Scully talks Dodgers, reflects on legendary career
Legendary voice speaks on current state of club along with favorite all-time teams
LOS ANGELES -- The best part of this job is the people you meet and the relationships developed over the course of the years. To that end, it was an honor to sit down recently and talk with Vin Scully.
It's mindboggling to realize that Scully has been broadcasting Dodgers games on radio-television in Brooklyn and Los Angeles since 1950, a year before I was born.
"Sixty-four years is a long time to live, let alone broadcasting or doing anything," Scully responded when asked if it was even more mindboggling to him. "God has been very kind to me. I should be on my knees most hours of any day giving thanks. I got what I wanted to do ever since I was 8 years old. It came early. My health and the job itself have lasted all these years. You are looking at the most grateful person who walks the planet."
He's one of the best at what he does. But greater still, I've known the 1982 Ford C. Frick Award winner for nearly 40 years and I can safely say he's one of the nicest people I've ever met.
As a rookie covering my first game at Dodger Stadium in 1976, Vinny treated me with the same courtesy and grace that he offers to many a veteran scribe today. I've never seen him raise his unmistakable voice or have a harsh word toward anybody.
During the course of a 20-minute conversation, I asked him about his stellar career and the Dodgers of yesterday and today. You may be surprised at some of his answers.
MLB.com: Where are the Dodgers now from your perspective?
Scully: First of all, it was a very disappointing start to the season. The team they had in Spring Training, I think everybody said they were going to win the division. They should be in the World Series. Blah, blah, blah. Of course, the injuries really decimated them. Remember, 15 players went on the disabled list. They used the DL 20 times. So they lost a lot [of players] they expected to have. And there were several times where there might have been four backup players in the starting lineup. They're now together and the National League West is not that dominant a division. They could make a move. If they play well during this period of time before the All-Star break against three teams within the division that could tell us a lot about whether they will make a move.
MLB.com: What's your opinion of putting together these so-called super teams? It hasn't worked in Boston, Anaheim, Miami and Toronto and the jury is still out here.
Scully: Bringing up [Yasiel] Puig might have been the thing to pull it together. It's open to question and answer. I always remember when [owner] Tom Yawkey of the Boston Red Sox would say that you can't buy a pennant. So it's very hard to do that. The bigger thing is to fight the enemy of injury and no one knows the answer to that.
MLB.com: Your career has spanned the decades when the Dodgers built homegrown teams and went out into the market. Which do you prefer?
Scully: Oh, I like the idea of building from within. I believe that the Cardinals, 17 of their 25 players have come from within. That's one big reason why the Cardinals are such a marvelous organization. I think one of the problems for the Dodgers, and it's only a guess, is too many owners. If you went back to Peter O'Malley, OK. All of a sudden there were so many different people moving in, moving out, that no doubt affected every part of the organization. And I do know that this current management group is really concerned about the Minor League system. They know that Texas has a great Minor League system. They've spent a lot of money. The Houston Astros, as bad as they tell me they are, they've spent a lot of money on their Minor League system. And I know, I'm sure the Dodgers will try to do the same thing. I really think that's the answer for any organization to be successful over the course of many years and last as a winning team.
MLB.com: Do you have a favorite Dodgers team?
Scully: Maybe I would look back to my first couple of years. I was so young and so impressionable and it wasn't a bad team: Gil Hodges, Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, Billy Cox, Roy Campanella, Duke Snider, Carl Furillo, and the pitchers, [Ralph] Branca, [Carl] Erskine, [Don] Newcombe, etc. That might be my favorite team. I was so young and I enjoyed every minute of it as I still do.
MLB.com: That 1955 team finally winning the World Series in their sixth try against the Yankees, would that be the epitome of that era for you?
Scully: Oh, absolutely. I was very fortunate. I was doing the World Series on TV with Mel Allen and I was on the last part of the game. And I was able to say, "Ladies and gentlemen, the Brooklyn Dodgers are the champions of the world." And people said to me all that winter, "How could you have been so calm?" Well, the answer was I couldn't have said another word without breaking down and cry.
MLB.com: You had the same situation with Allen on national TV in 1956 when Don Larsen pitched the perfect game.
Scully: Well, the Larsen perfect game, let's face it, in those days we were somewhat intimidated by the local writers and columnists because it was still reasonably early broadcasting on television. And always they would knock the announcers for talking too much. All of us kind of backed off. When Major League Baseball established their network a few years ago, the first game they put on it was Larsen's perfect game. I was watching a football game. I wanted to see the MLB Network broadcast, but to be honest, I waited until the middle of the fifth inning because that's when I took over the game. And now I started to watch, but I was so bored. I was soooo bored. I'm young and I'm saying nothing else but ball one, strike one, foul ball. They had just enough equipment to show the game. I went right back to football. I watched something like three pitches. I have never again seen the Don Larsen perfect game.
MLB.com: That's hysterical.
Scully: Well, I don't know if it's hysterical, but it gives you some insight into this guy.
MLB.com: Is it true that in 1951, you were not on the air, but you were sitting in the box at the Polo Grounds when Bobby Thomson hit his famous home run to sink the Dodgers?
Scully: Yes, but I was actually standing. The old Polo Grounds had a horseshoe press box. It had a low roof. Red Barber and Connie Desmond were in the chairs calling the whole game and I was behind them. After Bobby hit the home run, the one close player I was with on the Dodgers was Ralph Branca, who let it up. A couple of years later we went around the world together with his wife, Ann. I was in shock at the home run and I remember thinking, "I'm glad I'm not on the air." It might have been a little too much.
MLB.com: Where did you develop the technique of being the single voice on the air that you continue to use so successfully today?
Scully: It wasn't really anything I developed. Red Barber always said he wanted one man, one voice. So if you listen to the Dodger games way back in the early '50s you would always hear Red or you would hear Connie or for one or two innings you might hear me. I always felt he was right. One man, one voice. When we came out here, Jerry Doggett and I were partners. He would do the bulk of the radio and I would do the bulk of the TV. Here's my point: If I want to sell you a car is it better for me to talk directly to you about the merits of the car or is it better to talk to me and another guy? I feel in my heart the best way is to talk directly to you.
MLB.com: And your point?
Scully: It has a lot to do with selling tickets. Sure, it's one thing to do the network. You and another fellow or two other fellows arrive like the circus. You do the game and move on. You're not interested in selling tickets. You're interested in entertaining, whatever. But when you're broadcasting day after day for a local team, the key is to sell tickets. And to me, there's no better way of doing it. No distractions. One man, one voice as Red would have it.
MLB.com: Well considering how broadcasting has evolved over the course of time, it's amazing they haven't asked you to incorporate another voice.
Scully: They've been very nice about it. You know, I've worked with other people. Certainly in the World Series and All-Star Games and the Game of the Week with Joe Garagiola. And certainly doing football, sometimes there were three of us in the booth. But in all of those games you're not trying to sell tickets. But here, we're trying to sell.
MLB.com: You've always been healthy.
Scully: I've been very blessed. My mother lived until she was 97. I assume I have her genes because so far so good. The longest period I've ever missed is a game here or there because of a sore throat or husky voice or the onset of a cold. I missed Opening Day a year ago at Dodger Stadium because I got sick in San Diego. Where it came from I have no idea. It's the sickest I've ever been. Maybe I missed a couple of days of work. Otherwise I had attended 62 consecutive Opening Days.
MLB.com: Everybody asks you this, but is it still I year to year thing on how long you want to continue doing this? You're going to 86 on Nov. 29.
Scully: Oh yes. I still enjoy it immensely. However, I don't want to stay too long. After the All Star Game, sometime during the first week of August, my wife and I will sit down and really see what we're doing. The one thing that really bothers me: there's a lot of fanfare about the job and the supposed glamour, but when you're married, you're leaving your wife alone a lot. Even with me not doing games outside of Arizona and California, that really bothers me. We're going to have to talk about it.