On a day in which the Dodgers are doing their best to ruin humiliate the Giants — Lt. Dangle having already taken Barry Zito to, well, the truck wash — the L.A. Times’ Christine Daniels pays homage to Vin Scully, “his tenure an L.A. story unlike any other, providing a sense of permanence to a city perfectly captured by Steve Martin’s line in the movie L.A. Story’: ‘Some of these buildings are more than 20 years old!’”
Scully represents more than an era in Los Angeles sports history; he also represents an era in sports broadcasting when announcers were as indelibly linked to the teams they covered as the logo on the players’ caps.
When Scully was hired by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1950, his contemporaries included Mel Allen with the Yankees and Russ Hodges with the Giants. They were icons, with larger-than-life personas, as they served as the immediate conduits of information and news to fans hungry for details about their teams.
That was the template that served baseball for decades. Jack Buck with the St. Louis Cardinals. Ernie Harwell with the Detroit Tigers. Bob Prince with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Harry Caray with the Cardinals, then the Chicago Cubs.
Over time, that part of the job description changed. More teams meant more job movement among announcers. New media, such as the Internet, meant more sources for information.
By 2008, Scully might not be the last of the great baseball play-by-play icons; Jerry Coleman in San Diego and Dave Niehaus in Seattle remain franchise and community fixtures. But the pool is shrinking.
What has Scully meant to the Dodgers since 1958?
“Everything, with an exclamation point,” former Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley said. When the Dodgers first arrived in Los Angeles, O’Malley said, Scully was “the face of the Dodgers. It wasn’t the manager. It wasn’t a player. It wasn’t the owner. It wasn’t where they played. It wasn’t any of those things. He was the face and the voice of the Dodgers. And he made so many friends for us, then and now.”
More than just defining L.A. baseball culture, Scully invented it. For a city perpetually on the move, Scully became essential listening for harried freeway drivers who, once grounded, continued the habit with portable transistor radios — and today with audio supplied via satellite and the Internet.
“L.A. may be the most important radio market in the country,” O’Malley said, “because of people traveling in their cars. And Vinny’s impact on radio is major. We’ve all heard about the transistors in the ballpark, but that’s one thing that gets overlooked — the importance of the radio market in L.A., which has embraced and adopted Vinny.”