Sarah's Take: Scully's 2014 return is great news
Dodgers broadcaster has enthralled fans for 64 seasons and counting
When Vin Scully, the voice of the Dodgers, announced on Friday that he will return for his 65th season, every Dodgers fan rejoiced.
Many people dislike their jobs and can't wait to retire. At 85 years old, Scully still enjoys what he has done since 1950, when the Dodgers were in Brooklyn. He has excelled at his job, making everyone believe that he is the greatest sports broadcaster who has ever lived.
While receiving every honor a baseball announcer can get, Scully maintains humility that everyone wants to have. He believes he is an ordinary man who has been given an amazing opportunity. Anyone who has listened to him knows Scully has an extraordinary command of the English language, enabling him to paint exquisite verbal pictures.
Scully doesn't seem bored with any baseball game, even though it's doubtful anyone else on the planet has witnessed more games than he has. As a kid growing up in New York, Scully was a New York Giants fan who idolized Mel Ott. He dreamed of being a baseball broadcaster, often climbing under his parents' radio to listen to the Giants game and pretend that he was doing play-by-play. While doing this, he learned the power of the crowd reaction to an exciting play in the game, so he rarely speaks over the loud ovation, unlike many other baseball broadcasters. This lets the audience, either listening to the radio or watching on television, feel the atmosphere at the stadiums.
Branch Rickey hired the 22-year-old Fordham University graduate who had the slight experience of calling games for the Washington Senators to be the third broadcaster for the 1950 season for the Brooklyn Dodgers. As the third broadcaster on a team when no broadcaster worked with a partner, Scully had much time to observe another all-time great, Red Barber, who was immensely popular in Brooklyn. Scully developed his own style instead of adopting Barber's folksy style, but he learned the importance of preparation for every game. Out of sheer fear of embarrassing himself, Scully does more preparation for every game than any other broadcaster does. This preparation enables him to be impartial, and any baseball fan can enjoy listening to Scully.
While in college, the professors told Scully that no one should know which team he's rooting for. Even though he has worked for the Dodgers for the past 64 years, during most games, a casual baseball fan can't tell which team employs him. After I listened to many broadcasters for many different teams over the years, I appreciate Scully's impartiality. These other broadcasters don't pretend to be impartial, and sometimes they broadcast wrong information about the opposition because they didn't bother to do much research.
While Scully understands the importance of statistics to baseball, he doesn't overuse them to bore us. With the widespread use of computers making statistics easily available, some broadcasters, especially those who haven't played much baseball, like to use them without much explanation. Everyone can understand a batting average and home runs. However, many people don't understand what WHIP and Zone Range Factor are.
While longtime baseball fans enjoy listening to Scully's eloquent descriptions of the situations during games, the new fans, even children, can understand what he's saying. In 1958, when the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, Scully had the responsibility of educating new baseball fans about the sport. Before this time, the West Coast didn't have a Major League team. Despite having several Minor League teams there, people hadn't developed a keen interest in baseball before the Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants arrived. The people in Los Angeles were excited about having a Major League team and came in droves to the Coliseum to watch the new team. However, if Scully didn't educate and entertain the new fans, the popularity of the Dodgers wouldn't have reached where it is today.
During the lulls of the games, Scully tells fascinating stories. He often refers to history, classical literature, and pop culture in his vivid descriptions. This April, when Chad Billingsley was pitching with an elbow that probably would need Tommy John surgery soon, Scully referred to a Greek myth that illustrated the situation perfectly. By the way, Billingsley didn't start another game this year, because he had surgery the following week. However, Scully's reference to Greek mythology piqued at least one kid's interest in the subject.
According to Charley Steiner, a fellow Dodgers broadcaster who listened to Scully as a kid growing up in New York, Los Angeles doesn't have a bigger star or more beloved figure than Scully. Every Dodgers fan wants to hear Scully broadcast his 26th World Series. Everyone is delighted that Scully is returning for his record-setting 65th season.
Sarah D. Morris can be reached at email@example.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.