Vin Scully remembered for turning baseball into poetry

For parts of eight decades, Vin Scully and the Dodgers have been as one.

The silencing of that perfect voice has left the Dodgers faithful – and baseball fans everywhere – with the unthinkable.

Scully, the Baseball Hall of Fame’s 1982 Ford C. Frick Award winner, died Tuesday at the age of 94. He leaves behind a legacy as one of the game’s most beloved announcers – a man whose melodious voice and quick wit verged on poetry for more than 60 years in the broadcast booth.

Working with the Dodgers, Vin Scully became the longest-tenured broadcaster with one club in professional sports history. (Tom Zimmerman/National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)

“Vin Scully’s voice connected generations of fans over an incomparable 67 years behind the microphone and is synonymous with our national pastime," said Jane Forbes Clark, Chairman of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. "The Museum was honored to present him with the 1982 Ford C. Frick Award for broadcast excellence. On behalf of our Hall of Fame members and all of us in Cooperstown, our heartfelt thoughts are with his family, friends and the millions of fans around the world who loved him and were devoted to his broadcasts.”

Scully was born Vincent Edward Scully on Nov. 29, 1927, in the Bronx and grew up in Manhattan. He played baseball and studied broadcasting at Fordham University, and got his first big break when Red Barber recruited him as a college football announcer on CBS Radio. In 1950, Scully joined Barber in the Dodgers radio booth at the age of 22.

By 1953, Scully had worked his way into the booth for the World Series – becoming the youngest Fall Classic broadcaster. Scully then moved west with the Dodgers when they relocated to Los Angeles in 1958.

In Brooklyn, Scully was part of a Dodgers’ organization that won four National League pennants and one World Series title. And in Los Angeles, the Dodgers continued that success with three World Series championships in their first eight years in L.A.

“Vin Scully has never hit a fair ball for the Dodgers on the field, but he has never uttered a foul one off it,” wrote legendary Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray in 1970. “He is without peer at making 9-0 games something you want to hang around and see how they come out.”

During his time in Los Angeles, Scully began working on national telecasts such as CBS pro football and golf coverage as well as CBS Radio’s national baseball games. In 1983, Scully signed on to do NBC’s Game of the Week baseball package, pairing him with Joe Garagiola (the 1991 Frick Award winner) and later Tom Seaver. After NBC lost the rights to Major League baseball following the 1989 season, Scully returned to CBS Radio from 1990-97.

All the while, Scully maintained his work with the Dodgers, eventually becoming the longest-tenured broadcaster with one club in professional sports history.

“You can hear the meter running when you start to realize all the years that have gone by,” Scully said. “You don’t take anything for granted.”

Scully’s most memorable calls include Don Larsen’s World Series perfect game in 1956, Sandy Koufax’s perfect game in 1965, the Mets’ rally against the Red Sox in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series and Kirk Gibson’s home run in Game 1 of the 1988 Fall Classic.

“I had the great fortune of working with Vin for many years at the Dodgers and rarely do your childhood heroes exceed your expectations when you get to know them, but somehow he did," said Josh Rawitch, President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. "He was the most vivid storyteller and an unparalleled broadcaster but what made him so beloved by everyone who knew him was that he was equally as amazing as a person. He has left an indelible impact on each of us and will forever be our game’s soundtrack to summer.”

In 1982, Scully became just the sixth winner of the Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually by the Baseball Hall of Fame for major contributions to baseball broadcasting.

“At times, I’ll be listening to him and I’ll think: ‘Oh, I wish I could call upon that expression the way he does,’” said Dick Enberg, another Southern California broadcaster who made his mark on the national scene. “He paints the picture more beautifully than anyone who’s ever called a baseball game.”

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum