Jim de Bree: So long, Vin Scully

SCV Voices: Guest Commentary
SCV Voices: Guest Commentary

Like many of us who have grown up and lived in Southern California, the one constant in my life has been the magical voice of Vin Scully.

In 1961, my mother signed me up for Little League baseball. That started my lifelong passion for our national pastime.
I started listening to Dodger games that season, and that is when I became acquainted with Mr. Scully.

Vin taught me a lot about the game, its strategy, the players – and about Americana. My parents were immigrants who knew nothing about baseball except that you hit a ball with a bat.

As the years progressed, we learned a lot about baseball during baseball seasons and became ardent fans. Vin shared stories with us that were entertaining, instructive and, most importantly, he always conveyed a positive attitude.

To quote Rudyard Kipling, he was able to meet with triumph and disaster and treat them the same.

I was one of those kids who listened to Vin on the radio at night. In those days, the Dodgers only televised nine games a year when they played the Giants in San Francisco.

I did not have a transistor radio under my pillow like so many baby boomers did in the 1960s. I actually had a radio on my nightstand.

My mother would not let me listen on school nights because in those days, games started at 8 p.m. and were frequently not over until after 11 p.m. (I still clandestinely listened to games on school nights, frequently getting in trouble.)

There were more than a few summer nights when I woke my parents up by cheering loudly for the Dodgers in my bedroom.

Over the years, I enjoyed sharing Dodger baseball with my kids. Vin Scully was always a part of that experience.

Vin’s stories frequently stimulated interesting conversations about the finer points of baseball and about life in general, whether it was with my parents or with my kids. Simply stated, Vin Scully transcended generations in my family.

In today’s world of narcissistic media celebrities, Vin Scully’s modesty and objectiveness stand out. He never seeks attention for himself.
His work is his passion, and we all felt his passion. He always takes the high road.

I remember in 1962, when Maury Wills was setting the record for stolen bases. The Giants used to hose down the infield at Candlestick Park in an attempt to slow Maury on the base paths.

You and I might call that cheating. Vin referred to it as a testament to Maury’s abilities. As usual, Vin’s approach was the more effective way to get the point across.

A young aspiring announcer named Vin Scully was hired by Branch Rickey in 1950. Mr. Rickey started his major league career in 1905.

Vin Scully knew people who played the game 100 years ago, and to this day he continues to share their perspectives on the sport. His broadcasts convey over 100 years of Americana through the perspective of the national pastime.

At times it feels like Vin is a member of our family. After all, it seems like we know him so well.

As I reflect on things, Vin has been a part of the last 56 years of my life. He was there with my parents, who have long since passed away. When I started my career, Vin Scully had been the Dodgers broadcaster for a quarter century.

When I retired last year, not only was he still calling games, but he was as good as he ever was.

None of us wants to see Vin retire because we don’t want to lose the part of our life that he has become. But asking him to stay would not be fair to the man who has given us so much.

I remember in 1966 how sad I was when my favorite player, Sandy Koufax, announced his retirement. Now 50 years later, I am also saddened to see Vin Scully hang them up.

One of the unfortunate aspects of life is that all good things must come to an end.

When good things conclude is when we really begin to realize how special they were. To Vin Scully, I want to say thank you for the marvelous experiences you have provided, and may you and your family enjoy the future blessings that you so richly deserve.

Jim de Bree is a Valencia resident who is looking forward to someday sending a Dodgers World Champions baseball cap to his in-laws in the Bay Area who are ardent Giants fans.

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