, particularly the excerpt posted by Jon.

Truthfully, I had almost given up hope that such sportswriting was possible which means either a) I'm not reading enough of it or b) sportswriting such as this was much more commonplace in days gone by. Either way, a piece such as this makes for a very good read and it's been a long time since I could say that about the MSM. Thanks, Jon.

2005-03-24 15:19:46
6.   Bob Timmermann
Since Vin hasn't run for office, he probably has fewer people who hate him than Reagan.

You can find people who dislike Vin. There used to be a guy on Baseball Primer (pre-registration days) who just despised Vin. He even said the Dodgers' financial problems were not because of things like Dreifort's contract, but rather because they wasted money on Vin's salary.

2005-03-24 15:21:43
7.   GoBears
"Most beloved Angelino ever? Californian? Maybe Reagan comes close."

Well, Vin's charms are, for the most part, reserved for Angelinos. Bay Area folk, to say nothing of rural Californians, only hear him once in a great while. Nonetheless, could he have any detractors? Reagan was much loved, but also much hated. He was polarizing. Vin is not.

Eric Neel's stuff on ESPN.com is always good too. My earliest memories of Vin are also from 1974, though I was a year Neel's senior. I don't know how many times my mother would confiscate the old transistor radio I got from my grandfather, when I'd fall asleep with it under my pillow, listening to Vinnie. And every time, my Dad would find it, and the cycle would repeat. Good times.

2005-03-24 15:23:48
8.   everett
nothing gets the nostalgia running like ....

i wanted to make a great (bad) analogy but i'll stop myself short.

it's fun reading a well written look back at memories with a grandfather telling great stories...

--ev

2005-03-24 15:28:27
9.   GoBears
Bob's post appeared while I was writing mine. Wow. I'm surprised by the notion of an anti-Vin sentiment out there. OF course, there's no accounting for taste, but what's there to dislike? Bob - what was the guy's beef? Too many stories, not enough stats? I'd agree that Vin is no Sabermetrician when it comes to player evaluation. But he really doesn't do a lot of player evaluation or editorializing anyway. It's not as if he's Joe Morgan, going nuts about stolen bases, or every former catcher in the booth, who would swear that framing a pitch is the key to every ballgame. He just tells stories, calls the play-by-play, and expresses excitement for the game in general.
2005-03-24 15:38:07
10.   popup
Thanks for posting the Eric Neel essay Jon. Vin is without question the best baseball broadcaster I have ever heard just as Sandy Koufax is without question the best pitcher I have ever seen. Listening to Vin describe Sandy pitch is as close to perfection as baseball can get. Rob deserves a tip of everyone's Dodger cap for making Vin's call of Sandy's perfect game available to all
2005-03-24 16:01:43
11.   Chris H
The guy who hated Vin over at Primer was an Angel fan. I'm not sure if that had anything to do with it, but it might be part of it. His rants were pretty petty. May favorite part was that he called Vin's fans "The Cult of Vin".
2005-03-24 16:36:10
12.   Bob Timmermann
The guy signed his name "Anaheim Andy" and he didn't like Vin's tone of voice or his penchant for cooing over little kids in the stands. And he thought all the quotes from literature were phony.

I think the guy was mostly a troll and I'm not surprised he didn't turn up after they switched to registration over there.

But for every person who likes Vin Scully, there is just as likely to be someone who thinks that Phil Rizzuto was the greatest play-by-play man ever.

OK, maybe not him, but Chicagoans will tell you how great Harry Caray was despite his numerous shortcomings.

2005-03-24 16:43:19
13.   GoBears
My wife and I have agreed while watching Vin gush over kids in the stands that if it were anyone other than Vin, it might seem a little creepy. With him, tho, it just seems like a gentle old grandpa. Probably a little guilty over spending so much time on the road all these years....

Sure, I can see others thinking their guy is the best, but that's a non-debate because we don't get to hear everyone's "guy" day in and day out. I was just surprised that anyone would have anything negative to say about Vin. Especially nowadays, when detailed stats, and out-of-town scores, etc., are just a click away, his narrative, conversational approach to the game seems that much more special and necessary. OK, I'm in the cult. I have kool-aid-stained teeth. So be it.

2005-03-24 17:23:50
14.   Bob Timmermann
Somebody will always hate somebody for something.
2005-03-24 17:34:25
15.   T Money
Real quick, two of my favorite recent Vin moments:

Last year, during a game against the Padres, he noted that the Pads had two batters in a row, both named "Ramon." (It was Ramon Hernandez, I think, and someone else...) He said, "The Ramons, it sounds like a singing group." Then there was a long pause, and he came back with, "I've just been informed that 'The Ramones' WAS a punk rock singing group." Before that instant, I'd sort of figured I'd never hear Vin utter the words "punk rock." And then, bam, there it was.

Number 2, also last year, a game at Pac Bell. Pedro Feliz was playing first, and some Dodger grounded a little squirter towards him. As the ball was spinning, Vin said "There's a little English on that ball." And when Feliz finally fielded the ball, Vin followed with, "And now there's a little Dominican on it."

My point, I guess, is that Vin is awesome.

2005-03-24 17:52:21
16.   Jacob L
I remember the Ramones incident from last year, and had just about the same reaction. I also recall thinking to myself, "they play the Ramones on the P.A. just about every night at Dodger Stadium."

Anyone remember a game in Cininnati a few years ago wherein Vin discussed his pregame walk downtown, and discovered the existence of size zero dresses? He couldn't get over it - a size zero!

I also love the sunscreen admonitions.

2005-03-24 18:52:16
17.   Doug N
Not sure what's more troubling...

(1) Yet another quote that includes the word melange...
(2) The fact that no one has stooped so low as to bring it up yet...

2005-03-24 20:24:03
18.   KouFern
Read the whole article -- it was so well-written it inspired my first post to Baseball Analysts. I'll repeat the main point of that post: Dodger fans are truly blessed: we have two Hall-of-Fame broadcasters, Vin and Jaime Jarrin. If you're bilingual, you've been doubly spoiled. Marty -- you were doubly lucky.
2005-03-24 22:12:06
19.   Bob Timmermann
Vin taught me that hope is a thing with feathers. (Or so Emily Dickinson wrote.)
2005-03-25 07:53:58
20.   Marty
KouFern thanks for reminding me about Jaime Jarrin. He was also a very good guy to us. My friend's dad worked the cassette deck there, plugging in the advertising. So, we actually saw Jaime and Rudy much more often than Vin and Jerry.
2005-03-25 07:54:51
21.   Ben P
I just dug up that LA Times piece Jim Hitchcock mentioned. It was written by then-Timesman Rick Reilly in April 1985. Here's the relevant passage (from the end of the article):

On his way to Vero Beach in mid-March for the 36th time, Scully, heavy-hearted and looking into the teeth of another eight-month season, plunked down in his seat in the first-class cabin and looked, for once, almost unhappy.

"You get to thinking, 'Well, here I go for two more weeks on the road.' I figured it all out once and I realized that in my career, I've been away from home for something like three full years. Three years. That gets to you. That gets depressing."

When Scully gets depressed, he plunges himself into his work and so it was that he reached up to the overhead bin and pulled down his briefcase to do some.

When he opened it, he found a Snickers candy bar.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, here was Vin Scully, millionaire businessman, baseball's storyteller, distinguished journalist, Peabody Award Winner and Hall of Fame resident, sitting in the first-class cabin of an airplane with a Snickers bar.

He took it out. There was a note attached.

It read:

Dear Daddy,
We'll Miss You,
Love, Us.

As Scully looked up, anybody could see in his eyes that, for at least this one moment, the show did not go on.

2005-03-25 08:25:49
22.   aloofman
I remember the "Ramons" game too, and I remember thinking right after he said it that someone would tell him. "I've just been told that there was a group called the "Ramones". So there you go." This was pretty recently too, I think about the time the Ramones were being inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame, so they were even in the news at the time. It's like Vin is stuck in a time warp to a simpler era and I love that.

There was a day game against the Rockies, in Colorado, I think. Between pitches Vin says, "And warming up in the bullpen for the Rockies is the dream of many a fair maiden." Long pause. What the heck is Vin talking about? "The Rockie reliever? Rich Batchelor." Classic. I'm sure that Vin saw his name on the roster before the game and thought of a good introduction for him.

Nobody else even comes close. Chick used to though.

2005-03-25 08:37:57
23.   socalcardfan
I remember a game in 1960 or 61 (pre Koufax greatness)vs. the Cardinals in which Koufax gave up a game-winning broken bat hit to Charlie James (IIRC) and Vinnie described Koufax walking off the mound, picking up the meat end of the bat and jabbing the broken end into the ground and finishing the statement with "someday, someday".

Okay, a five year old wants to sit on my lap.

2005-03-25 08:49:41
24.   socalcardfan
I was interrupted in note 23 but, growing up in central California, our best bet to listen to a Dodgers game was in my dad's car, an old Pontiac. More than once, it overheated in the driveway as we listened to Vinnie on the radio. We were afraid we would run down the battery if we didn't have the car idling at least part of the time.

Later, my brother got a great transistor radio for Christmas and the games on KFI came in great in the house. If we set the radio on top of the piano and turned it just right, we could actually pick up KMOX out of St. Louis for an inning or two between fade outs and listen to Harry Caray cheering on the Cards.

Even as a Cardinal fan, it just didn't seem right to me that Harry would be so one-sided. Of course, Russ Hodges of the Giants wasn't much different from Harry with his calls of "you can tell it bye bye baby" or, when the Giants were down four or five runs and got a runner on base how they had "a foot in the door."

2005-03-25 12:04:20
25.   Jim Hitchcock
Ben P, thanks very much for filling in the text of that article. 20 years ago. Wow!
2005-03-25 12:54:07
26.   Im So Blue
I found the article that includes the anecdote about Vin quitting smoking. It's titled "INSIDE VIN SCULLY" and appeared in the LA Times on April 26, 1998, written by . . . Bill Plaschke:

Hi, everybody, and a very pleasant good evening to you wherever you may be. It is a stressful night in Los Angeles, about 35 years ago, and let's set the scene:

The Dodger announcer has just read the surgeon general's report that smoking is bad for your health, so he has decided to quit. But he needs help. So he turns to the one place of stability in his life. He turns to his family.

In his shirt pocket, where he used to keep his cigarettes, he places a family photo. Whenever he feels like he needs a smoke, he reaches into his pocket and pulls out the photo. He says it reminds him of why he is quitting. For eight months, struggling constantly to break his habit, he reaches into his pocket and touches that photo. It frays and fades, but it never leaves that shirt pocket, never leaves his reach. And after eight months, wouldn't you know it, it works. It really works. Vincent Edward Scully, bless him, never smokes again.

2005-03-25 15:44:42
27.   Jim Hitchcock
Echo my thanks to you , Im So Blue. Funny the things that stick in the ole memory. Funny too that I morphed articles separarted by 13 years into one...oh well.

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