Vin Scully’s 2016 Dodgers Media Guide puts a 67-year long career into perspective
The 21st century has proven to be the age of information. From rapid fire-updates on twitter to Baseball-Reference box scores dating back to 1913, there seems to be no end in sight to the amount of news made public. While these technological shifts affect everyone, former Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully has a unique take on the recent changes.
The “Voice of the Dodgers” for 67 years, Scully witnessed everything from a franchise shift to six World Series wins, but also watched on as baseball’s media landscape became a sport within itself, as writers, broadcasters and bloggers competed to get the best information out first. But Scully knew better than to get caught up in the competitive hype.
“There is so much information,” Scully, the 1982 Ford C. Frick Award winner, said in an interview with VICE Sports. “In the old days, the ball clubs did not provide any information. They didn’t have media guides. You didn’t have all the notes and all the computerized paper that we receive now before every game.”
The Los Angeles Dodgers recently donated Scully’s 2016 media guide to the Hall of Fame collection, complete with all of his papers, flashcards and post-it notes stuffed inside. But while Vin likes to have the information there, he doesn’t necessarily use all of it.
“All that information can be a danger as well,” he said to VICE. “You can be caught looking at your notes and miss a play on the field, which is a mortal sin.”
The guide is 412 pages long – sans flashcards – and is rife with Scully’s neon-yellow highlights inside. He notes everything from correct pronunciations (Kenta MAH-eh-da) to important dates in Dodger history (like Willie Stargell hitting the longest home run in Dodger Stadium at 506 feet). His scribblings provide a small glimpse into one of the greatest broadcasting minds of all time.
“During Vin Scully’s career he saw the team media guide move from a brief document which contained a basic schedule and roster to a weighty tome of hundreds of pages which now contain a full panorama of franchise information,” said Hall of Fame Library Director Jim Gates. “The 2016 copy represents a working document of the final year of his long career. It is from this copy that he pulled many of the facts, figures, and stories which entertained baseball fans across the country.”
But the Hall of Fame collection has a number of media guides, dating back to when they were only “player rosters.” In 1950 – the year Scully began broadcasting for the Dodgers – the team published a 3-fold brochure, complete with sections on “Ownership”, “Coaches”, and “Players” divided into “Pitchers/Catchers/Infielders/Outfielders”. There was a small blurb on the manager at the time – Burt Shotton – and some rookies. And no mention of Scully, or his counterparts, Red Barber and Connie Desmond.
A far cry from the 400-page behemoths distributed to the media today, the 1950 Dodgers “player roster” is a bare bones as they come. But regardless of the disparity in information Scully had access to, he managed to transform baseball broadcasts into an art form, painting an elaborate scene for listeners nationwide. While the media landscaped changed over his 67 years as the Dodgers’ broadcaster, Scully didn’t, knowing just the right amount of information to use at the right time.
“All in all, the information helps you,” Scully said to VICE. “But it can be like the Sirens in the song of the Lorelei. They can lure you onto the rocks unless you are very careful.”
Alex Coffey is the communications specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame
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