While there’s certainly not much happening on the actual diamond these days, many fans of the Dodgers opt to get their daily dose of baseball by taking a journey through the history books.
A very significant moment occurred on April 18, 1950. A 22-year-old Vin Scully called the first game of his illustrious 67-year career with the Dodgers, detailing Brooklyn’s 9-1 loss to the Phillies on Opening Day at Philadelphia’s Shibe Park.
Despite a stacked lineup, the Dodgers didn’t have much going that day behind the arm of righty ace Don Newcombe.
Lasting just one full inning, Newcombe registered the loss after surrendering four earned runs on five hits.
Righty Robin Roberts went the distance and posted the victory, scattering seven hits while allowing just the one earned run with four punchouts and one walk.
Scully is considered by many to be the greatest broadcaster in sports history. In 2013, he began his 64th season with the Dodgers, the longest affiliation ever in baseball. In August of 2015, he announced that he would be back in 2016 for a 67th and final season behind the microphone.
After studying at Fordham University, Scully served briefly in the U.S. Navy, where he was part of the radio communications program. He got his broadcast start at Washington, DC radio station WTOP in 1949, and caught his big break that fall when he stood calling play-by-play for a college football game between the University of Maryland and Boston University at Fenway Park.
Scully was noticed by Red Barber, who was the CBS network’s sports director, and a few weeks later, when an opening arose in the Dodgers’ broadcast booth as a result of Ernie Harwell leaving for New York, Scully was hired.
At 22, Scully worked with Barber and Connie Desmond. He gradually became the team’s primary announcer after Barber left to work for the New York Yankees, and Desmond became increasingly unreliable due to alcoholism. Scully first drew national attention when he worked the 1953 World Series in tandem with Mel Allen, the legendary voice of the Yankees.
Baseball fans know Scully’s voice instantly because of its smoothness. For many years, he was heard nationally calling the All-Star Game and World Series games for CBS Radio and NBC television. For NBC, he teamed up with Joe Garagiola for the Saturday afternoon Game of the Week starting in the early 1980s, while also being heard on World Series broadcasts in even-numbered years when NBC held the television rights. Scully also called NFL games on CBS television from 1975 to 1982, as well as tennis and golf events.
Scully was one of the last broadcasters to work solo. Before his retirement, Scully called the first three innings of each Dodgers game alone, with the TV and radio signals simulcast, and then continued for the remainder of the game on TV only.
Scully himself said that broadcasting solo allows him to have a conversation with the listener rather than a broadcasting partner, as this created a rapport with the listener that could not otherwise occur.
Scully holds records for most World Series as a broadcaster with 28. He was also behind the microphone for 20 no-hitters and three perfect games.
Scully’s final home game was on September 25, 2016, against the visiting Colorado Rockies. The Dodgers ended up winning on a 10th inning walk-off home run by Charlie Culberson. In doing so, Los Angeles clinched the NL West Division title.
The final broadcast of Scully’s career was the Dodgers’ October 2 game at AT&T Park against the San Francisco Giants. His commentary during his final game was simulcast in its entirety on radio, instead of only the first three innings. After the game, he offered a prayer and a final message:
“You and I have been friends for a long time, but I know in my heart that I’ve always needed you more than you’ve ever needed me, and I’ll miss our time together more than I can say. But you know what? There will be a new day and eventually a new year. And when the upcoming winter gives way to spring, rest assured, once again it will be “time for Dodger baseball.” So this is Vin Scully wishing you a very pleasant good afternoon, wherever you may be.”
In 2016, in honor of his final season behind the microphone, the Los Angeles city council renamed the street on which Dodger Stadium is located “Vin Scully Avenue,” officially changing the ballpark’s address to 100 Vin Scully Avenue.
On November 18th, Scully received the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House from President Barack Obama.