How Travel Almost Broke Vin Scully – Live and Let’s Fly

Vin Scully, a baseball legend among legends, died earlier this week at the ripe old age of 94. Like millions of other Angelenos and grateful fans around the world, I am deeply grateful to have enjoyed his beautiful voice for so many years. And there’s also a travel angle: it nearly bankrupted him early in his career.

Remembering Vin Scully, Baseball Legend and Personal Hero

Ask any LA Dodgers fan about Vin Scully and they’ll tell you their own story. Everyone has a story. Mine is not so different from so many others. My grandfather, a huge Dodgers fan (as long as they were winning), introduced him to me at a young age. Before every game aired on TV, we would listen to Vin Scully on his big stereo radio in his den and listen.

From an early age, I recognized his captivating voice and remarkable eloquence.

My grandfather would take my brother and me to Dodgers games and he would bring the radio, like so many other fans, and we’d snack on peanuts and listen to Vin while we watched the game. His voice was synonymous with summer and the innocence of youth and the ties that bind us.

Vin Scully brought together a diverse town. What always struck me when I attended Dodgers games was that the fans were just as diverse as the city. There were no blacks, browns and whites… just blue: Dodgers fans came together to support their team. Scully’s clairvoyance united communities and encouraged a more perfect union by modeling the virtues of benevolence, kindness, and a subtle yet powerful celebration of progress.

Like when Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1974:

“What a wonderful time for baseball. What a wonderful time for Atlanta and the State of Georgia. What a wonderful time for the country and the world. Black man receives standing ovation in Deep South for breaking idol record baseball of all time.

As I grew older, I increasingly appreciated his golden voice and his remarkable ability to make just about anything interesting. My adolescence was marked by a passion for the Los Angeles Dodgers. I’d come home from school, turn on the VCR, and play over and over my VHS recording of Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. give goosebumps.

“High-flying ball into deep right field. She left!”

And then a break. A long pause. The perfect break. So we could all take it and even from my living room 25 years after the fact I could feel the pulse of Dodger Stadium.

And then this:

“In a year that has been so unlikely, the impossible has happened.”

Yes indeed.

Something Vin and I shared

Unfortunately, I never had the chance to meet him. I’ve always dreamed of it… but time like a river that never stops rolling carries away all its threads. Scully was born in 1927 and began broadcasting in 1950, still aged 22. The early stages of this blog, then in podcast form, also started at 22 for me and in all seriousness I hope to be as long as Scully. Scully was a natural from the start…I hope to learn from him and others and grow better in my role as a communicator. But he saw his chosen calling as a high calling, like me every time I post a story with my name on it.

Wine Scully and travel

Oh yes, and the angle of displacement. Vin’s father was a traveling salesman. He died when Scully was only four years old. My other grandfather died when my father was seven. He also grew up without a father and I am so grateful that my father watched me grow up and is still with us today.

I wonder what would have happened, though, if Scully’s father had lived? What if instead of entertaining herself with the radio at night, Scully hung out with her dad? What if he became a traveling salesman instead of a sports animator? I’m sure he would have been a smash hit, but the world may never have heard his voice.

Scully was a man after my heart, preferring to just do his job (play calls) and not the mundane paperwork that sometimes comes with it. Early in his career, he almost went bankrupt because he repeatedly failed to fill out his expense reports. Reminds me of someone… *cough*.

Vin came out at the top of his game, something few people are so lucky to do. You never want to retire too soon, but you also don’t want to stay too long and somehow lose some ground (like dear old Lakers aired Chick Hearn, who’s another hero of mine but probably stayed on board a few seasons too long).

In his later years, Vin stopped traveling with the team, initially traveling only to the western states and eventually only to California. He’s also reduced the number of innings he’s done on radio…simulcasts are a lot harder because dead air is harder on radio (not that dead air was a problem for Vin, but that took a lot more effort).

It’s a reminder that we’re also going to slow down and should take advantage of our ability to travel now.

CONCLUSION

I am so grateful to Vin Scully and his impact on my life. Truly, he impacted millions, bringing Los Angeles together and elevating our discourse through his life’s work. By losing Vin, we lost a great treasure.


top image: Los Angeles Dodgers

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