Vin Scully: A Baseball Icon Leaving the Game on Sunday

Make sure to set your DVRs on the MLB Channel all weekend long, regardless of which teams are playing. It is said that the powers to be, will break away from their previous scheduled games, of wild card adversaries, to bring us Vin Scully’s final games’ broadcasts. His play– by- play announcing, will be broadcast for all to hear and see.

In both leagues, there is a push for the 2 wild card spots among 3 teams in both the NL and AL. These games are the ones originally scheduled. Plus, this weekend will be the final televised games of David Ortiz, a future Hall of Famer on the Boston Red Sox, who have already clinched the AL East.

MLB, Fox, or any other local baseball channel, will be hard pressed to NOT allow fans to listen to the Scully, whose voice became known from Ebbets Field in Brooklyn 67 years ago, to Chavez Ravine in Los Angeles, once the Dodgers moved west in 1958.

I, for one, will watch all three final games between the Dodgers and their rival, the SF Giants. But I’m talking from a life-long fan’s perspective.

Tina, a good friend of my eldest son, spent her childhood in Los Angeles, listening to nearly all his broadcasts. In our latest conversation, Tina told me, “With him (Scully) retiring, his voice is a deep memory of her grandfather.” At this point, she was choking up with tears.

There was an even more special meaning, because Tina’s grandfather was a construction worker, building Chavez Ravine.

“I was 8 – 9 years old, and spent a lot of time at my grandfather’s house. He would bathe in the pool and we had Vin Scully on the radio – listening to Dodger games. Hearing Vin Scully on NPR (recently) brought back (the memories of) all the gin and tonics he would drink after work, with Vin Scully’s voice always in the background.”

Tina informed me that she was young enough to go to many Dodger games with her grandparents: when Ron Cey at 3B, Davy Lopes on 2B, Shortstop Bill Russell, and Steve Garvey, 1B, played. Scully eventually made sure all fans knew that these four players were the longest-playing infield in baseball history.

This is how Tina learned to love the game, period. And with Scully’s voice deeply encoded in her memory, she has passed this passion on to her son, Eli. Tina has taken him to 19 stadiums since he was 8 years old, now 13 yrs. He “fell in love” with the game, and played since he was three years old.

“Which stadiums have you been to?” I asked.

As quickly as I asked the question, her answer began. “The Orioles, Phillies, Nationals, Tampa Bay, New York Yankees and Mets, and the Marlins. And Atlanta, Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago Sox and Cubs, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and San Diego.”

When I counted her trips, I noted there were three more. Tina then went into another room to look at the baseball bats she and her son acquired at each game. “Detroit, Toronto, and Oakland. “ Eli’s favorite was in Pittsburgh with a ferry ride. Hers is Camden Yards where the Orioles play.

And Tina attributes this mother-son relationship to the conversations with her grandfather and of course, to Vin Scully. Her wish would have been to meet the man, but her grandfather could not arrange it. He ran one of the construction crews, period. She recalls going with him to watch Chavez Ravine being built, but that was as close as she could get.

At this point, she still hopes to meet Dusty Baker in Washington, DC, where she lives close by. He is now the manager of the Nationals. What would she tell him?

“That I saw him play, and listened to Vin Scully for years. And that my grandfather helped build the stadium where he first played.”  Tina holds out hope that a friend who does community work for the Nationals could possibly help her, going early to batting practice before a game.

We then wandered into a conversation about the state of baseball, the players, playoffs, teams, and of course how she listened to the Cubs with Harry Carey while living in Indiana.

I tell Tina how I have one female friend, Cris, with whom I love conversing on the major sporting news, players,  teams, Cris’ winning her fantasy football leagues, etc. So this time with Tina is a real treat for me.

Hearing her story brought back my own memories of sitting in my father’s taxi cab, listening to Jack Brickhouse, and remembering how he called the White Sox 1959 World Series, while Vin Scully called the games for Koufax and Drysdale on the Dodgers.

A lesson to be learned?  We sports fanatics pass on our love of the games to our children. And share our emotions on our sleeves, through all the ups and downs we endure. Apparently this has worked for me, after my sons got tickets in June, 2013,  on Stub Hub, immediately after the Blackhawks won game 5 v. the Boston Bruins at Chicago Stadium. My sons were in Boston to see Toews and company raise Lord Stanley, after the most famous 17 seconds in hockey history.

As I finish this blog, I turn on MLB. They are broadcasting the Dodgers v. the Giants tonight. 9 pm Chicago time. Turn it on. Watch him. Listen to him. Enjoy every second. I know Tina will – and probably crying with memories of her grandfather, with his gin and tonic in hand. And I assume, Tina will have Eli at her side.


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