Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Voice ( A Tribute to Vin Scully)

For the passionate baseball fan there are many ways to enjoy the baseball experience. You can attend the game live, listen to it on the radio, watch it on television or stream it to your favorite electronic device. More often than not though we cannot attend the games and must rely on one of these electronic mediums to watch or listen to the game unfold. We then place our needs as fans to be entertained and informed in the hands of a third party. The third party of course being those men and women who are broadcasting the game live on television or radio.

These broadcasters essentially become our entrusted storytellers night after night over the course of the 162 game season. We look forward to their perspective of the action as it unfolds, and there are times that we hang on their every word.

Historically there have been many men and recently women who enrich the baseball experience for the listener and viewer by spinning their nightly yarn in their own unique manner. 

One man however stands alone in terms of service, longevity, knowledge and devotion to our national sport and its fans.  In this his 67th and final season as the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Vin Scully continues to entertain and inform his audiences about the on field action and the nuances of the game.

When Scully retires at the end of this season it will conclude a very long chapter in Dodger and baseball history. As a Dodger broadcaster he has been there for every World Championship, Pennant and Division Title. He was there in Brooklyn in 1955 when they beat the Yanks in seven games. He was there for Koufax's perfect game. He was there for Fernando Valenzuela and the mania that followed. He was there for Gibson's miracle blast against the A's in the World Series. He could easily write a history of the Los Angeles Dodgers because he has been there for it all. 

As for baseball, when he started there were only 16 teams. Today there are 30. There was a National League and an American League without divisions and the World Series began shortly after the regular season ended. Today there are six divisions and the post season lasts almost a month, sometimes finishing in November. There were no teams west of St. Louis. Today there are five teams in California and one in the state of Washington.  A great deal has changed structurally and organizationally throughout Scully's broadcasting tenure.

While the game has undergone transformative change for almost three quarters of a century, Scully's presence continues to bring needed consistency and stability for the avid fan. As a young fan I fondly recall his melodious voice calling the action as I watched National Game of the Week telecasts. His sunny disposition and knowedge always made the games more enjoyable.  I recall several friends commenting that it was as if he was singing the game as he was calling it. The more I listen today the more I realize that is true.

Recently thanks to the Extra Innings Baseball package I have had the opportunity to reconnect with the melodic sounds of a Vin Scully telecast. More importantly I have had the chance to share the experience with my son Peter who shares my passion for baseball. Along with the rich voice quality the thing that separates Scully from his peers today is that he provides both the play by play and the color commentary. 

Throughout the telecast he sprinkles in anecdotes relevant to both the Dodges and their opponents that day. At 88 this man still does his homework and is still at the top of his game. As a New Jersey native, I remember one late evening last season watching the Dodgers play the Reds. Todd Frazier was batting and Scully starts talking about Frazier's heroic performance as a pitcher helping Tom's River Little League win the Little League World Series in 1998. This further solidified for me the great respect and admiration that I have for the manner in which Scully approaches his craft each and every game. Clearly he continues to go to great lengths, conducting pregame research on player profiles, in order to establish a connection with his audience.

Three short months from now the sun will set on yet another baseball season and with it the end of Vin Sully's stellar broadcasting career. For the past 67 years Scully has steadfastly remained committed to his passion for both baseball and his craft. When the lights go out on the 2016 season, take a moment to tip your hat or raise your glass but be sure to pay tribute to this American treasure. This gem of a man who for the past 67 years has worked selflessly to bring joy to our hearts, by enhancing for us the thrill that only sport can bring.

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