Monday, October 19, 2009

The Voice of Heaven

It was brutal, last night's 11-0 Dodger loss to the Phillies.

I was listening to the Dodger feed on my XM Satellite Radio. For the playoffs, the Dodger Network is taking a page from history. You see, during the season the principal Dodgers announcers are Charley Steiner and Rick Monday. They share the announcers' booth beginning in the 4th inning of all games, and for most road games they broadcast the entire game.

THE Dodger announcer is, of course, Vin Scully, who's been at a Dodger mic since the 1950 season. At home and West Coast games, he broadcasts the first 3 innings on radio, then heads over to the TV booth. But in this post-season, we get to go back (in a sense) to the old days, when Scully had the mic solo for most of the game, with Jerry Doggett giving him respite for a couple of innings each game. For this post-season the Dodger feed is Vinnie for innings 1-3 and 7-9. It makes all the difference.

Growing up, Vin Scully's voice was in the background whenever Grandpa Hutchinson was around (his house or ours) and the Dodger game was on. His voice echoed throughout Dodger Stadium as fans brought our transistor radios and tuned to KFI to listen to him describe the game we were watching. Just a couple of years ago, as I was driving on a September Sunday afternoon, I marvelled as Scully kept his listeners entertained as a batter fouled off something like 15 pitches in a row.

Last night, as the Dodgers were receiving a royal shellacking, Vin Scully told it straight. No whining like the more "homer" announcers we have here in the mid-west. No harsh criticism of "bad decisions" by Joe Torre, his coaches, or players. Oh, there was no doubt as you listened just how badly the game was going for Los Angeles and how they weren't executing the way the team with the best record in the National League ought to be executing. But the story is the game, and Vin is a master storyteller, bringing in all sorts of background -- one story was of when the "Whiz-Kid" Phils beat the Dodgers in a one-game playoff to make the World Series, and he didn't need to mention that it was 1950 and that he was there in the booth -- to put it all in the proper context. Baseball's a game. A wonderful game, even when things aren't going well for your team.

Sadly, the 2010 season will be his last. Then no more will a ball game begin, "Hi everybody, and a very pleasant evening to you, wherever you may be."

There's a Facebook group called "Vin Scully - The Voice of God." That's not quite right. Vinnie doesn't speak and things come into being. Rather he describes what's happening, and you are there and you understand what's going on in ways that never would have come to mind. When Scully's announcing the world is right. Evan when the game is brutal. Vin Scully - The Voice of Heaven.


revalkorn said...

I think Vin won't mind sharing his job in heaven with Rick Jeanneret who announces Buffalo Sabres games. He's only been calling our games since 1971 (ONLY!), but I think Vin will appreciate a break now and then.

And of course, I'll never forget Vin on Meatloaf's "Paradise by the Dashboard Light"!

revalkorn said...

In case you're interested, here's Rick on YouTube.

Steve said...

I got to meet Vin Scully at Dodger Stadium when I was a teenager.

I was just an average teenager hanging out after a game looking to see some ballplayers and Mr. Scully came around a corner and stopped and talked to us boys for a minute.

What a genuinely nice man.

I grew up in the San Fernando Valley and have been listening to Vin Scully on the radio since I was born (I know my Dad had the game on).

I have been dreading the day when he would finally retire.

Baseball definitely won't be the same, and life will have been diminished a bit when that man is gone.

David said...

Vin Scully is truly one of the greats and we will perhaps not see the likes of him for a long time to come. Another great one is a voice from my childhood all the way until recently...the one and only Ernie Harwell.

Harwell will forever be THE announcer for the Detroit Tigers. Ernie was recently diagnosed with inoperable cancer at the age of 93. He said his goodbyes at Comerica Park during the final weekend of the season.

Vin Scully and Ernie Harwell. Truly two of the best!