As noted in my piece about Vin Scully on Oct. 2, with my dad’s permission, I wanted to post his letter to Vin Scully here as a guest post. Well, I received that approval. So, without further ado, here’s the outstanding note that he penned on Sept. 22:
September 22, 2016
In 1958, I was 10 years old. That year, the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles and I fell in love with a baseball team by listening to a magical voice on the radio. It was to play a huge role in saving my life. My sister and I grew up in a rough situation. My mother had a severe mental illness and my father was an alcoholic. My childhood consisted of isolating myself from my parents and taking care of my sister, who is four years younger than me. I include this information for context and not as a sob story. At 68, I have lived a life filled with joy, family, and great friends.
However, in 1958, playing baseball and listening to the Dodgers were the activities that helped give my life balance, normalcy, and contentment. The Dodgers became my escape and my passion – and that magical voice my passport to so many things more important than baseball. For the past 58 years, I have eagerly listened to my entertainer, my mentor, my storyteller, my philosopher, my inspiration, and my friend Vin Scully. The games were always entertaining but the education about life that elevated each broadcast to a higher level made every broadcast compelling.
I have so many fond memories of the greatest games. I can hear the “big bouncer over the mound” in the playoff game against the Braves that propelled the Dodgers into the 1959 World Series. I remember playing pool in my garage the night the Dodgers handed Elroy Face his only loss (18-1) in 1959. I can still visualize Sandy Koufax, in Yankee Stadium, striking out the side in the first inning of the 1963 World Series. His curve ball that day is still the best I’ve ever seen. In 1965, I was a junior in high school when Koufax pitched a complete game on two days rest to win the World Series. I was in Spanish class that day, with a transistor radio in my pocket and an earphone running up inside my shirt, because my parents wouldn’t let me stay home that day. I was at Dodger Stadium the night Don Drysdale broke the scoreless inning record. Last but not least, there’s the greatest moment in the history of Los Angeles sports: Kirk Gibson’s home run in the first game of the 1988 World Series. I mark your broadcasts of these moments as milestones in my life because they have brought so much pure joy.
When I go to Dodger Stadium now, I always cry tears of happiness during the National Anthem because it is my cathedral and one place where I feel a true sense of belonging and contentment. From my son’s season seats, I have always been able to look up into the press box and see the man that made this all real for me as a child – and every year since.
Vin, I know from reading so much about you and seeing you interviewed, that you are a kind, humble man who feels blessed to have been able to do the job to which you aspired. I can tell all the adulation makes you uncomfortable. When people say that you are the greatest sports announcer of all time (which you are) they are being complimentary and kind. However, some of them miss the reasons why you are so beloved by millions of people in Southern California and around the country. It is not just your technical ability to announce a game. Rather, it is your humility, your humanity, and your incredible ability to tell a story (your D-Day commentary from this year being a prime example). It’s also your ability to be funny and profound, to know when not to speak, and how you weave all of these elements into a single broadcast.
To me the pantheon of sports in Southern California consists of only four men: Sandy Koufax, Magic Johnson, John Wooden, and Vin Scully. I’ve only met one of them. I had the honor of meeting Magic Johnson when he was the keynote speaker at an event produced by my son. I was able to speak to him personally and found that he was an even better person than he was a Hall of Fame basketball player. I truly believe the other three men on my list fall in to the same category. The massive outpouring of love being directed your way is because we all know that Vin Scully, the great announcer, is dwarfed by Vin Scully, the man.
Vin, I want to wish you and your lovely wife Sandra the very best in retirement. You have been my friend for 58 years. You have lifted me up, calmed me down, thrilled me, taught me the meaning of grace and humility, and eternally entertained me. Even though we have never met, I feel both a need and an obligation to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for everything you have done to make my life richer and happier. For my son Tom, my daughter Jenny, my sister Susan, we send you all our love and best wishes for a blessed retirement. This time the roar of the crowd is all for you!