A class act to the end: Vin Scully retires after 67 seasons

When Vin Scully broadcast his first Dodger game, the team was in its original Brooklyn location, Harry Truman had not yet cashiered Gen. Douglas MacArthur, and in fact the Korean War had not yet started at the beginning of the season. Television, a medium which Scully would shortly master, remained a curiosity for many Americans. From that time until last night, Scully kept broadcasting Dodger games, putting together the longest streak for any broadcaster in any sport — sixty-seven seasons of excellence and class.

Last night during NBC’s Sunday Night Football game, veteran sportscaster Al Michaels marveled, “Has anyone ever dominated their field for that long — in anything?” No, but the time has come for Scully to put down the microphone and retire. As usual, Scully reminded everyone of what true sportsmanship and class looks like as he saluted his audience after the game. ABC News put it together in this video:

Since moving to Minnesota nearly 20 years ago, I’ve stopped following baseball except in the news reports, but I’m still a big Dodger fan — and a huge admirer of Vin Scully. This sounds like a cliché, but I grew up listening to Scully. I’d hide my radio under my pillow after bedtime to listen to he and Jerry Doggett call games from Blue Heaven (aka Dodger Stadium), and stay awake through the last refrains of “It’s A Beautiful Day for a Ballgame.” In the film Field of Dreams, James Earl Jones calls baseball “the one constant” in America. For me, Vin Scully is the one constant in baseball and in sports.

Several years ago, I got contacted by a writer who’d hoped to put together a book about Scully and was seeking comment from different people. I don’t know what happened to that project; it was probably eclipsed by Curt Smith’s biography. I’d still like to share with readers what I did with the writer for his unrealized project at that time, which is that Scully taught me the value of sportsmanship, fair play, and a positive attitude. In an industry with lots of “homers” in broadcast booths, Scully always called it objectively. When other teams made great plays, he’d call those with the same enthusiasm that he did when the great plays went the Dodgers’ way. He took the time to know both the home team and visiting players, and never had a bad word to say about either. Scully loved the game and the people who played it, and he made the rest of us love it, too — and him.

Even though I haven’t made baseball a part of my life for quite a while, his last call (and against the rival Giants, no less) tugs at my heart. A piece of my youth goes with him, but not of my admiration and gratitude for all of the blessings his work has given me and countless others. The silver lining of this cloud is that Scully will have time to enjoy his retirement, which he richly deserves.

Scully signed off by stating that he needed us more than we needed him. That may be the only call that I’d vehemently dispute with Scully in my 53 years. To Scully, I’d like to say this: God bless you and thank you, sir, and I hope you know how much you will be missed.

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