Hall of Famer Vin Scully, whose sweet tones provided the summer soundtrack as he entertained and informed Dodgers fans in Brooklyn and Los Angeles for 67 years, died Tuesday night, the staff said. He was 94 years old.
Scully died at her home in the Hidden Hills section of Los Angeles, according to staff, who spoke with family members.
As the oldest single-team broadcaster in the history of professional sports, Scully saw it all and called it all. It started in the 1950s with Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson, in the 1960s with Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax, in the 1970s with Steve Garvey and Don Sutton, and in the 1980s with Orel Hershiser and Fernando Valenzuela. In the 1990s it was Mike Piazza and Hideo Nomo, followed by Clayton Kershaw, Manny Ramirez and Yasiel Puig in the 21st century.
The Dodgers changed players, managers, executives, owners – and even their backs – but Scully and her calming, insightful style remained a constant for fans.
He opened the broadcasts with the familiar greeting: “Hello everyone, and a very pleasant good night to you wherever you are.”
Always graceful both in person and on air, Scully considered herself just a conduit between the game and the fans.
Although he was paid by the Dodgers, Scully wasn’t afraid to criticize a bad play or a manager’s decision, or praise an opponent while telling stories against a backdrop of routine plays and remarkable achievements. He always said he wanted to see things with his eyes, not his heart.
Vincent Edward Scully was born on November 29, 1927, in the Bronx. He was the son of a silk salesman who died of pneumonia when Scully was 7 years old. His mother moved the family to Brooklyn, where blue-eyed redhead Scully grew up playing stickball in the streets.
As a child, Scully would take a pillow, place it under the family’s four-legged radio, and lay her head directly under the speaker to listen to whatever college football game was on the air. With a snack of crackers and a glass of milk nearby, the boy was transfixed by the roar of the crowd that sent shivers down. He thought he’d like to call the action himself.
Scully, who played for two years on the Fordham University baseball team, began her career working on baseball, football, and basketball games for the university’s radio station.
At age 22, he was hired by a CBS radio affiliate in Washington, D.C.
He was soon joined by the Red Barber and Connie Desmond Hall of Fame in the radio and television booths of the Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1953, at age 25, Scully became the youngest person to broadcast a World Series game, a mark that still stands.
He moved west with the Dodgers in 1958. Scully called three perfect games – Don Larsen in the 1956 World Series, Sandy Koufax in 1965 and Dennis Martinez in 1991 – and 18 no-hitters.
He was also on the air when Don Drysdale set his streak of goalless innings to 58 2/3 innings in 1968 and again when Hershiser broke the record with 59 consecutive goalless innings 20 years later.
When Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run to break Babe Ruth’s record in 1974, it was against the Dodgers and, of course, Scully called.
“A black man is getting a standing ovation in the far south for breaking the record for an all-time baseball idol,” Scully told listeners. “What a wonderful moment for baseball.”
Scully credited the birth of the transistor radio as “the biggest success” of her career. Fans had a hard time recognizing the smaller players during the Dodgers’ first four years at the vast Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
“They were about 70 rows away from the action,” he said in 2016. “They brought the radio in to find out about all the other players and see what they were trying to see on the field.”
That habit continued when the team moved to Dodger Stadium in 1962. Fans held radios to their ears, and those not present listened from home or car, allowing Scully to connect generations of families with her words.
He used to say it was better to describe a big piece quickly and then be quiet so the fans could hear the pandemonium. After Koufax’s perfect game in 1965, Scully was silent for 38 seconds before speaking again. He was similarly silent for a while after Kirk Gibson’s home run to win Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.
He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame that year, and also had the stadium press box named for him in 2001. The street leading to the main gate of Dodger Stadium was named in his honor in 2016.
That same year, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.
“God has been so good to me in allowing me to do what I’m doing,” said Scully, a devout Catholic who attended Sunday Mass before heading to the stadium before retiring. “A childhood dream that came true and then gave me 67 years to enjoy every minute of it. This is a big Thanksgiving day for me.”
In addition to being the voice of the Dodgers, Scully has called play-by-play for NFL games and PGA Tour events, in addition to calling 25 World Series and 12 All-Star Games. He was NBC’s top baseball announcer from 1983 to 1989.
Despite being one of the most listened to stations in the country, Scully was an intensely private man. As soon as the baseball season was over, he would disappear. He rarely made personal appearances or sports talk shows. He preferred to spend time with his family.
In 1972, his first wife, Joan, died of an accidental drug overdose. She was left with three small children. Two years later, he met the woman who would become his second wife, Sandra, secretary for the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams. She had two young children from a previous marriage, and they combined their families into what Scully once called “my own Brady Bunch.”
He said he realized that time was the most precious thing in the world and that he wanted to use his time to spend with his loved ones. In the early 1960s, Scully quit smoking with the help of her family. In the shirt pocket where he kept a pack of cigarettes, Scully tucked a family photo. Whenever he felt like he needed to smoke, he would take the picture to remind him why he had quit. Eight months later, Scully has never smoked again.
After retiring in 2016, Scully only made a few appearances at Dodger Stadium and her sweet voice was heard narrating an occasional video played during games. Mostly, he was content to stay close to home.
“I just want to be remembered as a good, honest man who lived up to his own beliefs,” he said in 2016.
In 2020, Scully auctioned off years of her personal memorabilia, which raised more than $2 million. A portion of it was donated to UCLA for ALS research.
He was preceded in death by his second wife, Sandra. She died of complications from ALS at age 76 in 2021. The couple, who had been married for 47 years, had daughter Catherine together.
Scully’s other children are Kelly, Erin, Todd and Kevin. One son, Michael, died in a helicopter crash in 1994.
Former Associated Press employee Stan Miller contributed biographical information for this report.
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