Monday August 08, 2022
Vin Scully (1927-2022)
I had a bad reaction to the shingles vaccine last Tuesday night—fever, literal teeth-chattering shakes—and spent much of Wednesday recovering in bed, but it was a good-news day so that helped. Alex Jones was getting his ass handed to him in a Texas courtroom for truly abominable behavior toward the Sandy Hook families; the Yankees and Gerrit Cole had their asses handed to them by the Seattle Mariners in a getaway game in the Bronx, 7-3; and Vin Scully died.
Obviously Vin Scully dying isn't good news, but it did mean I got to sit in bed and listen to him broadcast baseball games. Everyone was posting their favorite clips: the final inning of Sandy Koufax's perfect game; Hank Aaron's 715th; Game 6 of the '86 World Series; and Kirk Gibson's “Natural” moment off of Dennis Eckersley. A Twins fan posted Vin's radio call from the final at-bat of Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, and wrote, “Saddened by the passing of Vin Scully ... he was the master of describing the moment & then letting it breathe,” and I responded, “'Letting it breathe' is exactly right. He had all the right words, and then he stopped talking so we could bask in the moment, and then he had all the right words again.”
His death severed a rather remarkable connection. One of the first games he broadcast for the Dodgers, when he was a mere stripling of 23 in 1950, was an exhibition game against the Philadelphia A's, managed, in his final year, by Connie Mack, who had been born in 1862, just after the Battle of Fredericksburg. So just those two men connected the U.S. Civil War to the present. Remarkable. If you want to put it in baseball terms: Connie Mack began playing professional baseball in 1886, and managed professional baseball from 1894 to 1950, at which point, at that exhibition game, you can imagine him tagging off to Vin Scully, who broadcast professional baseball games another 66 years. So it's 1886 to 2016. That's the entirety of the sport, really. That's 130 years of baseball between two men.
I don't know if I had a favorite Vin Scully call—maybe Aaron's 715th—but I do love this quote of his that I read in Joe Posnanski's encomium. Joe wrote that we loved Vin for what he said and what he didn't say (letting it breathe), and as examples of the former he includes these lines:
- “Bob Gibson pitches like he's double-parked.”
- “Football is to baseball like blackjack is to bridge. One is the quick jolt; the other the deliberate, slow-paced game of skill.”
But the line I love is actually earlier, when Vin Scully is comparing Willie Mays and Hank Aaron:
“Now Willie ran with his hat flying off and joy just coming off him like sparks. But Henry, there was something regal about Henry, opposite of Willie, who was a sandlot kid playing with all of us. And, understand Willie did play stickball in the streets of New York, as I did when I was a kid. Henry was just a little bit apart. He was just a regal player from the first time I saw him.”
I like all that but I just love “joy just coming off him like sparks.” How beautiful is that?