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File photo of legendary Los Angeles Dodgers announcer Vin Scully.
On Wednesday night at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, arguably the greatest announcer ever stood behind a Commander in Chief-replicated podium, and for an hour in front of a packed room told 24 "only-Vin-Scully-could-tell-that-story-and-in-that-way" gems, that if put together could go platinum as a 24-track spoken word album that even Saul Williams would have to respect.
The best is story No 17, in which Scully talks about an exhibition game the Dodgers played during the spring of 1958 in Arizona. He calls it “the most important game the Los Angeles Dodgers ever played.” The way he weaves it, it is best for it to be heard in the video posted below. It’s at the 40:33 mark.
The 86-year-old is the Holy Grail of storytelling because he can drop a jewel like that one.
What's most impressive is that with nearly 70 years worth of yarns spinning around in his skull, Vin stiches a masterpiece every time.
A couple of other notables.
Story No. 2: Vin tells of being 8 years old, as he says, “which was shortly after the discovery of fire,” and realizing then that he wanted to be a sports announcer. He would sit under the family radio in their Washington Heights, New York home and listen to college football games. It wasn’t the broadcasters that made him giddy though, he says, above all, it was the roar of the crowd.
“That was the germ of the beginning of my desire. To this day, I guess, if I had a trademark it would be to call the play as quickly and as accurately as I can, and shut up and listen to the roar of the crowd. And, even to this day when that crowd roars I’m that little 8-year-old kid curled underneath the radio back in New York City listening to Alabama-Tennessee. The roar of the crowd has intrigued me.”
Then there’s story No.15. In the video, you can hear Scully get emotional remembering having to take the mic from legendary Yankees broadcaster Mel Allen during Game 4 of the 1963 World Series. Allen had battled a sore throat leading up to the series, and he lost his voice calling Mickey Mantle’s home run in the seventh inning. Vin had to step in:
“Tom Gallery was then the head of NBC Sports, I can remember to this day, and he tapped Mel on the shoulder and he said, and he pointed to me, ‘Be quiet. Give the microphone to young Scully.’ And it broke my heart because I thought, ‘Here we are on this national stage, this great announcer, at this wonderful point for him and for his team and he blows his throat.’ And, I was truly hit. There but for the grace of God go I. So, that’s another very memorable home run, only to me. But, it is a precarious high-wire act when you’re broadcasting and your emotions are going up and down and up and down and people rely on you. And, I felt so terrible for Mel that at that moment he had to let go of a national microphone. It’s hard to forget those things.”
One thing we won’t forget, is that Scully is, and will be, the G.O.A.T. -- the greatest of all time -- not only of storytelling, but of broadcasting, period.