“Hi everybody, this is Vin Scully welcoming you to the 43rd annual Phoenix Open, and to the Phoenix Country Club; 6,729 yards of beautiful rolling fairways and greens; rich, heavy trees and palm trees reaching up into a somewhat overcast sky — but indeed, a beautiful day for golf. And to all you folks back east and the Midwest, and wherever the weather has buffeted you to stay indoors, hopefully a few candid snapshots of the scenery here in Arizona, along with some fine golf will take your mind off the weather. Our minds right now are riveted at the story unfolding in the third round … “
We will miss the way he’s always welcomed us into the broadcast booth for every telecast. It was always a pleasant good evening, wherever we were when his voice entered our living rooms.
And that voice; we will miss its rich timbre, its soothing tones, inviting us to pull up a chair, because we’re just getting started with this one.
We’ll miss the way he not only described the iconic action on the field of so many World Series games, or perfect games or no-hitters, but also the way he described the mundane plays, the routine business of riding out a 162-game schedule; the minutiae wrapped inside so many innings. Those plays where if you blink, you’d have missed it. Or maybe you did catch it, but you yawned right through it, because who is going to remember a “little nubber” along the first-base line, or a a single that just squirted through two infielders (“you talk about a ball that had eyes …”).
Or how about a rally that fell short on a fly ball to the left-fielder, but the home crowd excitedly thought it might be a home run? Well, that would be “seeing with your heart, not your mind.”
Those are phrases no one else uses. Just him. That’s what we’ll miss.
Here’s a saying people around his age are fond of: They don’t make ’em like they used to. Just listen to his opening of the 1978 Phoenix Open. Poetry on the golf course. Soft and subtle, comforting and engaging. There isn’t anyone who could set the scene for that intro better if you gave him a thousand tries.
They don’t make ’em like they used to has never been more true to say that this weekend. He is one of a kind. But is it just because of his God-given talent? There might actually be more truth in how sports franchise run their teams today, and how they set up the broadcast booth. It’s now not only a two-man game these days, it can sometimes be a three-person spectacle. ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” crew has three in the booth and one on the field. Good lord, how much insight do we need? And how are we supposed to develop a relationship with anyone when all the broadcasters do is talk to each other and yuk it up for three hours? Often, a team announcer will leave a city for another gig. Consistency is hard to attain.
That’s why what he did for 67 years is so remarkable. The Dodgers allowed us to grow with him, inning by inning, game by game, season by season, until it was finally time to say goodbye. No one can touch his ability, but there are others out there who are capable of at least being great. There must be, so it’s a wonder why teams force-feed us something so counter-intuitive to what makes sports special. Do you remember the amazing analysis some former player gave 17 years ago during the fifth inning? And is that guy still calling games for your team?
There are, actually, some older gentlemen still calling games that would be just fine doing with the greatest of all time does. Marv Albert doesn’t need to be sandwiched between two guys for every TNT basketball broadcast. No one would complain if Al Michaels ran the show by himself for “Sunday Night Football.” What about the analysis, you say? The answer to that is you are underestimating the ability those men have at giving the viewer enough inside information, and severely overestimating the need for such in-depth analysis in the first place.
Too impersonal, too inside baseball. For 67 years there was an antidote for that.
Through every game of every summer, every bad loss and every great win, we didn’t have to search for something to hold onto. He was always there to talk, and when something breathtaking happened on the field, he was there to shut up listen right alongside you.
One man, one mic.
Just you, and him.
That’s what we’ll miss without Vin.