Sunday afternoon will mark one of baseball's most heartfelt goodbyes and the end of an era when legendary broadcaster Vin Scully will call his final game. As the voice of the Dodgers for 67 consecutive years -- a run unmatched in baseball as well as any professional sport -- Scully's
Sunday afternoon will mark one of baseball's most heartfelt goodbyes and the end of an era when legendary broadcaster Vin Scully will call his final game. As the voice of the Dodgers for 67 consecutive years -- a run unmatched in baseball as well as any professional sport -- Scully's consistency, grace and, most of all, talent leaves behind a legacy that will likely go unchallenged in the broadcasting ranks for generations to come.
The sheer amount of time and games (which surely number in the tens of thousands) that Scully has seen and spent in baseball can boggle the mind -- especially when you consider that the luminaries he first watched and spoke to when he debuted on WMGM radio back in 1950 likely leaves him (and, through his stories, all of us) perhaps only one or two degrees separated from the very origins of professional baseball. For an idea of just how much change Scully has seen in the game and, indeed, the world, since we first heard his voice on the air, consider the following (all stats through Monday's games):
:: Farewell, Vin Scully ::
• The Major Leagues featured just 16 teams in Scully's debut 1950 season. Six of those clubs (Athletics, Braves, Browns, Dodgers Giants, Senators) would eventually move to new cities during Scully's tenure. Two of them (Browns, Senators) went on to change their name completely, and another two (Athletics, Braves) would actually move twice during the time Scully called games.
Of the 14 ballparks that hosted big league games in 1950, only two remain standing and still host their teams: Wrigley Field and Fenway Park.
• Scully began as a radio voice, of course, well before he began calling World Series games for NBC in the 1980s and manning Dodgers games on regional television, as he does now. The first televised Major League game was broadcast in 1939 -- 11 years before Scully's debut -- with his mentor Red Barber making the call. The World Series would not receive its first coast-to-coast television treatment until 1951, setting the stage for Scully to call a record 25 Fall Classics.
• In 1950, the Brooklyn Dodgers placed sixth in Major League attendance, drawing a total of nearly 1,186,000 fans -- about one-third of the team's projected attendance in 2016, which finished at 3,703,312.
• A meteoric rise in player salary has accompanied those expanded gate receipts and television revenues. According to the Society for Baseball Research (SABR), the highest paid player in Scully's debut 1950 season was the Yankees' Joe DiMaggio, who earned a cool $100,000. While that figure would place DiMaggio among the social elite in his day, it equals just 0.3 percent of the $34 million salary paid to 2016's highest-grossing player, Clayton Kershaw, who has made each of his home starts beneath Scully's broadcast booth.
• The 1950 Dodgers ballclub with which Scully began his broadcasting career was a deeply talented squad that featured four future Hall of Fame players (Roy Campanella, Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider) along with Hall of Fame executives Walter O'Malley and Branch Rickey. The actual National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., had been dedicated just 11 years before Scully's debut.
The year 1950 featured the first Baseball Writers' Association of America vote in which no one was selected for induction to the Hall of Fame. That left the Hall's fraternity at that time steady at 50 members -- just a fraction of the 312 members that it consists of now.
An even more exclusive club in the Hall of Fame includes winners of the Ford C. Frick Award, which recognizes excellence in baseball broadcasting. That award would not be established for another 28 years after Scully's debut.
• Beginning with Robinson courageously breaking the color barrier in 1947, Major League Baseball was in a state of transition in Scully's debut season as clubs began to open up roster spots for African-American players. Still, by the end of 1950, just five of the 16 big league clubs had integrated -- signaling the mammoth change in the game that occurred during Scully's first decades behind the mic.
• To picture how much batters' approaches have changed through the years, consider this: Only two batters struck out at least 100 times in Scully's inaugural 1950 season, while there are already 126 batters with at least 100 strikeouts in 2016.
The Orioles' Chris Davis, who leads the big leagues with 210 punchouts, has an outside chance to double the total of 1950 strikeout leader Roy Smalley of the Cubs. Smalley finished the '50 campaign with just strikeouts.
• One thing that has certainly changed for Scully is how many pitching changes he's had to keep track of. Big league relief pitchers have combined to make 14,708 appearances this year, more than five times the amount of appearances relievers made in 1950 (2,769). Starting pitchers are averaging 5 2/3 innings per game in 2016, a full inning less than when Scully started.
Major League pitchers also combined to toss 997 complete games in 1950, while pitchers in 2016 have combined for only 81 complete games and will likely not reach a total of 100 for the first time in modern baseball history.
• Scully is also getting many more chances to perfect his home run calls in 2016 than he did in 1950. Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner paced the Major Leagues with 47 homers that season, which at the time was just the 19th time in modern baseball history in which a player had hit at least 45 home runs. In the past 20 years alone, the 45-homer plateau has been surpassed 70 times, and a handful of players have a chance to pass it again by the end of this season.
When Scully began calling Dodgers games, Babe Herman held the franchise's single-season record for home runs with 35 in 1930. That figure has been equaled or surpassed by a Dodgers player 17 times in the 67 seasons that Scully has broadcast their games.
Major League teams hit an average of 0.84 home runs per game in 1950, while this season we're seeing teams club an average of 1.16 roundtrippers per game -- a rate that would finish just behind the 2000 campaign (1.17) for the highest in history.
• A perfect game was just about the rarest event in baseball when Scully began his career. There had been just five perfect games recorded through the history of baseball -- and none since Charlie Robertson's in 1922 -- when Scully called his first game. Scully would be behind the mic, of course, when the Yankees' Don Larsen broke the drought with the only perfect game in World Series history against the Dodgers on Oct. 8, 1956 -- a performance that the Brooklyn broadcaster dubbed "the greatest game ever pitched in history" live on the air as catcher Yogi Berra ran to hug the pitcher.
Scully went on to call a total of 20 no-hitters and two more perfect games: the first by Sandy Koufax in 1965, a call by Scully that many consider to be their favorite, and again for Expos pitcher Dennis Martinez's perfecto in '91.
• The average age of the Dodgers' 25-man roster on Opening Day was 28.6 years old, which would date back to an average birth date of September 1987. The last player on a Dodgers roster who was alive when Scully made his broadcast debut was catcher Rick Dempsey, who was born on Sept. 13, 1949, and he played his last game in a Dodgers uniform on Sept. 28, 1990.
Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.