Scully lets Manny's bat do the talking
Hall of Fame announcer hushes after stunning pinch-slam
LOS ANGELES -- Ask Vin Scully about his call of the Manny Ramirez moment Wednesday night and, as always, he says the right thing."I love the crowd," said the Hall of Fame icon, now in his 60th year broadcasting the Dodgers. "After it was all over, I said that was the loudest roar I've heard in 20 years, thinking of the Kirk Gibson homer. And like that time, I didn't speak for a long time." Twitter and message board postings from Dodgers fans praised Scully's "call" of Ramirez's jaw-dropping pinch-grand slam home run, coming on Manny Bobblehead Night when he was out of the starting lineup with a bruised hand. Scully said the roar of the crowd "got me into this business. I would crawl under the radio with the speaker over my head and the roar of the crowd would come down on me like water out of a shower head." The actual "call" on the FSN broadcast reflected the suddenness of the one-pitch at-bat and Scully's classic understated style when faced with a packed house going out of its mind. However, prior to that he also built on the suspense of the developing game situation, with preceding batter Russell Martin's single so sharp that James Loney could advance only from second to third base. Mark Loretta, in the on-deck circle to bat for pitcher Chad Billingsley, was called back to the dugout while Scully and the crowd realized that it was Manny Time. Then Reds manager Dusty Baker replaced starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo, Ramirez's former Boston teammate, with Nick Mallet, the break in the action allowing for greater dramatic effect and a second introduction of Ramirez after Mallet had warmed up. "I remember mentioning the pitcher being in the bullpen, minding his own business, and they bring him into this," said Scully. "After he hit it, I didn't speak for a long time", Scully said, 51 seconds, according to FSN producer Brad Zager. "That put me around the Henry Aaron call [in 1974, breaking Babe Ruth's all-time home run record], when I shut up and let the crowd tell the story. The thing about Ramirez, it was like a bolt of electricity. It was something that couldn't happen, and it did. And the camera does such a better job. On radio, I'd be talking. But on television, we showed a million shots and didn't have to say it. We showed it, including all that was happening in the dugout when Manny got back in there, as well as him bobbing his head and being called out for two curtain calls." Scully said he learned not to verbally compete with the emotion of the crowd from the reaction to a Kurt Bevacqua home-run call he made in the 1984 World Series. "I shut up and they went crazy in San Diego. There was nothing to say," Scully recalled. "After that game, I don't know who it was, but they wrote, 'Vin Scully made the greatest contribution by not saying anything.' I took that to heart. Don't fight it or try to talk above it." Scully mentioned some of the most memorable home runs he's called -- Gibson in the 1988 World Series, Steve Finley's division-clinching slam in 2004, four consecutive homers in 2006 -- but said Mike Scioscia's game-tying ninth-inning blast off Doc Gooden in the 1988 National League Championship Series was probably the most stunning Dodgers home run he's broadcast. He compared the crowd eruption of the Ramirez home run to Gibson's World Series shot. "This time you had 56,000 in the house, it was the sixth inning, nobody had left," he said. "In the four home-run game, people were bailing out and I remember seeing all the tail lights turning around in the parking lot trying to come back in. "I got an e-mail linking to YouTube and a cell-phone video of the home run taken from a seat in Mannywood, with the crowd going wild before the pitch and the eruption as the ball heads out there."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.