Storyteller-broadcaster Vin Scully retiring after 67 years

Vin Scully and Hall-of-Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax embrace during the pregame ceremony honoring the Dodgers broadcaster on Sept. 23, 2016. (Credit: L.A. Times)
Vin Scully and Hall-of-Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax embrace during the pregame ceremony honoring the Dodgers broadcaster on Sept. 23, 2016.
(Credit: L.A. Times)

Vin Scully is retiring as the Dodgers’ baseball announcer after 67 years. He was hired to broadcast Brooklyn Dodger games in 1950 and followed the team to L.A. in 1957. Since then, he has become one of baseball’s most trusted storytellers.

The Dodgers honored Vin at last night’s game at Dodger stadium. “Old timers” Sandy Koufax and Don Newcombe were on hand, among others. October 2 will mark Vin’s final broadcast of a Dodgers-Giant game.

The Hall of Fame broadcaster has an amazing institutional knowledge of baseball — and command of the English language. Plus that buttery voice.

I used to listen to Vin call the Dodger games on a transistor radio when I was a Little Leaguer growing up in L.A. in the ’60s. Sometimes I listened to the games in bed until I fell asleep. My dad would tell me the next morning that he’d come into my room to turn off the radio because it was still blaring away while I slept.

My grandfather and I would listen to Vin call the game on his radio, which had a leather case that I admired. We’d listen to the song “It’s a beautiful day for a ballgame,” which opened Dodger radio broadcasts for decades. It was a bonding time. He and grandmother lived over in Westwood.

When I went to Dodger games in the ’60s, I’d notice other fans watching the game while listening to Vin call the action on their radios. It was part of the experience. No one could pronounce “Julián Javier” (the St. Louis Cardinals second baseman in the ’60s) better than Vin. It just rolled off his tongue.

When we went to Giants-Dodger games in the ’80s and ’90s at Candlestick in San Francisco, we used to look for Vin in the press box and waive.

I met Vin when I worked for the S.F. Chronicle in the mid-’80s. We visited in the press box at AT&T Park.

Since then, I’ve been a subscriber to to listen to Vin announce the Dodger games. “Video streaming” brings us together, not a transistor radio. I’m going to miss him.

Letter to fans

Vin announcing a Dodger game in the '50s in Brooklyn (Credit: L.A. Dodgers)
Vin announcing a Dodger game in the ’50s in Brooklyn (Credit: L.A. Dodgers)

Here’s a letter Vin wrote to his fans this weekend:

“Dear Friends,

“Many years ago, a little red-headed boy was walking home from school, passing a Chinese laundry and stopped to see the score of a World Series game posted in the window. The Yankees beat the Giants, 18-4, on October 2, 1936. The boy’s reaction was pity for the Giants and he became a rabid Giants’ fan from that day forward, until the joyous moment when he was hired to broadcast Brooklyn Dodgers games in 1950. Ironically, October 2, 2016 will mark my final broadcast of a Giants-Dodgers game. It will also be exactly 80 years to the day since that little boy fell in love with baseball.

“God has been very generous to that little boy, allowing him to fulfill a dream of becoming a broadcaster and to live it for 67 years. Since 1958, you and I have grown up together through the good times and the bad. The transistor radio is what bound us together. Were you at the Coliseum when we sang “Happy Birthday” to an umpire?  Were you among the crowd that groaned at one of my puns? Did you kindly laugh at one of my little jokes? Did I put you to sleep with the transistor radio tucked under your pillow?

“You were simply always there for me. I have always felt that I needed you more than you needed me and that holds true to this very day. I have been privileged to share in your passion and love for this great game.

“My family means everything to me and I will now be able to share life’s experiences with them. My wife, Sandi, our children, Kevin, Todd, Erin, Kelly, and Catherine, along with our entire family will join me in sharing God’s blessings of that precious gift of time.

“You folks have truly been “The Wind Beneath My Wings” and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for joining me on this incredible journey of 67 years of broadcasting Dodger baseball.

“Heartfelt Thanks,

“Vin Scully”

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

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