Imagine this: Thirty-six years ago, Vin Scully mused about his death in The Sporting News.
Scully, who died Tuesday at 94, said: “Being Irish, being Catholic, from the first day I can remember, I was told about death. Death is a constant companion in our religion. You live with it easily; it is not a morbid thought.
“That has given me the perspective that whatever I have can disappear in 30 seconds. And being out on the road as much as I am, I realize I am killing the most precious thing I have — time. You never know how much of it you have left.”
Turns out, a tribute to his faith perhaps and definitely a testament to our good fortune, Scully had a lot of life left to live as he spoke that summer of 1986.
Because his life’s work was baseball, Scully and The Sporting News have been intertwined since the early 1950s.
In 1953, after he had called his first World Series for a national audience, The Sporting News noted that he was only a few years out of Fordham University.
Two years later, Scully described in TSN how he broke in to the sportscasting business in a TV/Radio column:
HOW I BROKE IN DEPT.: Vin Scully, who helps broadcast Dodger games: “I got my my first break by filling in for a sick announcer on the CBS Football Roundup as a last-minute replacement. I had no booth and almost froze to death on the roof of Fenway Park doing the Maryland-Boston University thriller in 1949.
“Fortunately, Red Barber liked it, assigned me the following week to Harvard-Yale. When the football season ended, Ernie Harwell switched from Brooklyn to the Giants, and I had my chance as the Dodgers’ third announcer. At 22, I was the youngest and happiest fellow in the business.
“I was convinced at the outset that anything can happen with the Dodgers. In my first actual play-by-play with the Dodgers, the Philadelphia Athletics pulled off a triple play during an exhibition game at West Palm Beach, Fla. I knew then and there that, win or lose, the Brooklyn games wouldn’t be dull.”
With Scully on the call, how could they be?
“He is without peer at making 9-0 games something you want to hang around and see how they come out,” Hall of Fame sportswriter Jim Murray wrote in The Sporting News in 1970.
TSN Archives: Scully Is Dodgers’ MVP (Jan. 10, 1970, issue)
Murray also pointed out that Scully could be credited with helping smooth the Dodgers’ move to Los Angeles.
“He was the catalyst in the thorny mixed-marriage of Brooklyn and Los Angeles in the difficult year of adjustment (1958) when the Dodgers, psyched out by a ballpark that looked like the world’s biggest bathtub and a lot of fans who pronounced their “r’s” and didn’t shout ‘Youse bums’ at every error, finished seventh. Scully was almost the only thing certifiably major league about the Dodgers that year. No matter where the team finished, Scully leads HIS league.”
Year in and year out, there was Dodger baseball and there was Vin Scully. Some might say Vin Scully was Dodger baseball.
His television announcing career, The Sporting News noted in 1990, spanned a wide sports spectrum, from Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard Round the World” in 1951 to Kirk Gibson’s stirring pinch-hit home run in the 1988 World Series and beyond.
During the interim, Scully had:
• Broadcast 13 baseball no-hitters and two perfect games.
• Called “The Catch,” the six-yard touchdown pass from Joe Montana to Dwight Clark with 51 seconds left in the 1981 NFC championship game that lifted the San Francisco 49ers to a 28-27 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
• Witnessed five holes-in-one on camera and described golf victories in the Masters by Jack Nicklaus, Raymond Floyd, Tom Watson (twice), Gary Player, Fuzzy Zoeller, Seve Ballesteros and Craig Stadler.
Now think about this: That was in 1990. Scully would be behind the microphone for 26 more years, noting records, milestones and more.
At the height of his career, Scully was calling some 190 baseball games a year, along with sundry other national-TV duties. All that travel. All those interviews. All that pregame preparation.
Why, The Sporting News asked in the mid-1980s, wouldn’t he just kick back with his wife, Sandi, and the kids at home outside Los Angeles?
“Because after all these years,” Scully said, “when I hear the roar of the crowd, I still get goosebumps.”