Cubs pay tribute to Scully: 'He did it beautifully'

August 4th, 2022

ST. LOUIS -- Pat Hughes and his brother were not supposed to be on the Candlestick Park broadcast level, but that is where they found themselves as a pair of teens with a bit of rebellious exploration on the mind.

As they looked around, they found the booth occupied by Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully. It was between innings and Scully was in the midst of a live commercial for Union 76, working without a script.

"He did it beautifully," said Hughes, standing outside the visitors' radio booth at Busch Stadium on Wednesday. "And at the end, he winks. We thought, 'Man, this guy is really good.'"

On Tuesday, the news of Scully's death at the age of 94 shook the baseball world, which will be mourning the loss of the icon for some time. There are broadcasters who become the voice for a generation. In Scully's case, his legacy spanned generations, as he called Dodgers games from 1950 through his retirement in 2016.

Around the Cubs, manager David Ross began his playing career with the Dodgers (2002) and radio man Ron Coomer ended his playing days with Los Angeles (2003). California-born players Nico Hoerner and Patrick Wisdom grew up hearing Scully's voice, as did the 67-year-old Hughes (now the voice of the Cubs) as a kid growing up in San Jose.

Following Scully's death, a famous photo of him challenging Jackie Robinson to a race on ice skates started making the rounds again across social media.

"Incredible. And then the guy called games for Justin Turner, too," Hoerner said. "I'm glad it's a moment of celebration of a life.”

Jon "Boog" Sciambi recalled interviewing Scully for a pregame show for the Marlins broadcast during the 1997 season. Scully was born in the Bronx, while Sciambi grew up in Roosevelt Island in New York, so the pair were discussing their upbringing.

"The first thing he said to me," Sciambi said, "because of the school I went to, he went, 'Oh, you were much smarter than I was.'"

Sciambi let out a laugh at that memorable interaction.

"He talked about growing up and loving baseball," Sciambi continued, "and how they'd go out at recess, and they'd play stick ball. And the nuns would even play baseball. And I still can remember listening to the interview back and the way he said it."

At this point, Sciambi went into his best Scully impression.

"He was like, 'And the point wasn't that the nuns loved baseball, it was that everybody loved baseball.'"

Coomer was 36 years old and in his ninth and final Major League season when he returned to the Dodgers. He remembers being in the back of the team bus one day when Scully boarded.

"And what does he do?" Coomer said. "He walks all the way to the back of the bus just to welcome me back to the Dodgers, you know? He didn't have to do that. He was just one of the nicest men you would ever meet in your life."

Ross chuckled thinking back to being a Dodgers rookie riding an elevator with Scully. The former catcher was taking his Chihuahua out for a walk. The legendary broadcaster went to pet Ross' dog, who took a few bites at Scully's hand.

"He was almost biting his finger off," Ross said. "Vin, when you come up in the Dodgers organization, obviously he was a staple there and had been around a long time. ... It's a sad day. It's not too many days that the announcer of a team passes and it hits you in the heart."

Hoerner grew up in Oakland, but he remembers listening to Scully on the radio, as his family did not have a TV in the house. Wisdom was born in Murrieta, Calif. -- located southeast of Los Angeles -- and followed the Angels and Padres more than the Dodgers. That did not stop him from enjoying Scully's calls.

"When I hear his voice, I think of baseball," Wisdom said. "Obviously, you think of Dodgers baseball, but also just baseball in general. I loved the stories he would tell, the little jokes he had, the way he described the game, the way he described a play."

Hughes was asked what it was like to go from the teenager who snuck into the Candlestick Park press level to one of Scully's broadcasting peers. Hughes, who has called Cubs games since 1996, said the Dodgers legend has no peer.

"I would say he is, by far, the greatest baseball announcer ever," Hughes said. "And there's not even a close second. That's what I would say. He's up on a mountaintop. And we're kind of down in the valley somewhere."