Vin Scully was Los Angeles

It was Venice Beach, Pink’s hot dog stand, and the Hollywood Bowl all rolled into one. He was Los Angeles, the sound of summer, the poet laureate of the Dodgers—Brooklyn and Los Angeles—for 67 seasons.

We knew that Vin Scully wasn’t going to last forever. She just looked like she could do it. Even in her retirement, years after her last broadcast in 2016, her presence remained omnipresent and ethereal, like the ocean and the air.

“There are two words to describe Vin: Babe Ruth,” said Charley Steiner, the Dodgers’ radio play-by-play man since 2005 after moving west from the Yankees’ booth (2002-2004). “The best he ever did. Babe Ruth will always be defined as baseball. Vin will always be remembered as the voice of baseball.”

The wild ride that was Tuesday’s major league trade deadline suddenly and abruptly gave way to a heaviness in that night’s stillness, as the Dodgers announced that Scully had died at 94. The Life Cycle of Baseball Distilled in One Day: New Beginnings and Sad Endings Scully’s health had been failing in the past few months, and those who knew him well had been preparing for the phone call. But when he arrived, it was still a punch to the stomach.

“It doesn’t make it any easier, because we lost a friend,” said Rick Monday, a former Dodgers outfielder and longtime broadcaster. “Whether we’ve ever met Vin Scully or not, he was our friend.”

Like the best of friends, he was full of wonder, joy, humility, and surprises.

“When I was in college, I wrote for The Times, so they probably saw my byline,” Scully said eagerly as she began an interview with The New York Times earlier this summer for a story on Gil Hodges, as if her days at the Fordham University were just around a recent corner. “He Says: ‘Times Special Correspondent.’ I was under a false name. Anyway, I just wanted you to know about my literary background.

On another occasion, late at night after an interleague game at Angel Stadium early in the 2013 season, some members of the media were waiting for a press box elevator to go home for the night when Scully joined them to go downstairs. She was wearing a brace on her left hand and wrist, the result of a bout of tendinitis.

“I was telling someone earlier that I should tell people that I have become interested in falconry and that I am waiting for the bird,” he said with a wide smile. “That would be a better story, wouldn’t it?”

His instincts were perfect and his joie de vivre constant.

“He was widely read,” Monday said. “He also owned the English language. When you listened to Vin, you felt like you should go back to school right away. But he never spoke to anyone, ever. He was amazing.”

In what was one of his final public acts, Scully wrote a letter to the Baseball Hall of Fame Era Committee to support Hodges’ Hall of Fame candidacy, a letter that was said to be highly influential. But the ever-humble Scully refused to believe that she had enough clout to sway voters, and besides, she didn’t want any credit.

“Even when I wrote it, I crossed my fingers that it wouldn’t go public to the point where I’m suddenly trying to be the same spotlight because I didn’t want that at all,” Scully said this summer. “Yes, I wrote the letter, and as far as I know, it was true on all counts. But I don’t want to dwell on that at all.

“I am extremely sensitive now that I am retired. I just don’t want to do anything where it might look like I’m out of line.”

But Scully’s “place” was everywhere, a friend welcomed by all, beginning with her warm invitation at the start of each broadcast to “pull up a chair.” And for nearly seven decades, from the mansions of Bel Air to the working-class neighborhoods of the Southland, on behalf of the Dodgers, she has created an incredible extended family.

Monday grew up in Santa Monica, California, with a single mother who fell in love with the Dodgers when they moved west in 1958. Every time they were in the car when the Dodgers played, Monday recalls, Scully was his date.

“His voice was like a gentle hand placed on our shoulder saying, ‘Hey, things are going to be okay. Whatever happens in the world, whatever happens in your life, for the next three hours, I’ve got you,'” Monday said. “That’s the feeling we had.”

Millions of people experienced similar emotions during those 67 Iron Man-style years.

“I was mesmerized by this game and even more mesmerized by Vin’s voice and the way he presented the game,” he said Monday. “His description of him from the uniforms, the field, how fast a guy ran, how hard a ball was hit, a diving catch was made. When Vin was making a game, it wasn’t just about the plays of the game, it was about the pageantry of the game.”

Monday was the first overall draft pick in the first amateur baseball draft in 1965, taken by the A’s, who traded him to the Chicago Cubs before the 1972 season.

“So the Dodgers finally go to Chicago and my mom gets to watch the game on TV,” he said Monday. “It’s my seventh year in the big leagues and my mom heard Vin Scully mention my name. I said, ‘Mom, you didn’t even realize he was in the big leagues until Vin mentioned my name.’ She laughed. That made it official.”

The Los Angeles Times magazine in 1998 named Scully the most trusted man in Los Angeles. Eight years before that, the late legendary Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray argued that Scully was the greatest Dodger of them all. Little has changed since then.

“Vincent Edward Scully meant as much or more to the Dodgers than any .300 hitter they’ve ever signed, any 20-game winner they’ve lined up,” Murray wrote in a column published in August 1990. season into a miracle, but he knew what to do with it so that it would resonate through the centuries.”

When Kirk Gibson hit that home run off Oakland’s Dennis Eckersley to set the tone for the Dodgers’ victory over Oakland in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, Scully exclaimed, “In a year that has been so unlikely, the most unlikely thing happened! impossible!”.

For one minute and eight seconds, he was silent, allowing the roaring crowd from Dodger Stadium to fill the television speakers. The echoes continue to this day.

His sense of timing, history and timing was impeccable, whatever the occasion.

“He wasn’t just a broadcaster,” Steiner said. “He wasn’t just a baseball figure. He was a father figure, he was fatherly, he was a conscience, he was everything we hoped was right in the world. And most of the time, he was.”

Steiner continued: “Los Angeles is a city of stars. Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, whatever. For a long time I felt that Vin was the biggest star of them all because of her longevity. No one has done better, and no one said he sucks. She was comforting, fatherly, angelic. She had a brilliant and impeccable mind.”

After the game between the Dodgers and the Giants on Tuesday night, Monday said he was awake in his San Francisco hotel room until 5 am replaying the memories in his mind, alternating between smiling and crying. When he and his wife travel somewhere, he said he, his wife often jokes that the place wasn’t as good as the brochure. “Vin Scully was better than the brochure,” said Monday.

He recalled Scully’s last broadcast at Dodger Stadium in 2016, when the icon beautifully serenaded the packed crowd by singing “Wind Beneath My Wings” as the game ended. Utility man Charlie Culberson had hit a storybook home run just moments earlier. What’s easy to forget is that it wasn’t Scully’s final broadcast, as the Dodgers finished that season with three games in San Francisco.

There, Culberson had the now famous bat with him. When he wasn’t sure what to do with it, Monday suggested that Scully sign it. Culberson was shy, he asked Monday and Scully said it would be an “honor” to sign him.

Monday walked Culberson up the stairs to the San Francisco press box, where they met Scully.

“It was amazing,” Monday said. “It was like two kids in a park examining this magic bat wand. Vinny signed it, and they were about to say goodbye when he entered the booth, but the man Vin always said was the best player he had ever seen: Willie Mays.

“Charlie and Vinny were already in tears, then Willie came in and it was like one of those moments from a time capsule.

“And then we found out in the third or fourth inning here last night, 60 feet from where that happened.”

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