Legendary Dodgers announcer jumped at chance to call Opening Series
SYDNEY -- Baseball fans and Dodgers fans have been listening to the musical, knowing voice of Vin Scully for 65 years. If anyone's an authority on the game, it's him.
So hearing Scully rave about the entire experience of the Opening Series is a good clue that the first regular-season Major League Baseball action Down Under, and the week-long celebration of Australian culture that surrounded it, amounted to one smashing success.
"Everybody talks about the long trip from Los Angeles to Sydney -- 14, 15 hours, whatever it is, and another 14 to 15 back -- but I will tell you this," Scully said, "it is well worth the trip.
"The people in Australia I find to be extremely warm, extremely friendly and gracious, so it makes the trip absolutely perfect. Add to that we had great weather, a sellout crowd to see the first game of the series, and all in all, a beautiful, wonderful week here in Australia."
When it comes to knowledge and life experiences, Scully has long been one of the league leaders, so it's not surprising to know that he has already visited this area of the world, checking out Sydney, Perth, the Gold Coast and Hamilton Island on a previous excursion. That's one of the main reasons he was willing to endure the travel to soak it all in again.
"It's like a good wine," Scully said. "Even if it's only a sip, you're going to take that, and you don't want to miss the opportunity.
"And we thought it was historic for the Dodgers to play a regulation game here against Arizona, but moreso we were drawn to the city and … to the people. To see Sydney Harbour and look at the Opera House and the [Harbour] Bridge and see the regattas and so many sailboats. … It's just beautiful out here. I really love it."
Scully pointed out that you don't even have to leave the Sydney Cricket Ground to be enchanted by much of what the city has to offer. He spouted off knowledge that he used on the air about the stately old Members Pavilion, which brings to mind Churchill Downs racetrack, the site of the Kentucky Derby, and the statue of the cricket heckler known as "Yabba" that resides beyond the left-center-field wall that has been put in place for the Opening Series.
"Every now and then you'll see a slice of something here that really is heartwarming," Scully said. "It's just part of the charm here, and the city is loaded with charm."
Scully had a personal highlight earlier in the trip when he was charmed by a local citizen of the bush, a koala, at the welcome gala for the MLB traveling party at the team hotel. Perched on a rooftop deck overlooking the Harbour and the Central Business District, Scully was approached by a zoo handler and got the chance to meet the little guy up close and personal.
Naturally, the ensuing photo hit Twitter and charmed baseball fans worldwide within seconds.
"They tell me that a koala sleeps about 19 of the 24 hours a day, and this one was very content in the young lady's arms, so it was kind of nice to just stroke its back, and it was very at peace and it wasn't flustered by all the flashbulbs that everybody took," said Scully.
"I've never had a picture of a koala bear," he said, "so I'm looking forward to that."
Scully, most of all, wanted to communicate how thankful he is to not only be here in Australia, but to still be doing the work he loves and to still be doing it for the Dodgers.
"It's been a wonderful time in every way," he said. "A long love affair. A marriage, so to speak, with the game of baseball. A lovely association with the Dodgers organization, ever since 1950, and it just seems to get better.
"The ownership now, I really admire and respect. And one reason is they want to win and they want to win now, and they put the money up to do that. … I'm excited about most seasons and after that one stretch last year when the Dodgers won 42 out of 50 and the entire city just seemed to sit up and cheer, it was so exciting, so I figure this year will certainly be that way as well."