Thursday, June 03, 2010

'Vin'tage Voice Continues to Announce Its Virtuosity, Play-by-Play

As anyone who has paid attention to this blog, even sporadically, over the past 6 months, should realize, I have a great appreciation for people who are masters of their craft--in a wide variety of genres.

From Sonny Rollins to Stephen Sondheim, Raphael to Frank Lloyd Wright and Buddy Guy to Bono, I tried to share my passion for people I consider among my creative heroes.

Today I would like to use a few words to celebrate someone who remains better than anyone else at what he does, even after 60 years of doing it.

At 82, Vin Scully is still the best baseball announcer I've ever heard. And while I obviously haven't heard everybody who's ever called a ballgame, it is with tremendous admiration for late legends like Ernie Harwell, Jack Buck, Harry Caray, Harry Kalas and Curt Gowdy that I would presume Scully to be the best announcer who's ever lived.

Although he's called over 10,000 baseball games and other sporting events, I haven't really heard him all that often, as he's the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers (and even during my three years in LA in the early '90s, I didn't watch or listen to many Dodger games).

But this past Monday, during Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, when I was channel surfing during breaks in the hockey game, I came across a Dodgers-Diamondbacks game being carried on the MLB Network. Vin Scully was doing the play-by-play, and as seems to be his custom, was not accompanied by a color analyst. He was amazing to listen to, even for just a few minutes as he called a mundane middle inning.

Then yesterday, when I had already decided to write a tribute, I discovered the MLB Network was carrying another Dodgers-Dbacks game. I started watching in the 5th inning and, although I could really care less about the game's outcome, I watched until the scoreless tie was won by the Dodgers in the bottom of the 14th inning.

Listening to Scully was like listening to a symphony. He is just that good; always keeping you informed of the action on the field, while subtly yet meticulously painting the picture that surrounds it. And again, at age 82, he's calling 14 inning games with no partner and no breaks.

I can't find video that I can repost here, but here is a link to his call of yesterday's game-ending play. What happens isn't even all that dramatic, but there is just such an elegance to Scully's call. Similarly, here's his call of a walk-off homer from the night before.

According to his Wikipedia entry, Scully started calling baseball games in 1950--following Harwell into the Brooklyn Dodgers' radio booth, after Harwell left to work handle NY Giants games--and also spent 10 years broadcasting NFL games. (Scully gave this warm remembrance of Harwell after Ernie passed away on May 4).

Anyway, I don't have much to say about Vin Scully that he couldn't say much more remarkably. But after having the pleasure of hearing him a couple times this week, it seemed right that I say something. If you have a chance to catch him doing play-by-play, stop and listen. You'll never hear anyone do it any better.

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