Vin Scully, often called baseball’s poet laureate for his eloquent reportage in a singularly lengthy broadcasting career with the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers, died Tuesday, the Dodgers announced.
He was 94. The Dodgers did not provide a cause of death but said he died at home in the Hidden Hill section of Los Angeles.
“We have lost an icon,” Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten said. “The Dodgers’ Vin Scully was one of the greatest voices in all of sports. He was a giant of a man, not only as a broadcaster, but as a humanitarian. He loved people. He loved life. He loved baseball and the Dodgers. And he loved his family. His voice will always be heard and etched in all of our minds forever. I know he was looking forward to joining the love of his life, Sandi. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this very difficult time. Vin will be truly missed.”
"He was the voice of the Dodgers, and so much more. He was their conscience, their poet laureate, capturing their beauty and chronicling their glory from Jackie Robinson to Sandy Koufax, Kirk Gibson to Clayton Kershaw," the Dodgers said in a statement. "Vin Scully was the heartbeat of the Dodgers — and in so many ways, the heartbeat of all of Los Angeles."
Perfect games announced
Seasons in the Dodgers' broadcast booth
No other play-by-play announcer in professional sports history worked as many years with a single team as Scully — 67 seasons. Few, if any, approached Scully’s enthralling style, a pitch-perfect combination of keen observation and melodious flow.
There will never be another Vin Scully. You will be forever missed. 🎙💙 pic.twitter.com/WyTmXsati5— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) August 3, 2022
Scully’s ninth-inning description of Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax’s Sept. 9, 1965, perfect game, a gem of narrative detail, summarized his verbal picture painting. As that rare occasion played out, Scully — noting the exact time of night, the date, the score and defensive alignment — described how Koufax “fussed” with the bill of his cap and nervously “hitched at his belt.” Scully relayed to listeners that there were “29,000 people in the ballpark and a million butterflies,” that Dodgers teammates in the bullpen were “straining to get a better look through the wire fence in leftfield,” that, with fans booing a called ball, “a lot of people in the ballpark now are starting to see the pitches with their hearts.”
Koufax once said, “It may sound corny, but I enjoyed listening to Vin call a game almost more than playing in them.”
Broadcast colleagues marveled at Scully’s thorough preparation and the self-assurance to go entirely silent when the roar of the crowd could better convey the moment. And how, like no one else in recent decades, Scully flew solo in the booth, without the presence of a color commentator.
His silver-tongued accounts, somehow simple yet sophisticated, reached far beyond the Dodgers’ listening area during his almost 25 years of network television and radio calls of Major League Baseball’s Game of the Week, 25 World Series, 12 All-Star Games and regular NFL, golf and tennis assignments. But he long ago settled in Los Angeles — turning down an offer from the Yankees to replace Mel Allen in 1964 — and his favorite environment was baseball, which he called “theater, really. The star is the spotlight on the mound, the supporting cast fanned out around him, the mathematical precision of the games moving with the kind of inevitability of Greek tragedy. With the Greek chorus in the bleachers.”
Scully called three perfect games — Don Larsen in the 1956 World Series, Koufax in 1965 and Dennis Martinez in 1991 — and 18 no-hitters. He was on the air when Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run to break Babe Ruth's record against the Dodgers in 1974.
Vincent Edward Scully was born Nov. 29, 1927, in the Bronx and grew up in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, the son of a silk salesman. He was drawn to sportscasting as a child, listening to football games on radio — “There weren’t other sports on,” he said — and “getting goose bumps like you can’t believe.”
His high school graduation from Fordham Prep was followed by two years in the Navy, then four active years at Fordham University, where Scully helped found the school’s FM radio station, WFUV, was assistant sports editor on the student paper, sang in a barbershop quartet, played centerfield for the varsity baseball team and broadcast Fordham baseball, basketball and football games.
After a brief stint with a CBS radio affiliate in Washington, Scully was fetched by Red Barber, the venerable Dodgers play-by-play man who also was CBS sports director at the time, and joined Barber and Connie Desmond in the Dodgers’ radio and TV booths in 1950. When Barber and the primary World Series sponsor had a salary disagreement in 1953, Scully took Barber’s seat, becoming the youngest, at 25, ever to call a World Series game.
Barber jumped to the Yankees the next season and, by the end of 1957, when the Dodgers left Brooklyn for Los Angeles, Scully was their lead announcer. His status soared with the team’s 1958 West Coast arrival. Because transistor radios had just come into fashion, and because the Dodgers’ first L.A. home, the cavernous Coliseum, afforded many fans poor views of the action, thousands of spectators improved their experience by listening to Scully’s play-by-play, his voice reverberating throughout the stadium during games.
Besides the broadcast wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame, Scully is a member of the National Radio, American Sportscasters Association and California Sports halls of fame. He was voted the top sportscaster of the 20th century and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
October 2, 2016. Vin Scully signs off for the final time. 💙 pic.twitter.com/R85tgy1bHB— MLB (@MLB) August 3, 2022
Scully was preceded in death by his second wife, Sandra. She died of complications of ALS at age 76 in 2021. The couple, who were married 47 years, had a daughter, Catherine, together.
Scully’s other children are Kelly, Erin, Todd and Kevin. A son, Michael, died in a helicopter crash in 1994.
As his career extended into a second century, Scully often was asked how long he intended to continue broadcasting. His pat answer was, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your future plans.”
A subjective ranking of the signature moments from Vin Scully's 67-year broadcasting career:
1. Kirk Gibson's walk-off home run, 1988 World Series Game 1, Oct. 15, 1988
"High fly ball into rightfield. She is gone! . . . In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened!”
2. Sandy Koufax's perfect game, Sept. 9, 1965
"It is 9:46 p.m. Two-and-two to Harvey Kuenn. One strike away. Sandy into his windup, here's the pitch . . . swung on and missed, a perfect game!"
3. Hank Aaron's 715th home run, April 8, 1974
"What a marvelous moment for baseball, what a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia, what a marvelous moment for the country and the world — a Black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking the record of an all-time baseball idol."
4. Fernando Valenzuela's no-hitter, June 29, 1990
"Fernando Valenzuela has pitched a no-hitter at 10:17 in the evening on June the 29th, 1990. If you have a sombrero, throw it to the sky!"
5. The Mookie Miracle, 1986 World Series Game 6, Oct. 25, 1986
"Little roller up along first . . . behind the bag! It gets through Buckner! Here comes Knight and the Mets win it!"