How Traveling Vin Almost Bankrupted Scully

How Traveling Vin Almost Bankrupted Scully

Vin Scully, a baseball legend among legends, died earlier this week at the ripe old age of 94. Like millions of other Angelenos and grateful fans around the world, I am deeply grateful that I have enjoyed his amazing voice for so many years. And there’s a travel angle, too: He almost bankrupted him early in his career.

In memory of Vin Scully, a baseball legend and personal hero

Ask any LA Dodgers fan about Vin Scully and he’ll tell you his own story. Everyone has a story. Mine isn’t that different from so many others. My grandfather, a huge Dodgers fan (when they were winning), introduced me to him at a young age. Before each game was televised, we tuned Vin Scully into his large stereo radio in his study and just listened.

I recognized his captivating voice and remarkable eloquence early on.

My grandfather would take my brother and I to Dodgers games and he would bring the radio along with so many other fans and we would munch on peanuts and listen to Vin while we watched the game. His voice was synonymous with summer and with the innocence of youth and the bonds that unite us.

Vin Scully brought a diverse city together. What always struck me about Dodgers games is that the fans were as diverse as the city. There were no blacks and browns and whites…just blue: Dodgers fans came together to cheer for their team. Scully’s clairvoyance welded communities together and encouraged a more perfect union, emulating the virtues of benevolence, kindness, and a subtle but powerful celebration of progress.

When Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1974:

“What a wonderful moment for baseball. What a wonderful moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia. What a wonderful moment for the country and the world. A black man gets a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking the all-time baseball idol record.”

As I got older, I came to appreciate his golden voice and his remarkable ability to make almost anything interesting. My teenage years were marked by an ardent following of the Los Angeles Dodgers. I came home from school, turned on the VCR, and played my VHS recording of Game 1 of the 1988 World Series over and over. Scully’s call from Gibson’s ninth inning, game-winning home run, continues to give me chills.

“High flying ball into deep right field. She is gone!”

And then a break. A long break. The perfect break. So we could all take it, and even 25 years later, I could feel the pulse of Dodger Stadium from my living room.

And then this:

“In a year that was so unlikely, the impossible happened.”

Yes indeed.

Something Vin and I shared

Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to meet him. I’ve always dreamed of it… but time carries away all her sons like an eternal torrent. Scully was born in 1927 and began radio in 1950, still 22 years old. The early days of this blog, back then in the form of a podcast, also began for me at the age of 22 and I sincerely hope that I will be around as long as Scully. Scully was a natural from the start… I hope to learn from him and others and grow better in my role as a communicator. But he saw his chosen calling as a high calling, as I do every time I publish a story with my name on it.

Vin Scully and Travel

Oh, and the travel angle. Vin’s father was a traveling salesman. He died when Scully was only four years old. My other grandfather died when my father was seven. He also grew up without a father and I am so grateful that my father watched me grow up and is still with us today.

However, I wonder what would have happened if Scully’s father had lived? What if Scully didn’t listen to the radio at night and instead hung out with his father? What if he became a traveling salesman instead of a sports reporter? I’m sure he would have been incredibly successful, but the world may never have heard his voice.

Scully was a man after my own heart who preferred just doing his job (phone games) to not the mundane paperwork that sometimes comes with it. At the beginning of his career, he almost went broke because he kept not filling out his expense reports. Reminds me of someone… *cough*.

Vin went out at the top of his game, which few people can do so happily. You never want to retire too early, but you also don’t want to stay too long and somehow lose from the dressing room (like dear former Lakers show Chick Hearn, who’s another hero of mine but probably a few seasons on board stayed too long).

In his final years, Vin stopped traveling with the team, traveling first only to western states and eventually only within California. He also reduced the number of innings he’s made on radio…simulcasts are a lot harder because dead air is harder on radio (not that dead air was a problem for Vin, but it took a lot more effort).

It’s a reminder that we are also slowing down and that we should enjoy our ability to travel now.

CONCLUSION

I am so grateful to Vin Scully and his impact on my life. He truly impacted millions by bringing Los Angeles together and enhancing our discourse through his life’s work. In losing Vin we have lost a great treasure.


Picture above: LA Dodgers

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