[symple_heading style=”” title=” By Hans Laetz | City News Service” type=”h3″ font_size=”” text_align=”left” margin_top=”30″ margin_bottom=”30″ color=”undefined” icon_left=”” icon_right=””]
Vin Scully will call his last Dodger game before retiring this coming Sunday away from Chavez Ravine when the team faces the Giants in San Francisco.
But the real emotion at Dodger Stadium came at the Sunday game this past weekend when the legendary baseball broadcaster said goodbye for the last time at a Los Angeles home game.
Vin Scully at 1:05 p.m. once again opened with the line that millions of Californians could recite by heart and that we’ll never hear again:
“It’s ti-i-i-ime for Dodger Baseball, live from Dodger Stadium. Sportsnet L.A. presents the Dodgers, as they take on th Colorado Rockies.
“Hi everybody, and a very pleasant Sunday to you, wherever you may be. We’re at Dodger Stadium for the final home game of the regular season.”
He then addressed the crowd for about 90 seconds, followed by the playing of a recording of his singing “Wind Beneath My Wings.”
“I am terribly embarrassed,” Scully said after the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3 victory 10-inning over the Colorado Rockies that assured them of their fourth consecutive National League West Division championship.
“I was hoping that we would win the game 10-0 and there would be no tension and it would be a nice, easy day because I have a very, very small modest contribution on my last day,” Scully told the crowd announced at 51,962.
“I have always felt that you folks in the stands have been far, far important to me. You have given me enthusiasm. You have given me young at heart.
“Believe me when I tell you I’ve needed you far more than you needed me. I wanted to try and express my appreciation to all the players, God bless them, and to all you folks here in the ballpark.
“It’s a very modest thing. I sang this for my wife. It was a loving gesture. You know the song, ‘Wind Beneath My Wings.’
“That’s what you are. You are the wind beneath the team’s wings. You’re my wind. I know it’s modest. I know it’s an amateur. Do you mind listening?”
After the crowd cheered, the recording played, while Scully had his left arm around his wife Sandra.
The 88-year-old Scully has said his final game will be next Sunday, when the Dodgers will be playing in San Francisco, because it comes 80 years to the day when he saw a sign at a laundry in his native New York City reporting the score of Game 2 of the World Series that day — New York Yankees 18, New York Giants 4, that prompted him to become a baseball fan.
“It seems like the plan was laid out for me, and all I had to do was follow the instructions,” Scully said.
Speculating about what he’d do on the day after his final game, Scully said “maybe the first thing I’ll do is take my watch off and put it in the drawer and just think ‘I can do anything I want,’ which probably will be have a nice breakfast, read the papers, maybe take a walk and get a good book and read that book.”
Scully said that in retirement he’ll most miss “the people who have just made me feel so much at home.”
Scully’s 67 seasons with the Dodgers is the longest tenure for a broadcaster with a team. He has been the Dodgers’ No. 1 broadcaster since 1954.
Either on the team or NBC broadcasts, Scully has called such memorable moments by the Dodgers (or their opponents) as Kirk Gibson’s pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, Sandy Koufax’s perfect game in 1965, New York Yankee pitcher Don Larsen’s perfect game against the Dodgers in the 1956 World Series and Hank Aaron’s record- setting 715th home run.
Scully’s many honors include the Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually by the Baseball Hall of Fame to a broadcaster for “major contributions to baseball” and being named the greatest sportscaster by the American Sportscasters Association.
A ranking system devised by author Curt Smith for his 2005 book “Voices of the Game” determined that Scully was baseball’s greatest announcer, giving him a perfect score of 100, based on such factors as longevity, language, popularity and persona.
Scully said he would like to be remembered as “a good, honest man, a good husband, a good father, a good grandfather. I’m not even thinking about sports announcing.”
From the start of the game, Scully was saluted by players — who all tipped their hats towards the booth from the box at home — and the fans — who carried hundreds of signs and thousands of pictures of him.
Early in the game, the camera captured one child holding a sign that said “thanks, Mr. Scully, for a lifetime of memories.”
“Oh bless your heart,” Scully said. “You folks have given me a ton of memories I will treasure on this so-called job.
“I have never worked in my life.”
The broadcast returned from one commercial break with Sportsnet LA showing a picture of Scully’s predecessor at the Dodgers’ mic, the legendary Red Barber, in a New York radio studio with one Babe Ruth, a one-time Dodgers coach.
And he told a story about it.
Scully recalled learning how to call a game from the legendary Barber.
“I remember, Red saying to me, ‘I don’t want you to listen to me,’ but I was listening (to him),” Scully recalled of the experience six decades ago in Brooklyn.
“And all of a sudden my friends said, ‘you know, you’re dropping your Gs, and I said ‘what do you mean?’ And they said ‘you are starting to talk Southern.”‘
Scully recalled being a kid, and being given a free Yankees ticket by the Police Athletic League in the stands at the Polo Grounds. He remembered running with other kids to a commotion in the upper deck in right field.
“And like very other kid I ran over to the commotion. Arenado fouls it back, two and one.
“And there in the middle, and just the way you would picture him, polo coat and cap, there was Babe Ruth — not signing autographs.
“Two-two pitch, very high to Arendao, three and two.
“What he was doing was, he said ‘no no no singatures,’ and he handed out business cards, and on the business card there was his autograph.
“I got one,” Scully related.
“And I lost it.”
–City News Service