May 2022 Newsletter

Crop of non-Power 5 teams giving new flavor to chase for Omaha

By George Watson

Artifact of the Month

Where Are They Now

Vin Scully, who served as the voice of the Dodgers franchise for 67 years, poses with the George H.W. Bush Distinguished Alumnus Award prior to the award banquet in his honor in 2015.

Center field can be a lonely place.

Being pretty much the farthest from where the action is on every pitch, center fielders often must entertain themselves in order to remain in the game mentally. The good thing is the whole game unfolds right in front of them.

In the late 1940s, Vin Scully played center field at Fordham University, a private school in the heart of New York City. Even then, he knew he wanted to be a broadcaster, but playing the sport didn’t allow for much time behind the microphone at baseball games.

So, Scully did play-by-play of his own games from out in the expanses of center field, calling the action for an audience of one — most times.

“Once in a while, sometimes, there would be a priest or someone on campus who would hear me and they’d tell someone, ‘you know, Scully’s out there talking to himself again,’” Scully said.

Little did Scully, or anyone else for that matter, know it was the foundation for what would become one of the most legendary careers in sports broadcasting history.

Scully is woven into the fabric of Americana, as much a part of sports as any stadium, player, team or moment.

“Whether you root for the home team or the opposite team, you know what Vinny has done from coast to coast,” said Peter O’Malley, former owner and CEO of the Dodgers. “Yes, he’s done NFL, yes, he’s done The Masters, yes, he did tennis and college football. But in the most recent years it’s been strictly baseball, and he hasn’t even done the postseason in most recent years.

“His reputation has grown from what I remember in the 1970s when the fans thought he was the most memorable Dodger of them all, in Dodger history. His legacy has just grown from there every year.”

Luckily, Scully has been right there to describe some of history’s greatest moments in baseball, doing so with grace, simplicity and humility. It is this life that is celebrated as Scully is presented the George H.W. Bush Distinguished Alumnus Award by the National College Baseball Hall of Fame.

“I was surprised, somewhat shocked and maybe embarrassed because I know I certainly wasn’t good enough as a player,” Scully said about learning he had earned the award. “Eventually, I was just thrilled that I would receive it, though I didn’t feel I was worthy. I assumed it was because you had to be a very good baseball player and I couldn’t possibly consider myself in that class.”

When it comes to broadcasting, however, few, if any, have ever been in Scully’s class.

Thrust into action

After a year in the Navy, Scully, a Bronx native, enrolled at Fordham and, while playing for the Rams, helped found a campus FM station, WFUV, which still exists to this day. He was able to gain some experience calling games for the station. From there he sent out numerous letters seeking a job and received only one offer.

Turns out, it would be the only offer he would ever need. CBS Radio in Washington hired him as a fill-in, where he would call games as a replacement for the regular broadcasters when each would take their summer vacations.

Scully’s work impressed the director of sports for CBS Radio, the legendary Red Barber, in New York City. Barber recruited Scully to join the Brooklyn Dodgers broadcast team in 1950 after Ernie Harwell left to become the play-by-play voice of the crosstown New York Giants baseball team.

“I think the biggest thing I learned from Red was preparation,” Scully said. “He was extremely thorough, and I tried to be as thorough as possible myself. One of the things that he advised me when I first started was to bring something into the booth that no one can bring, and I had no idea what he was talking about. He said, it’s yourself. No one in the world is quite like you. Don’t try to copy anybody else or you’ll lose that one valuable thing that you can bring to the booth that makes you different.”

Three years after he joined Barber, Scully found himself behind the microphone as the play-by-play voice of the Dodgers during the 1953 World Series. That offseason, Barber left to become the play-by-play voice of the New York Yankees, and Scully became his permanent replacement with the Dodgers.

He’s never left. He called three perfect games, including Don Larsen’s famous masterpiece in the 1956 World Series, and he estimates close to 25 no-hitters. His memorable moments include calling the Dodgers’ only World Series championship (1955) before the organization moved to Los Angeles, Hank Aaron’s home run that broke Babe Ruth’s career record and Kirk Gibson’s dramatic World Series Game 1 home run that helped lead the Dodgers to the 1988 World Series title, just to name a few.

“Ever since I started, I knew that my dream was being fulfilled,” Scully said. “I’m doing what I really want to do.”

Still, no matter how the game has changed, Scully never considered walking away from the microphone, never considered doing something else, never once entertained the idea of getting out of sports broadcasting.

When someone gets to do what he was born to do, why try anything else? That’s how legends are made.

“The only legacy I insist upon is that people think of me as a good man, a good husband, a good father and a good grandfather, and maybe, at the end of that, a good broadcaster,” Scully said. “I understand what they mean when fans do ask for autographs, but to me, that’s just part of the job. I don’t think of myself as a celebrity. I’m basically a very ordinary man who has received an extraordinary opportunity.”

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