With apologies to Mr. Scully, in a year that been so difficult, an amazing thing has happened.
The last 24 hours are the ultimate reminder of why we love the Dodgers.
It started around 4 p.m. yesterday when we first touched base with Vin Scully about how he planned to let the masses know he was coming back for 2012. Of course, that’s not the sort of secret that stays quiet for very long and you always worry that it’s going to leak out on its own. But sure enough, it stayed quiet and he found a creative and classy way to tell the fans directly that he’ll be back for another season. Immediately, Los Angeles was buzzing…14 hours later, he’s still a trending topic on Twitter and our Facebook post got 4,500 likes, more than anything else all season long. What more can really be said about Vin?
Shortly after that first conversation with Vin, we had another special moment. A woman in our department came up with the idea of having Fernando Valenzuela call Team Mexico before the international championship game at the Little League World Series and it was a memorable moment for both them and him.
Then, of course, there was the game. Trailing 1-0 up until Vin made his announcement, the team turned it on and not only broke out for a big victory, but Matt Kemp reached 30/30 faster than any other player in franchise history — which means faster than Raul Mondesi, the only other guy that’s ever done it as a Dodger. The fans went crazy and it was obviously a moment that Matt — or the fans who were here — will never forget.
The night ended with Friday Night Fireworks on the field (set to the Beatles music in honor of tomorrow’s 45th anniversary of their show at Dodger Stadium). And then early this morning, we invited our season ticket holders who have had seats here for three decades or more to take part in a photo shoot for the cover of the September Dodgers Magazine. It’ll be a keepsake and hopefully a morning that they’ll remember for years to come, too.
Making it all even better, yesterday happened to be the day that the winning bidder for ThinkCure spent the day trailing me in my job, so a wonderfully sweet young Dodger fan got to experience it all first-hand and meet everyone from Vin Scully on the day he made the announcement, to Clayton Kershaw, Matt Kemp and so many others.
So sure, things aren’t quite where we all want them to be on and off the field. We’d all prefer that we be right in the thick of a pennant race right now. But we’ve got the game’s broadcaster, best young pitcher, best young position player and the best fans around. I’ll take that any day.
For those who saw yesterday’s game from Vegas, it was Vin’s first game of the spring and from what I understand, he’s in midseason form. I guess 62 years of calling games will do that to a man!
It’s the perfect time to share this column, which he recently wrote for an MLB publication that just came out.
Baseball on Television
By Vin Scully
Technology may have changed the quality of television screens and the viewing experience for baseball fans watching at home, but there are a few basic elements still relevant for a broadcaster sitting behind a microphone.
Calling a game on radio is similar to an artist walking into a studio with a blank canvas, a lot of paint and a lot of brushes. You begin to paint the picture, the total picture. You begin to shade a little here and go a little heavy there, and when you’re finished, you put your hands together and say ‘That’s the best I can do.’
With television, the picture is already there. So the first thing, interestingly enough for me, is the audio. It’s a director’s medium, so what we do is follow the director. But the crowd is so important, whether you see them hollering or screaming in joy, or praying and doing everything imaginable. And it’s the same with players, not that they pray or anything like that. But you can see the various looks.
So where radio is the picture and presented by the announcer, television is the picture that is provided by the director. To me, silence on television is more important certain moments than anything I could say. So if you’re home and watching the game and there is a dramatic moment, it’s in the hands of the director. And the wise announcer kind of lays back and lets the director take the close-up of the pitcher or the hitter or the runner base or someone praying in the stands. That’s all part of the enjoyment of the game, besides the actual play itself.
One of the temptations we have today is like the song of the Lorelei, wrecking you on the rocks. So much is provided to you with statistics and information that you run the risk of looking down when a play is taking place. So you really have to be careful about that. Every game has somewhat of a story, an individual or maybe both of the pitchers. Someone is doing something that adds to the story. And then, of course, you can’t go overly dramatic in fourth game of the season with 158 games to go. But everything seems to fall into place in terms of the schedule, the game, where you are, the history of the teams. And they can get dull. Let’s face it – there are some games when nothing happens. And then it’s up to you to come up with a story or a historical aticidote to add a little spice to the telecast.
Even today, the sound of the crowd means everything to me. When I was a kid, I used to crawl under the radio and I’d listen to college football games. That’s about all we had in those days. I’d have the speaker above my head and when the crowd would roar, I’ve said it a trillion times – it was like water flowing out of a shower head. It would pour down over me. And I would get goose bumps and be thrilled by the roar of the crowd. To this day, I still get goose bumps when that crowd lets out some emotional roar. To me, without the crowd, it would be like going to a movie without the music in the background. It would be deadly.
We just got word that the Dodgers have once again avoided all arbitration cases with their players and signed James Loney, the final case remaining, to a one-year contract.
As you probably know, we always try to avoid going to trial with our own guys because the process is never enjoyable for anyone, so kudos to everyone in baseball operations on getting this done.
On a sadder note, we also got word this morning that former Brooklyn Dodger Cliff Dapper passed away this past week.
Dapper was a Los Angeles native who appeared in 18 games with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1942. He was best known for being the only ballplayer in history to be traded for a broadcaster. When Dodger Hall of Fame broadcaster Red Barber went on a medical leave during the 1948 season, team president Branch Rickey called Earl Mann, the owner of the minor league Atlanta Crackers, and asked for permission to sign Harwell. Mann wanted compensation for his popular broadcaster and said his team needed a catcher.
Rickey sent Dapper from the Dodgers’ Triple-A Montreal affiliate to the Crackers to complete the deal. Dapper continued his minor league career as a player and manager through 1957. Harwell left the Dodgers after the 1949 season, he was replaced by Fordham University graduate Vin Scully. Harwell became a Hall of Fame broadcaster, primarily with the Detroit Tigers. Despite the famous trade, Harwell and Dapper did not meet for more than a half a century until the dedication ceremonies for Harwell’s statue at Detroit’s Comerica Park in 2002.
Our thoughts are with his family and friends during this tough time.
When ESPN announced that it would pick up Opening Day against the Giants, some people wondered if this meant that Vin Scully would miss his first home opener since the team came to Los Angeles.
Worry no more. Vin is on board to play a role in the KABC radio broadcast on March 31 and will be in the house. Exact details of what innings he’ll call and any other role he might play in the ceremonies have yet to be determined, but rest assured, he has every intention of being here. And we’re planning a memorable ceremony that we truly hope our fans will enjoy.
For what it’s worth, when we mentioned the idea to Rick Monday and Charley Steiner, both were fully on board. As Rick put it, “It wouldn’t be Opening Day without Vin Scully.”
We couldn’t agree more.
Each year, one of the highlights of January is the Southern California Sports Broadcasters awards luncheon. The organization, which recently launched a website, has members that are a who’s who of media members and those in the So Cal world of sports. It was truly a room full of legends.
At today’s luncheon, among the attendees and/or honorees were SCSB Hall of Famers Vin Scully, Jaime Jarrin, Bob Miller, Tom Kelly, Nick Nickson, Mike Walden, Rich Marotta and Ross Porter. Others with incredible backgrounds include Charley Steiner, Steve Lyons, Jim Fox, Luc Robitaille, Ken Levine, Josh Suchon, John Ireland and so many others.
Lifetime achievement awards went to Bill Sharman and Louis Zamperini whose histories will blow your mind. If you don’t know about them, check out the links on each guy. It’s mind boggling. Al Michaels won the President’s Award and told a really funny story about being “groomed to replace Vin Scully” and 40-something years later, the odds are even that he’ll retire before Vinny.
Among the Dodger folks who won awards today were Vin, Fernando Valenzuela, Rick Monday, Eric Karros and the sports crew at KCAL/CBS.
Our sincere congrats go out to everyone involved in putting on this event and hopefully you’ll spend a little time looking through the site of this great organization.
If you’re a fan of the Dodgers, you pretty much grew up listening to Vin Scully and for many of you with summer birthdays, you’ve probably spent a birthday or two listening to him.
Well, today’s his birthday so please stop and take a moment to be thankful for all that he’s given us over the years. I hope he’s spending it with his family and enjoying a nice lazy day around the house.
And in other news, Vin will be calling games next year for a rotation now set with five solid starters, as Jon Garland spent his Thanksgiving signing with his hometown team.
Obviously lots of other rumors percolating out there and while I can’t comment on rumors or possible deals, I hope Dodger fans are starting to get excited about the team that Ned and his staff are putting together. We’re not yet at the winter meetings and they’ve already filled many of the “holes” in the team heading into 2011.
If you haven’t yet seen School Pride on NBC, be sure to tune in tomorrow night. Among the Dodgers who came out to speak to the kids were Andre Ethier, James Loney and Joe Torre.
It’s on at 8 p.m. (7 central time) and the filming of this episode was among the more rewarding things we did this year. It just so happened that it took place on the day Vin Scully announced he was coming back, so we even had all the kids yelling up to the press box “We love you, Vin.”
For a sneak preview of the show, check out this link.
Today, on Veteran’s Day, everyone at the Dodger organization salutes those who sacrifice for others to make this country what is is today. There are so many great things going on around the nation today, including a really exciting event at Dodger Stadium where members of the military will be taking BP, hanging out on the field, meeting legends like Tommy and Newk and enjoying a great day at the stadium.
Before that, we’ll head out to the Veteran’s Hospital in Westwood with Tommy and Vin Scully to spend some time with those who are there and thank them for their service. It’s all part of a larger program we’ll be starting in 2011 to honor the military.
The Dodgers Media Network (www.dodgers.com/dmn) has a great tribute video to Dodger legend Rick Monday’s proud moment of saving the flag, while Bill Plaschke weighed in this morning with a heartfelt column as well.
And while we’re saluting the efforts of others, it’s important to note that Joe Torre will host his annual Safe at Home dinner tonight in New York to benefit the great work that his foundation does to stop domestic violence, while Ryan Theriot’s inaugural celebrity golf classic is tomorrow in Louisiana to benefit three great causes (www.ryantheriot.com).
Plenty of people write features on Scully…few hit the nail on the head as well as SI’s Joe Posnanski did with this piece.
And thanks to everyone for their input on the last post…we’ll take it to heart and see what we can do for the blog next season (and during the offseason).
Hope to see some of you out here for the final weekend…it’s sad to say that, as we’ve all gotten used to the postseason around here these last couple years, but such is life.
What great news to start a Sunday morning…there has never been anyone like him and while I never say “never” when it comes to the future, it’s fairly safe to assume that there will never be another like him in our lifetime.
He’s not only the best at what he does for a living, but he’s every bit as humble and kind as you would hope he would be. Welcome back, Vin. We’re looking forward to a fruitful 2011 — hearing your voice and watching you “work.”