February 21, 2024

By Rowan Kavner
FOX Sports MLB Writer

Editor’s note: Legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully died Tuesday at age 94. The voice of the team for 67 years in both Brooklyn and Los Angeles, Scully retired in 2016. On July 19, FOX Sports published this story about Scully’s unparalleled legacy.

LOS ANGELES — If you’re going to Dodger Stadium, you’ll turn onto Vin Scully Boulevard to enter the gates. You can pass the Vin Scully Press Box on the way to your seat, where you’ll look up toward the left field section and see Scully’s name and microphone among the names and jersey numbers in the Dodgers’ Ring of Honor.

While Scully’s soothing voice no longer carries over the transistor radios and into the ears of thousands of Dodgers fans wishing them a very pleasant good night, his presence is still felt six years after he called his last home game at Dodger Stadium — one day the Charlie Culberson I will not soon forget.

Culberson cemented himself in Dodgers lore with a home run against the Rockies to clinch the division on September 25, 2016, ousting Scully in style.

It still gives Culberson the chills.

“It was meant to be,” he said. “This is how it had to end.”

Throughout Scully’s final home broadcast, Dodgers players tipped their helmets toward the broadcast booth as they walked to the plate. In the 10th inning, Culberson pulled the game-winning hit into the left-field stands, rounded the bases, threw his helmet in the air with two hands and disappeared into a sea of ​​teammates.

“Would you believe a home run?” Scully said into the air. “The Dodgers clinched the division and will celebrate on schedule. … What a moment for him to have — and would you believe it, his first home game of the year!”

A whirlwind of thoughts went through Culberson’s head as the fastball from Boone Logan left his bat at 104 mph. His home run was his first homer of any kind in two years at the major league level, and it came against his former team. He noticed his teammates running out of the bathrobe and the team waiting for him at home.

Then he hit him.

“It’s like, ‘Oh, wow, that’s Vin’s last call home.’ alwaysCulberson said.

The team celebrated and then stayed on the court, turning their attention to Scully. He addressed the crowd of 51,962 fans, who mostly had their phones in the press box, hanging on every word as Scully humbly said she needed them more than he did.

Pitcher Tyler Anderson, now the Dodgers representative in the All-Star Game, was the opposing starter for the Rockies that day. Even he remembers the weekend vividly: “Every bit of it. Everything.”

He remembered Sunday’s walkout as well as previous nights, including Kevin Costner’s adoring tribute to Scully on the field at Dodger Stadium. Costner expressed his gratitude for the Hall of Fame broadcaster, who for 67 years “found a way to put us all in the batter’s box, put us all on the mound.”

“In the end, he says, ‘All we can hope for is when Sunday comes, we get a little extra free baseball,'” Anderson recalled. “Of course, we play this game, it’s a close game, we go into extras, and Charlie Culberson, a former Rockie, hits a walk-off against us.”

Culberson had just 80 regular-season at-bats in his Dodger career, bouncing between Los Angeles and Triple-A Oklahoma City. His only two homers came on that memorable day and in the 2017 World Series. These days, he quips that he timed those homers well.

He also still gets texts from Dodgers fans telling him he missed or where they were on the field when he hit that home run. It was the biggest moment of his 10-year career, but Culberson knows the memory also belongs to the thousands of Dodgers fans who listened to Scully for more than six decades.

“To be able to have a piece with him, with his legacy and his career, is incredible,” she said.

*** *** ***

Peter O’Malley first met Scully in 1956, six years after Scully’s Dodgers career began when he was 22 years old. The Dodgers were going on a goodwill tour of Japan. O’Malley’s father, Walter, who owned the Dodgers at the time, asked Scully if it would be okay for Peter to room with him.

More than 60 years later, Peter considers Vin his longtime best friend.

“In one word, I would sum up the word ‘genuine’ for him,” O’Malley said. “With friends, with family, with fans, with people he’s never met, with people on the other side of the television, his credibility comes from being honest and genuine, along with his extraordinary gifts that weave the broadcasts and the TV stories, stories of personalities he remembers. He has an amazing recall to this day.”

Scully would recount the moment he encouraged everyone in the Coliseum to sing happy birthday to a referee. He told stories about the time he skated with Jackie Robinson in the Catskill Mountains and how young Dodger player Gene Hermanski came up with the idea of ​​having the entire team wear No. 42 after a threatening letter was sent to Robinson in Cincinnati.

It would also tell the story of a small, red-haired boy who walked past a laundromat on October 2, 1936, and saw the score of the New York Yankees defeating the New York Giants 18-4 in the World Series. The boy took pity on the Giants and became a fan — until he was hired by the Dodgers as a broadcaster 14 years later.

Scully would become the link between Brooklyn and Los Angeles, from Ebbets Field to Dodger Stadium, from Robinson to Sandy Koufax and Clayton Kershaw. Every Dodgers fan has a Scully memory that sticks with them.

For Dodgers team historian Mark Langill, that moment came in 2016. Langill had to take a picture with the Hall of Fame broadcaster and figured he should get some kind of prop to break the tension. Knowing childhood fandom, he thought a 1936 New York Giants replica hat made sense.

“He looks at it and says ‘Why is it blue?’ I said, ‘Well, they wore blue in ’36 and ’37,” Langille said. “I didn’t realize, as a kid, if he’s just reading the paper, he didn’t know. So he turns to his wife and says, ‘Sandy, let’s put it in a safe place.’

During Scully’s last broadcast, Langill was sent a photo of the hat sitting next to Scully’s scoreboard.

“In the fourth inning, he’s got a break, he’s telling the story, he’s holding his hat up,” Langill said. “He has Larry Baer, ​​the president of the Giants, and he says, ‘I bet Larry Baer didn’t know that, but Mark Langill did.’ You’ve got to be kidding me. I loved that guy when I was a kid, and he says this story on his last show. I still can’t believe this happened. It’s emotional to talk about because something like this happens?”

As the voice of the Dodgers, Scully didn’t need to exaggerate what he was seeing. He let every moment live and breathe — from Koufax’s perfect game to Hank Aaron’s 715th home run to Kirk Gibson’s World Series exit that led to his iconic call: “In a year that was so improbable, the impossible happened!”

It’s that call that stands out most to O’Malley, who won’t forget the aftermath.

“His wife, Sandy, is with us, sitting with my wife and I, and boom — the stadium erupts,” O’Malley recalled. “The game’s over and we’re waiting for the crowd. We’re not in a rush. We’re all excited. About 10 or 15 minutes later, he walks from his booth to our box and I can see him walking through the door now with that smile on his face. , I have never seen him more excited in my life than he was after that moment.”

O’Malley, who would later own the Dodgers, also remembers walking around the Coliseum and Dodger Stadium and hearing exactly what was going on by listening to the thousands of transistor radios tuned to Scully’s voice. Fans watched the game in person, but wanted Scully to recount what they saw. They felt they were listening to a friend. The rare format, with Scully soloing on the mic, played an important part in this.

“You felt like you knew him, even though you might not have,” Langille said. “You always got the sense that he was straight with you and that he was honest about what was going on.”

In 1976, Scully was voted the “most memorable personality” in Dodgers history.

“His credibility and the love for him, he’s in a class by himself,” O’Malley said.

*** *** ***

Culberson is a collector. Among his favorite items, he has an autographed Hank Aaron jersey and some autographed baseball cards from Kershaw. He also has the baseball from his daughter’s first pitch in Atlanta. After his memorable departure from Homer, he thought he would add to his collection.

With Scully’s final season coming to an end in San Francisco, Culberson went to the stands and picked up Scully’s autographed bat.

“We had a chance to catch up for a few minutes and that was pretty special,” Culberson said.

It was also special for Scully. Exactly 80 years to the day he fell in love with baseball watching the Giants score in the laundry, he ended his Hall of Fame career, honestly, in a game between the Dodgers and the Giants. In his last phone call he wished the fans a very pleasant good afternoon.

Six years later, on another pleasant afternoon, it was time for All-Star baseball at Dodger Stadium. And reminders of the legendary voice are everywhere — from signs to memorabilia to the people whose lives he touched every day.

“Vin Scully is the greatest of all time, of the era,” Koufax said when his statue was unveiled at Dodger Stadium this year. “No discussion. It is him”.

Rowan Kavner covers the Dodgers and the NL West for FOX Sports. A proud graduate of LSU, he credits his time as a sports writer and editor at The Daily Reveille for preparing him for a career spanning the NFL, NBA and MLB. Prior to joining FOX, he served as the Dodgers’ digital and print editor. When not at the stadium or watching sports, Rowan enjoys playing with his dog, hiking, running, golfing and reminiscing about the Mavs’ 2011 championship. You can find him on Twitter at @Rowan Kavner.

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