Scully's 10 greatest calls
Legend's voice resonated even on tales of dirt, beards and translations
LOS ANGELES -- Vin Scully's legacy may be his calls of huge, dramatic moments -- Hank Aaron's 715th home run, Sandy Koufax's perfect game, Kirk Gibson's World Series moment.
Scully captured them all eloquently, describing the play and then stepping away from the microphone to allow listeners and viewers to absorb the sights and sounds.
In fact, near the end of Clayton Kershaw's 2014 no-hitter, Scully said:
"Now it's his moment. What he does with it after 101 pitches, we are delighted to share the moment with you. Now if you don't mind, I'm going to sit back and watch it with you."
:: Farewell, Vin Scully ::
How perfect is that? Years from now when baseball fans and linguists and broadcasting students study this man, these big moments of history and anticipation surely will define Scully.
No artist could paint a more perfect picture than Scully captured at the end of Koufax's 1965 masterpiece. Or the words he used as Aaron rounded the bases after his 715th home run in 1974.
Still, to the millions of Dodgers fans who doted on his every word, the real joy of Vin Scully will always be found in the day-to-day work, the regular games where no history was made, no record shattered.
In those games, Scully was at his best -- warm and thoughtful, kind and funny, a perfect companion in cars, living rooms and box seats.
Scully's way of seamlessly weaving stories through every broadcast was unlike any other sportscaster, maybe ever.
Topics? He had a few.
One night, it was the history of Friday the 13th when discussing ballplayer superstitions.
Or the dirt on a baseball diamond, where it came from and why it was special.
Some dirt history, too.
Think it wasn't interesting? Guess again.
Scully's departure from the Dodgers broadcasting booth at the end of this, his 67th and final season, will last in our hearts and minds forever.
He elevated the broadcasting of baseball games to an art form. All of us have our favorite moments.
As Scully prepares for his final game at Dodger Stadium on Sunday, with his final game ever a week after in San Francisco, here is a look back at 10 of his calls that stand the test of time:
Koufax's perfect game
"So Harvey Kuenn is batting for Bob Hendley. The time on the scoreboard is 9:44. The date, September the 9th, 1965, and Koufax working on veteran Harvey Kuenn.
"Sandy into his windup and the pitch, a fastball for a strike! He has struck out, by the way, five consecutive batters, and that's gone unnoticed.
"Sandy ready, and the strike 1 pitch: very high, and he lost his hat. He really forced that one. That's only the second time tonight where I have had the feeling that Sandy threw instead of pitched, trying to get that little extra, and that time he tried so hard his hat fell off -- he took an extremely long stride to the plate -- and Torborg had to go up to get it.
"One and one to Harvey Kuenn. Now he's ready: fastball, high, ball 2. You can't blame a man for pushing just a little bit now. Sandy backs off, mops his forehead, runs his left index finger along his forehead, dries it off on his left pants leg. All the while Kuenn just waiting. Now Sandy looks in. Into his windup and the 2-1 pitch to Kuenn: swung on and missed, strike 2!
"It is 9:46 p.m.
"Two and 2 to Harvey Kuenn, one strike away. Sandy into his windup, here's the pitch:
"Swung on and missed, a perfect game!"
Scully said nothing for 38 seconds before resuming:
"On the scoreboard in right field, it is 9:46 p.m. in the City of the Angels, Los Angeles, California. And a crowd of 29,139 just sitting in to see the only pitcher in baseball history to hurl four no-hit, no-run games…
"Sandy Koufax, whose name will always remind you of strikeouts, did it with a flourish. He struck out the last six consecutive batters. So when he wrote his name in capital letters in the record book, that 'K' stands out more than the 'oufax."
Henry Aaron breaks Babe Ruth's all-time home run record
"What a marvelous moment for baseball, what a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia, what a marvelous moment for the country and the world. A black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol. And it is a great moment for all of us, and particularly for Henry Aaron."
Game 6, 1986 World Series, Red Sox-Mets
Scully was prepared to describe the Red Sox celebrating their first World Series championship in 68 years. In an instant, it went away.
"Two outs, three and two to Mookie Wilson. Little roller up along first. Behind the bag. It gets through Buckner! Here comes Knight, and the Mets win it."
Injured Kirk Gibson's home run to win Game 1 of the 1988 World Series
In the clubhouse, Gibson had heard Scully say he wasn't in the dugout and wouldn't be in this game. Gibson grabbed a bat and decided otherwise.
"And look who's coming up… High fly ball into right field. She is gone!"
Scully goes quiet for a long pause as the crowd roars and Gibson circles the bases.
"In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened."
Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series
As the inning began, Scully said: "Well, all right, let's all take a deep breath as we go to the most dramatic ninth inning in the history of baseball."
He said Yankee Stadium was "shivering in its concrete foundation."
When Larsen struck out Dale Mitchell to end it, Scully simply did his job.
"Got him! The greatest game ever pitched in baseball history by Don Larsen, a no-hitter, a perfect game in a World Series.
"Never in the history of the game has it ever happened in a World Series. Don Larsen pitches a perfect game, retiring 27 Dodgers in a row.
"When you put it in a World Series, you set the biggest diamond in the biggest ring."
"One out to go. One miserable measly out."
When television cameras showed Kershaw's nervous wife, Ellen, Scully worked her into the play-by-play:
"Hang in there, Ellen."
Later when Kershaw got the no-hitter and Ellen joined her husband on the field, Scully said:
"And when it's all said and done, escape all the noise, and talk about a dream come true with his wife Ellen.
"Big moment in a young life."
Rockies manager Jim Tracy's tantrum to umpires
This one won't make many best of lists, but it's Scully as his best cleaning up the manager's language with humor and precision:
"He caught the ball, Jim said. He caught the blinking ball. He caught the darn ball….
"That is blinkin' fertilizer.
"I'm doing my best to translate.
"You gotta be blinking me.
"No blinking way.
"No bloody way."
From a 2006 Dodgers-Padres game
"It has been a Friday night and a Saturday night combined emotionally, but now it's starting to feel like Monday…
"The Dodgers are asked to do what they did [before], but they've run out of innings."
When J.D. Drew homered, Scully summed it up:
"What is that line? Do not go gentle into that good night. The Dodgers have decided they're not going to go into that night without howling and kicking."
"Looking at Clayton Kershaw's uniform with all the dirt on it reminds us of the importance of dirt ... Umpires get a certain dirt, and they rub the new balls before putting them in the game.
"Back in 1916, the Yankees were playing in the Polo Grounds, and whenever the Washington Senators came to New York to play the Yankees -- do you believe? -- they brought their own dirt .
"They would bring their own dirt to dry their hands. They claimed the soil around home plate at the Polo Grounds was trick dirt. Have you ever heard of trick dirt? ...
"Fastball banged into right field, base hit ...
"To conclude the thought, the Washington Senators, as they were then called, said that instead of drying the moisture on their hands, the dirt in the Polo Grounds made their hands slippery and the ball and bats harder to handle. How about that?"
As cameras panned the dugouts and field showing several players with beards, Scully said:
"If you've been looking at players with these big beards, I decided to do a little research on beards. Way back to the dawn of humanity, beards evolved because ladies liked them. No. 2, it was the idea of frightening off adversaries and wild animals. In fact, it was so serious there was a divine mandate for beards in Leviticus and Deuteronomy."
Bonus call (No, 11): Pearl Harbor Day
"I was 14, and it was the only time I ever hard my father swear. I was listening to a football game.
"And the count goes to one and two.
"They interrupted the game to say that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. I went into the kitchen where my mom and dad were having their usual cup of tea at that time of the day.
"I asked my dad, 'Where is Pearl Harbor?' He let out an expletive, which was really shocking. He never swore. He just said simply, 'That's war.'"