The Vin Scully Article — In Full

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Dodgertown – It’s a community that isn’t limited to a single city. Dodgertown is so much more. It is a culture. It’s this feeling of belonging that spreads across Dodgers fans from coast to coast. Vin Scully, the mayor of the town if you will, is the inspiration behind it all. He is the voice that is so well known in baseball, it can send chills down the spine of anyone listening.

“It’s tiiime for Dodger Baseball.” The five most famous words for any Dodgers fan. Recognition of, and fan connection to the phrase goes far beyond the words themselves – it goes to the man behind the words. Vin Scully is considered the “Voice of the Dodgers.” After being a part of the organization for 63 years, Vin is, to say the least, a huge reason for people to come to the ballpark. He is reason enough to turn on the television to watch the Boys In Blue, and to be perfectly honest, reason enough to be a Dodgers fan. Vin Scully embodies all that is great about the Dodgers. From broken barriers in Brooklyn with Jackie Robinson, to perfection on the mound with Koufax, to Gibson limping to greatness…Vin has been behind it all, amidst the shadows, one of the kindest, most humble and poetic men we know. In Vin’s own words, he’s stated that, “no one is bigger than the game.” In this case, we may be able to make an exception.

scully (1)Born in the Bronx on November 29, 1927, Vin grew up mainly in the Washington Heights area of Manhattan. His father was a silk salesman, and his mother was an Irish, Catholic homemaker, giving Vin Scully the famous red hair that we know him for. As a kid, Vin worked for his family by delivering beer and mail, pushing garment racks, and cleaning silver in the basement of the Pennsylvania Hotel in New York City. He played many sports in high school including baseball, football and even a little tennis. He later attended Fordham Prepatory School, and went on to help found their FM radio station WFUV. He also became the assistant sports editor for Volume 28 of The Fordham Ram, and played center field for the Rams’ baseball team, where he played George Bush Sr. in a game against Yale.

“He was the captain and first baseman of Yale,” Vin theatrically told about George Bush. “And I was trying to play the outfield for Fordham. And we played against each other; it was a terrific game. I think it was either 2-1 or 3-1; Yale won. But it was a heck of a game. Years later, I had the pleasure of playing golf with him. Politics aside, he is a terrific guy. We talked about the game, and I said to him, ‘Mr. President, if you don’t mind me saying this, as long as you’re in the White House, you can say anything you want about your baseball career, but remember the day you step out of the White House, both of us went 0-3 in that game (laughing). Which he loved, he just howled”

2Scully-Jersey_1080Shortly after graduation from Fordham Prep, Vin Scully impressed Red Barber, the voice of the Brooklyn Dodgers at the time. Red ended up giving Vin a shot at broadcasting by letting him make his professional debut at a Maryland-Boston University football game after the main broadcaster got sick. The date was November 12, 1949…in Chicago…and it was cold. Vin Scully has shown up unprepared for one broadcast his entire life, and this was it. Now, I don’t mean that he came unprepared with regards to the game. No, see, if that was the case he probably could have made some stories up, stuck with the play by play, and made some funny remarks to get by like Vin always seems to do. This was different. Assuming that he would be doing the broadcast in the comfort of a heated booth, he left his hat and gloves in the hotel room he was staying at. “It was cold,” Scully said. “But I thought, naively, dumbly – ‘I’m going to be working for a network; I’ll have a big booth.”

When he arrived at the stadium however, he learned that he would not be doing it from a comfortable booth, but instead, he’d be calling the game from the roof of Fenway.  Yeah…the roof. “I’m looking for a booth, and there is no booth,” he went on to say. “There’s an engineer with a card table and his little dials for volume, a microphone and about 50 yards of cable…that’s it.” That day, the temperature was recorded to never reach above 45 degrees, and Vin called the entire game without once mentioning his discomfort. He would merely walk, back and forth, cord dragging behind him, following the action along the roof of Fenway, and he did his job.

 

Red Barber (Left) Connie Desmond (Middle) Vin Scully (Right)

Red Barber (Left) Connie Desmond (Middle) Vin Scully (Right)

“I really felt like I’d blown it,” he said. “So I go to the dance, meet some pals of mine, but I’m really down. And I’m down on the train going back to New York. I thought, ‘here I was giving this golden opportunity, but I was frozen, blah, blah, blah.’“ Fortunately for us all, that wasn’t exactly how everyone saw it. A few days later, Red Barber was phoned by a BU official commenting on how sorry he was for the treatment of the broadcaster. If that official hadn’t called Red, he would never have known what Vin did was so incredible because Vin never complained about what had happened.

“That turned out to be a big break, because let’s say I did a very ordinary job. In Red’s mind, ‘This kid never mentioned anything about no booth, the cold, nothing.’ That made a very ordinary job a little more than that in Red’s mind.” And that’s exactly what it did. Vin said, “He called me – I’ll never forget it – and said something to the effect of, ‘Pretty tough day up there on the roof?’ And I said, ‘Yes, sir, it was cold.’ And he said, ‘You’ll have a booth this week; You’re doing Harvard-Yale.’ “Vin just smiled…and a legend was born.

At the time all this was going on, if you turned on a Dodgers broadcast, you would hear the voices of Red Barber and Ernie Harwell. They were the broadcast team for quite some time before Harwell would eventually leave the Dodgers to go work for the New York Giants. Two months after the Fenway incident, Barber once again remembered the redhead who never complained.

“I always had the dream of taking an untutored kid who showed some promise and of putting him on the air for what he was, a neophyte learning the trade,” said Barber in his autobiography, Rhubarb in the Catbird Seat. “Scully was a perfect choice. He was a green pea, but he was a very appealing young green pea. It was obvious he had something on the ball; you didn’t know precisely what it was, but he had it.”

scully2Red wasn’t the only one who noticed there was something different about this kid. Branch Rickey, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers at the time, also told Red after meeting Vin, “You have found the right young man.”

Scully first joined the Dodgers in Vero Beach, Fla., during Spring Training in 1950 as their number three announcer behind Red and Connie Desmond. In just under four years, he was already calling his first World Series on national television, and by 1955, just five years later, he was the Dodgers primary announcer.  Since that day, he has been the only other person to fill that role.

There is an automatic respect among players and individuals that come into contact with Vin Scully (unless of course you commit social suicide like Mike Piazza). He has said that as much as he’d like to, he doesn’t get to interact and become close with current players. “Most of them I nod,” said Vin. “Some of them – have an exchange. And there are some…when you get to September, you don’t even know who they are.” (Talking, of course, about the extended rosters around that time of the season)

“The other thing too,” continuing on about player relationships, “I think age is a factor. When I started, I was the same age as the players, so it was pretty normal to hang out. Now, and they mean well by it, I understand, but now, they’re always saying mister. ‘Hi, Mr. Scully.’ Well that means they’re kind of holding you out here somewhere (as he points out with his arm).”

vin-scully-51093268When asked if he would prefer the players called him Vin instead, he replied, “Oh sure! Ya see…but they don’t. And I say, ya know, ‘Hey! I’m Vin.’ And they say ‘yes sir.’ So I am different now, I have been removed by time, but I do try and keep up with them as much as I can.”

The players may distance themselves due to the age difference, sure. However I don’t think that’s the reason they call him ‘sir.’ I think it’s the incredible amount of respect for the man that has been in the game, and with the Dodgers for almost double the amount of years that they’ve even been alive. Blake DeWitt, after hitting his first homerun as a Dodger, was made a DVD of the game. When asked about it, he said, “I’m so excited because I get to hear Vin talk about me.” He didn’t even care about watching his first homerun. All he cared about was hearing a man merely talk about him.

Everyone loves his stories. They are something that makes watching the game on television, truly something special. They are stories that only a man that has been around for over six decades would know. Matt Kemp once said, “Vin Scully knows things about me that I don’t even know about myself, (laughing) and it’s funny but he’s a great guy and he does his job well.”

scullyDuring an interview with Andre Ethier, the topic of Vin Scully was brought up. It was almost an instant smile that was brought to his face. “I get a chance to talk to him, ya know, in the clubhouse, on the plane trips sometimes,” Andre said. “And just to hear him talk in person, it gives you chills every once in a while, just to know that it’s not the typical, on TV called game. He’s actually talking to you, and its that same kid, its that same way he talks on TV is the way he carries a conversation so its pretty neat.” Ethier went on to say, “doing this, this long, being a guy who has seen the players play in Brooklyn, and was in Brooklyn for quite a while before coming out to L.A. and then still here, and then someone who is so knowledgeable about the game. I think that’s something where you have to respect that. He would even be a good confidant for some managers, just because of all the things and situations he’s probably seen over the years.”

The one story that I took away from all the interviews, even more so than him doing a broadcast from a roof, him playing ball with George Bush, or any of the reactions from the players, was a story that Charley Steiner (Dodgers Broadcaster) told about a spring training game.

vin-scully-rainbow-bobblehead-530x350“The one moment that I remember most,” Steiner said, “was the very first exhibition game I did with the Dodgers in 2005. We were at Vero Beach, Fla., and a terrible hurricane had blown through. There was a question as to whether or not we were going to be able to play that game the very first day. And at game time, they were still putting the stadium back together; the scoreboard was dangling with wires. I’m trying to explain in some reportorial style what this place looks like after this horrific hurricane. And I’m huffin’ and puffin’ and I feel as if I did a reasonably good job, and then I had the pleasure to say, ‘And now with the play-by-play, here is Vin Scully.’ Vin sits down…and says, “Ya know, as we look out at the palm trees off in the distance, there are some palm trees that have been knocked down and blown over, there are some palm trees of middle age that are just hanging on, and there are some new palm trees that have just been planted.’ Then Vin said, ‘Isn’t that what spring training is all about anyway?’ And that’s when I got up and left…”

scully-firstpitchMatt Kemp later said, “There are times when I get home and I watch re-runs and I get to hear some of the stuff he says, and I’m like man, he really knows a lot about the players. He knows so much about the game and he knows so much about people, that its an unbelievable gift.”

“I know I was given a gift.” Vin said. “I’ve been allowed to do it for so long, I don’t like to take bows, because, it’s a gift. It was something that was just given to me, and so I can’t stick my chest out, and say, ya know, this is great. So I’d rather just stay back in the shadows.” Vin is pure humbleness at it’s finest.

I was trying to rack my brain, trying to figure out how to end this article on the man I’ve grown to respect and love so much. There was nothing I could think of that would possibly personify the amount of respect I have. Along the same lines, nothing I could ever say would explain why exactly I even decided to sit down and write this. Then it finally hit me. I’ll do what Vin Scully is known so well for doing. Whenever there is a big moment that he’s covering, he doesn’t talk at all. He lets the crowd, and the sounds and images of the game become his voice. Just for example, when he called Sandy Koufax’s theatrical perfect game, he stayed quiet for 38 seconds, just to let the fans take it in. And for Gibson’s homerun in 1988 – over a minute of silence. So I am going to take Vin’s advice, and stay back in the shadows, and let the man we have all grown to love finish it out.

“I came through transistor radios in Flatbush…and followed the sunset across the country. I passed Babe Ruth with Aaron, and between Buckner’s legs in Boston. I was there for perfection…and the men who limped to greatness. I’ve been there in celebration and defeat. From changing era’s and ages. And the whole time, you’ve always been right there with me.”

We love you Vin. Thank you for 63 incredible years.

 

Vin Scully

It’s tiiime for Dodger Baseball!!

Hello Dodgertown!

DI Logo1Man, I have I missed you all. As most of you know, last season had to end a bit early for me, as far as Dodgers Insider goes, due to some personal stuff. I missed it, and I missed talking to all of you on a regular basis. I’m glad to say that I plan on coming back as Dodgers Insider and return to blogging for you all. However, it comes with a little bit of a change. Last year, I was a source to bring people the most recent news and updates for the Dodgers. It was a way for the fans to all come together, share their opinions, and more importantly, ask any questions that they had about the team, which I was glad to answer.

This year, I’m going to do things a little bit differently. You see, I’ve realized a few things. As much as I’d love to, I’m not able to blog for the Dodgers as my full time job, as is the case for some bloggers. In order for me to spend all my time getting the most recent updates and insider information, I’d need to get paid doing it! (**cough** HR people in the Dodgers front office…)  haha But I just recently graduated college and am diving into my career head first. The reason I mention this is because to me, the Dodgers are a part of my life that will never go away. As a fan, I’ve always wanted a place to go to talk to other fans when I can’t go to games. I’ve always wanted that community feeling you get in Dodgers Stadium even after you drive away from Elysian Park Ave. That’s what I want Dodgers Insider to become. Will I still bring you news updates, game scores and times? Absolutely. Will I still give everyone a heads up for game time with the five best words in baseball (It’s tiiime for Dodger Baseball)? More than likely. I’ll also still aim to get some good player interviews for you all. But most importantly, I just want this to become a community. I want this to be a site where you come to share your emotions on the night’s walkoff homerun, or the frustrations of blowing a lead late in the game. Those emotions are what make us Dodgers fans, and that’s what I want to focus on – the love of the game.

Over the next couple months, I am going to change the site a little bit (and get a .com FINALLY). I also hope to implement some forums, or comment sections – places where everyone can come and talk about whatever they desire. And again, ask questions about the team that you are curious about. I am still here for you guys for all that information.

11810_10151697323128508_1234017524_nI couldn’t be more excited for this season to start, especially with all of our signings this off season. I will be at most of the Spring Training games out in Camelback, so if you ever want to catch a game, let me know! Again, I can’t stress the word community enough. I can’t wait to reconnect with you all and have an amazing season on what I’m sure will be an emotional roller coaster. Until then! Go Blue!

Dodgers Acquire All-Star Hanley Ramirez

Great day in L.A. today! I woke up this morning — phone blowing up with some of the greatest news I’ve seen in a while. Ned Colletti had acquired Hanley Ramirez from the Miami Marlins. Who would have thought this was an option even two weeks ago?? Not me. When Ramirez’s availability first became available a week or so ago, my original thoughts were that the Dodgers stood the best chance to get him due to the fact that they would be one of the few teams that could afford his salary. When it came down to it, the Marlin’s were going to pay the A’s half of Hanley’s salary, before the Dodgers came in and accepted it. Let’s look at what we gave up and accepted on.

Marlins Give Up:

Hanley Ramirez, SS/3B and Randy Choate LRP (Lefty)

Hanley, as stated before, is going to be a huge addition to L.A. He is an All-Star caliber player that also has some hardware on his shelf. He has won the Batting Title and also won Rookie of the Year. He is expected to initially start at shortstop in the absence of Dee Gordon. However, when Dee is scheduled to come back around mid-August, the idea is for Hanley to move over to 3B. Now most of you are probably wondering, If Hanley is so good, why didn’t we have to give up big name players for him? The fact that we took on his large contract is a big factor in it, but also, Hanley does come with a little baggage. This deal can either go two ways, and this is just me being entirely honest with you guys. The first way, and the way we all hope, is that he returns to the Hanley he was in recent years, and makes an immediate impact on the team. the second way, and the way we could all be dreading, is if he continues on his head-case path that he is currently on. There has been a lot of rumors going around saying that Hanley didn’t like being moved to 3B when Miami brought in Jose Reyes. Hanley, earlier in the year, punched out a dugout fan with his hand in July, which eventually developed an infection in both his hand and with manager Ozzie Guillen. Ned, Don, and all of the Dodgers organization believes that with the new team, and change of scenery, a whole nation away, that Hanley will fix his attitude and return back to his form. If he does…the Dodgers definitely just made one of the better moves they have in a very long time.

Randy Choate is a guy that is definitely not going as talked about in this deal. He is a left handed reliever which was another major hole that we needed to fill. He isn’t the “come in and completely shut teams down” kind of player, by any means, but he is definitely a good contribution. The fact that he is a lefty is great, and this year, in just 44 innings, he has only allowed 7 runs. Randy should also be decently familiar with Dodger stadium, seeing as he pitched for the Diamondbacks for four years through 2004-2007. Aside from the Dbacks, Randy has played on three other teams dating back to 2000 (Yankees, Rays, Marlins), making the Dodgers his fifth team in his career. I don’t think he will be dominant or mind-blowing by any means, or else we’d be talking about him a lot more. However I do think that he will provide that lefty stability that we needed in the pen.

What the Dodgers Gave Up:

Nathan Eovaldi, RHP (Starter) and Scott McGough RHP (Reliever)

We have all grown to love Nate. He has pitched his heart out for us after Ted Lilly went down, but in the end, just never got the run support he needed and found himself with a 1-6 record. His 4.15 ERA may not sound great, but is better than Clayton Kershaw’s ERA in his rookie campaign, (4.26) so that should say something there. It’s tough to see Nate go, especially when we have pitchers like Chad Billingsley still in the rotation consistently being inconsistent, but in the end, we have to realize that Nate was a prospect this entire time. The minute Lilly returned, he was going to be sent down to the minors anyways. At least we could get something for him, while his value is still high.

Scott McGough, although our own prospect, is the one guy in this trade that not many people know anything about. Let me give you a quick report on who exactly we let go. Scott was drafted in the 46th round of the 2008 Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates out of high school, but instead, opted to attend the University of Oregon. It proved to be a good choice for him, because his college career bolstered him up 41 rounds where the Dodgers took him in the fifth round (164 overall) in the 2011 draft. He began his professional career with Ogden in Rookie League, and made just six appearances before being moved to Class A Great Lakes Loons. He recorded decent numbers (2.21 ERA with 8 saves and 25 strikeouts in 20 innings) but when he was promoted to High-A Rancho, his numbers began to decrease. In my opinion, he allows far too many baserunners to be a major league pitcher. He allows roughly a hit per inning, and a walk every other inning. Although he does have 48 K’s in 47 innings, the baserunners was the thing that always worried me. This year, for Rancho, he is 3-5 with a 3.99 ERA. While those numbers aren’t terrible, if a prospect is going to be a talent at the major league level, those numbers need to be a lot better. Usually, I hate to see a prospect go with so much developing to do, but the fact that Scott is a right handed reliever, that doesn’t seem to be dominant in the Class A levels…I think it’s safe to say that there isn’t much development to be had on this one.

The corresponding move was to send Todd Coffey to the 60-Day DL, and move Adam Kennedy to the 15-Day DL with a strained groin. In the end, the major part of the deal was that the Dodgers would be taking on Hanley Ramirez’s big contract. He is towards the end of a six year contract that pays him $15 million this year, $15 million next year, and $16 million in 2014. The Dodgers are planning to pick up around $40 million of that remaining contract. The nice part about this deal, is that we have 2 more years where Hanley is guaranteed to the Dodgers, in which time we can continue to build, and allows us to offer him a good deal when it comes to sign again, assuming that Hanley puts up the numbers we all know he is capable of. All I know for sure now is…I can’t WAIT to see Hanley in that Dodger Blue.

Good News For Ted Lilly

Ted Lilly, who has been out since May 24 with left shoulder inflammation, is finally starting to pitch close to 100%. He threw yesterday, and expected to feel strong again today. Lilly said that he was likely to throw one more solid bullpen session, then face hitters in practice, then finally head out for a minor league rehab stint. Once this happens, Ted will obviously be well on his way to being back in the rotation.

 

“I feel pretty confident I can start being aggressive with the throwing program,” said Lilly. “This was the most intensity I’ve had.”

 
With Ted being close to his return, what will that say about our rotation if the Dodgers acquire Ryan Dempster? It is easy to say that Nate Eovaldi would be sent down if we acquired Dempster now, but with the rotation of Kershaw, Bills, Cap, Harang and Lilly, will a move with Billingsley finally be made? My initial guess would be to send Bills to the pen, but with a lingering $9 Million contract just for this year alone, it’s too political to say for sure. If anything else, the Dempster move will shake things up if it happens. Only time will tell.

A Letter From Dodgers’ President, Stan Kasten

This email was just sent out by the Dodgers’ Organization. Enjoy:

 

July 10, 2012

Dear Dodger Fans:

I wanted to take this time during the All-Star break to send you a note of thanks and also share with you the improvements we are making here at Dodger Stadium.

First, I want to thank you for believing in your Los Angeles Dodgers. Dodger pride is back, thanks to your loyalty, your support and the incredible energy you demonstrate night in and night out here at Dodger Stadium. Our players deserve enormous credit for an exciting and successful first half of the 2012 season, but it could not have been done without you.

When Magic Johnson, Mark Walter and I were introduced as the new ownership team two months ago, we made bold commitments to you and to all of the Los Angeles community. Since then, we have conducted surveys, focus groups and town hall meetings. In addition, we’ve engaged in countless conversations with many of you each night at the ballpark. We will continue to listen to you and your suggestions regarding the improvement of your Dodger Stadium experience and we have already begun to act on your recommendations. Some have been achieved already, some are in progress, and still others are being planned. But they all represent a no-excuses culture that we are creating throughout the Dodger organization.

This Dodger ownership continues to look for ways to make a game at Dodger stadium the best value for your entertainment dollar. On day one, we reduced the price of general parking from $15 to $10, making your entry into Chavez Ravine and picturesque Dodger Stadium an even more enjoyable moment.

Our players love to see you in the stands and we want to make it easy for you to come out to the park to root for the home team.

Here are some other areas that we have addressed in our first 60 days:

– We have shortened concession lines by adding staff and operating more efficiently, enabling you to enjoy more of the game with friends and family.

– We have created more pre-game opportunities for you to meet players at the entrance gates and receive autographs during batting practice. Personal contact between fans and players has always been one of baseball’s most enduring attractions, and we will do everything we can to maintain that important and historic connection.

– We are working with the LADOT, the LAPD and the MTA to improve traffic flow into and out of the stadium area. We also have assigned ambassadors to all parking gate entrances to guide those in need of assistance and speed the transaction times, all in an effort to get vehicles through the gates more easily and quickly.

– We have moved forward with a more aggressive strategy in scouting and signing international players, a hallmark trait of this organization, to strengthen our player development system. This strategy has already paid dividends in the recent signing of Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig and others.

– Most importantly, as demonstrated by the recent signing of Andre Ethier to a five-year contract extension that will keep him a Dodger playing alongside Matt Kemp through at least 2017, the signing of the aforementioned Puig and the signing of Corey Seager, our No. 1 draft choice, we have the resources to assure the Dodgers are contenders year in and year out.

– We are celebrating Dodger Stadium’s 50th anniversary and we realize there are a number of areas that we can improve upon to make the fan experience most enjoyable. We have already begun to engage and hire experts in architecture and engineering to assist us in improving one of baseball’s most beautiful stadiums.

And we have only just begun.

Some of you may have seen me, and some have even stopped to talk to me, as I visit different levels throughout the stadium every game. I do this because I want to learn – from you. I have asked my entire staff to be more active and visible to assist you and to get your feedback. Please come and talk to us. Your honesty and your enthusiasm will help make this organization serve you better.

And, expect us to continue asking you what you think over the coming weeks and months. We want to include you in surveys, focus groups and other discussions to help improve your experience at Dodger Stadium. But you don’t have to wait for a formal invitation; please continue to send your ideas to fanbox@ladodgers.com. Your thoughts and suggestions truly make a difference.

Some of your ideas can be implemented quickly, others will take more time. But we will keep you informed more frequently on everything we are doing to strengthen Dodger pride, to preserve yesterday’s traditions, and to create tomorrow’s memories.

When you visit Dodger Stadium, I want you to experience an even stronger culture and community among Dodger fans. We’re going to create that experience together – and visiting teams will always know when they’re playing in our town. We all love this team, and I want our fans to be able to show their pride together.

This is YOUR team, now and always.

Our goal is to deliver to YOU a World Series championship and to restore the Los Angeles Dodgers to their rightful place as a leader in Major League Baseball.

Thank you again for your loyalty to the Dodgers. You have our commitment that we will never take that for granted.

Sincerely,

Stan Kasten
President and CEO
Los Angeles Dodgers

Dee Gordon Headed to the DL

DeeGo has officially been placed on the DL. The MRI taken today showed that he tore the UCL in his thumb sliding head first into third last night and it will require surgery. Dodgers are saying that Dee will not be back for a minimum of six weeks. The corresponding move was that Javy Guerra was activated from the Disabled List.

With DeeGo going to the DL, the only starters from our opening day roster that have avoided the DL this year are James Loney and A.J. Ellis. This injury bug is no joke. Dodgers just can’t seem to catch a break.

“The Voice of the Dodgers” – The Vin Scully Series: Part 1

Dodgertown – It’s a community that isn’t limited to a single city. Dodgertown is so much more. It is a culture. It’s this feeling of belonging that spreads across Dodgers fans from coast to coast. Vin Scully, the mayor of the town if you will, is the inspiration behind it all. He is the voice that is so well known in baseball, it can send chills down the spine of anyone listening.

“It’s tiiime for Dodger Baseball.” The five most famous words for any Dodgers fan. Recognition of, and fan connection to the phrase goes far beyond the words themselves – it goes to the man behind the words. Vin Scully is considered the “Voice of the Dodgers.” After being a part of the organization for 63 years, Vin is, to say the least, a huge reason for people to come to the ballpark. He is reason enough to turn on the television to watch the Boys In Blue, and to be perfectly honest, reason enough to be a Dodgers fan. Vin Scully embodies all that is great about the Dodgers. From broken barriers in Brooklyn with Jackie Robinson, to perfection on the mound with Koufax, to Gibson limping to greatness…Vin has been behind it all, amidst the shadows, one of the kindest, most humble and poetic men we know. In Vin’s own words, he’s stated that, “no one is bigger than the game.” In this case, we may be able to make an exception.

Born in the Bronx on November 29, 1927, Vin grew up mainly in the Washington Heights area of Manhattan. His father was a silksalesman, and his mother was an Irish, Catholic homemaker, giving Vin Scully the famous red hair that we know him for. As a kid, Vin worked for his family by delivering beer and mail, pushing garment racks, and cleaning silver in the basement of the Pennsylvania Hotel in New York City. He played many sports in high school including baseball, football and even a little tennis. He later attended Fordham Prepatory School, and went on to help found their FM radio station WFUV. He also became the assistant sports editor for Volume 28 of The Fordham Ram, and played center field for the Rams’ baseball team, where he played George Bush Sr. in a game against Yale.

“He was the captain and first baseman of Yale,” Vin theatrically told about George Bush. “And I was trying to play the outfield for Fordham. And we played against each other; it was a terrific game. I think it was either 2-1 or 3-1; Yale won. But it was a heck of a game. Years later, I had the pleasure of playing golf with him. Politics aside, he is a terrific guy. We talked about the game, and I said to him, ‘Mr. President, if you don’t mind me saying this, as long as you’re in the White House, you can say anything you want about your baseball career, but remember the day you step out of the White House, both of us went 0-3 in that game (laughing). Which he loved, he just howled”

Shortly after graduation from Fordham Prep, Vin Scully impressed Red Barber, the voice of the Brooklyn Dodgers at the time. Red ended up giving Vin a shot at broadcasting by letting him make his professional debut at a Maryland-Boston University football game after the main broadcaster got sick. The date was November 12, 1949…in Chicago…and it was cold. Vin Scully has shown up unprepared for one broadcast his entire life, and this was it. Now, I don’t mean that he came unprepared with regards to the game. No, see, if that was the case he probably could have made some stories up, stuck with the play by play, and made some funny remarks to get by like Vin always seems to do. This was different. Assuming that he would be doing the broadcast in the comfort of a heated booth, he left his hat and gloves in the hotel room he was staying at. “It was cold,” Scully said. “But I thought, naively, dumbly – ‘I’m going to be working for a network; I’ll have a big booth.”

When he arrived at the stadium however, he learned that he would not be doing it from a comfortable booth, but instead, he’d be calling the game from the roof of Fenway.  Yeah…the roof. “I’m looking for a booth, and there is no booth,” he went on to say. “There’s an engineer with a card table and his little dials for volume, a microphone and about 50 yards of cable…that’s it.” That day, the temperature was recorded to never reach above 45 degrees, and Vin called the entire game without once mentioning his discomfort. He would merely walk, back and forth, cord dragging behind him, following the action along the roof of Fenway, and he did his job.

“I really felt like I’d blown it,” he said. “So I go to the dance, meet some pals of mine, but I’m really down. And I’m down on the train going back to New York. I thought, ‘here I was giving this golden opportunity, but I was frozen, blah, blah, blah.’“ Fortunately for us all, that wasn’t exactly how everyone saw it. A few days later, Red Barber was phoned by a BU official commenting on how sorry he was for the treatment of the broadcaster. If that official hadn’t called Red, he would never have known what Vin did was so incredible because Vin never complained about what had happened.

“That turned out to be a big break, because let’s say I did a very ordinary job. In Red’s mind, ‘This kid never mentioned anything about no booth, the cold, nothing.’ That made a very ordinary job a little more than that in Red’s mind.” And that’s exactly what it did. Vin said, “He called me – I’ll never forget it – and said something to the effect of, ‘Pretty tough day up there on the roof?’ And I said, ‘Yes, sir, it was cold.’ And he said, ‘You’ll have a booth this week; You’re doing Harvard-Yale.’ “Vin just smiled…and a legend was born.

Red Barber (Left) Connie Desmond (Middle) Vin Scully (Right)

At the time all this was going on, if you turned on a Dodgers broadcast, you would hear the voices of Red Barber and Ernie Harwell. They were the broadcast team for quite some time before Harwell would eventually leave the Dodgers to go work for the New York Giants. Two months after the Fenway incident, Barber once again remembered the redhead who never complained.

“I always had the dream of taking an untutored kid who showed some promise and of putting him on the air for what he was, a neophyte learning the trade,” said Barber in his autobiography, Rhubarb in the Catbird Seat. “Scully was a perfect choice. He was a green pea, but he was a very appealing young green pea. It was obvious he had something on the ball; you didn’t know precisely what it was, but he had it.”

 

Red wasn’t the only one who noticed there was something different about this kid. Branch Rickey, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers at the time, also told Red after meeting Vin, “You have found the right young man.” To be continued…

This Day In Dodgers History – June 30th

The bright young career of Sandy Koufax reaches the first of what would be many peaks as the left-hander fires his first no-hitter, a 5-0 gem over the New York Mets before a crowd of 32,769 at Dodger Stadium in 1962.

The no-hitter is the first by a Los Angeles Dodger pitcher and second at Dodger Stadium. Bo Belinsky of the Los Angeles Angels was the first to toss a no-hitter at Dodger Stadium, on May 5, 1962 over the Baltimore Orioles.

Koufax, who would go on to pitch four no-hitters – including the only perfect game in franchise history – gave an early indication of his domination against New York when he struck out the side on nine pitches in the first inning. He battled some control problems, walking five and reaching 3-and-2 counts nine times, but did not allow a runner to reach second base.

The native of Brooklyn became the first Dodger left-hander to throw a no-hitter in 54 years, following Nap Rucker’s gem during the 1908 campaign.

A Hall of Famer and one of the most dominating pitchers in history, Koufax threw no-hitters in each of the next three seasons. His perfect game came on Sept. 9, 1965 in a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium.

Koufax also had two one-hitters during his Los Angeles career.

 

Per Dodgers Site.

Today In Dodgertown – Injury Updates

Today “marks” a huge day for Mark Ellis (See what I did there? Eh? Ok, sorry, no more puns) Considering our absurd amount of injuries, I figured that everyone would like a brief little summation on all the players to see when we’ll have our Dodgers team back, healthy, and ready to make a push back to first place. Here it is:

Mark Ellis: Mark is literally one month ahead of schedule in regards to his rehab. After a May 19th collision at second base, he was hospitalized for five days, and came within six hours of losing his leg. I’m not a doctor…but that’s not typically a “let’s get back to playing baseball” type situation. That’s more of a “I’m lucky to be walking” type situation. Nonetheless though, he is not only walking, he’s playing again. Like I said before, today is a huge day for Mark. He will be making his first rehab start of a four day assignment for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. Tonight, he is going to just DH. Then he will play the field the remaining three days, and rest after that. The Dodgers have targeted Mark to make his official comeback with the club (assuming all goes well with rehab games) for the Arizona series which starts this upcoming Thursday, July 5th.

Matt Kemp: Matty is also doing well and is progressing right along in his rehab. Don Mattingly came out last week and said that the Dodgers had sat down with Matt to discuss the All-Star break and whether or not he would be able to participate. The agreement that they came up with was that he would be able to compete in the Home Run Derby no matter what, but would not play Center Field in the ASG if he had not yet played a game for the Dodgers. Which is understandable. Donnie has since said that Sue Falsone and the Dodgers training staff are now working to not only allow Matt to compete in the Home Run Derby, but also manage to work that into his rehab as well.

“The plan right now is that it would be part of what he’s doing. We’re going to try to build it into the program.” Mattingly said.

Don went on to add that Matt still has another round of testing to do on his hamstring before he starts his rehab assignment, but that there is a chance he could start his rehab assignment before the All Star Break.

Andre Ethier: ‘Dre, as we all know in that dreaded Giants’ series, tweaked his left oblique in a slide to second. Good news for us all, is that it wouldn’t require a DL stint. I know that oblique’s are incredibly touchy injuries and depending on the severity, could literally take months to heal, but Don and Andre have both said it was a very minor injury, and they are just playing it safe. ‘Dre is still sore, but he says that he expects to be back in the lineup either tonight or tomorrow. Judging by the way they have played it so far, my guess would be tomorrow night, but we’ll see when the lineup card’s scratched in.

Ted Lilly: Ted’s recovery is still moving along slowly, but moving along nonetheless. Last Friday he made a big improvement and made about 15 soft throws. I know that may not sound like much, but initial reports were saying that his shoulder inflammation would cause Lilly to undergo an operation, so the fact he can make throws without it, is a huge progression. Don said that they will continue to take it slow and cautious with Lilly. Luckily for everyone, Eovaldi has done a very nice job (contrary to his win-loss record) replacing Lilly in the rotation, so we don’t have to rush anything. There has not yet been a timetable on his return.

Javy Guerra: Javy underwent right knee surgery on June 5th, and has made a very good recovery from that. He is said to possibly be ready for a rehab assignment as early as this upcoming week. He threw back-to-back bullpen sessions on Thursday and Friday and is progressing along nicely. Similarly, there is no timetable set for Javy’s return either.

My best guess would be that if everyone stays on the pace they are at, and we don’t have any setbacks, we could be looking to be full strength by the end of July, if not a week or two before. At this point, it will almost be weird to have all of our players back again. I can’t imagine the strength of our lineup with all of our players healthy, and a successful trade deadline. Only time will tell…

Stan Kasten – The Direction of the Dodgers

Stan Kasten…is a leader. I don’t just say that because of the position he currently holds with the Dodgers as President and CEO. I say that because if you ever get the incredible opportunity to speak with him or even listen to him talk, you become inspired. You get this overwhelming excitement that you didn’t even knew existed. He got me excited about this current ball club that we have. Impressive, right? I walked away from it all not even really knowing why I was so optimistic, but I was. Listening to him talk is simply a wonder and a treat. He is the kind of guy that when you greet him with a polite, “Hello Mr. Kasten, how are you doing?” He quickly corrects you and replies with a laugh, “It’s Stan, but I’m doing great, thanks for asking.” He talks to you like a friend, and tells everyone exactly how it is, no matter the situation.

He knows exactly what he’s doing. This isn’t his first rodeo. He is an incredibly humble man that knows that this whole “business,” if you will, is 100% about the fans; and from the fans standpoint, the team comes first. The team…is everything.

Within the first week of him becoming president, Stan was walking the stadium. He was checking out lines at the food vendors, walking the upper deck, stopping to say hello to fans. This is a guy who has personally read over 3,000 suggestions from the fan box, performed 2 different public opinion surveys and 2 separate focus groups just last week. It’s not glamorous work by any means, but it is completely necessary. He doesn’t have someone do the dirty work for him, he does it himself.

This “interview,” for lack of a better term, wasn’t necessarily a question and answer type deal. It was more of a conversation with a few guiding questions. Instead of giving you exact questions that were asked, I will merely guide you in the direction that the conversation went, but mostly quoting Stan, so you can see first hand, what your Dodgers president is like. Now Stan is very in depth when he speaks to fans, his coworkers, his associates, anybody. So when he is asked a question, he answers to the absolute best of his abilities and in depth as possible for clarity sake. His responses and quotes can be long, but I can guarantee you they are worth your time. He is an amazing speaker, and will get you excited moving forward. So as you’d probably all like, I’ll stop writing and get to the good stuff. haha

Since the Guggenheim Group has taken over, there has been a definitely different vibe around Dodger Stadium. The average attendance has rose to around 39,000 per game, there are great promotions, and overall, fans are much happier with this new group. I think we’d all agree with that. Stan was very thankful for the credit, and was thankful for the fans as well:

“Thanks for saying that, and people tell us that, anecdotally, that the reaction has been fantastic. But I will tell you what I can say for sure, objectively, that we have sold a lot more tickets. We have sold almost 3,000 new season tickets since the announcement that we were selected had been made. Now I got to believe that most of that is because the team looks so good and the future I think is bright for everyone, but there is also that belief or that credibility that our group brings with it. Now everyone is going to need to see some proof, but I do not take their support and their reception for granted. We have to start doing things and the sooner the better for that. But again, giving us this latitude, giving us this time to feel our way through to find out the best things to do, we really appreciate it, and we don’t take it for granted. We do have plans, and we are working on things right now to not just get the experience better, but even more importantly the team better.”

The dreaded series against the Giants was brought up. When this all happened, it was all on our minds, and it was something that needed to be addressed — not just the series, but this recent lack of offense and overall performance. Stan didn’t back down from any of it and responded with integrity:

“Well you have to address the areas that are available to you, let me talk about that for a second. First of all, as you know, no matter how long you’re in the game, losses really hurt (chuckling) and losing streaks are the worst of all. So yeah, this is a bad week for all of us who are Dodgers fans. I do have to say, to be fair, I was thrilled that we were doing as well as were doing up until two weeks ago, given the unbelievable injuries to the key people that we’ve had. Ya know, we’d love to have Matt back, we’d love to have Mark Ellis back, we’d love to have Ted Lilly back, and yet without guys like that, and other people that we’ve lost along the way, we really held up well. That was a real testament to the fortitude of this team, the resilience of the backup players who had to step up and the managing of Don and the coaching of his coaches. So that’s a real strength I think and that hasn’t gone away, we still have those strengths. But when we get players back, we obviously expect to get better.”

We all know about Stan’s philosophy. He is very intent on making our farm system as strong as it can be, and dominant in the future. He has always been a big supporter of the farm system, it has worked wonders for him in the past with other teams, and he looks to bring the Dodgers back to where they were — the best farm system in baseball. Going off what he said about improving the team, the conversation went into exactly that, and what he was doing as of now, to improve the farm system or the big league club.

“Well for this time of year, what has happened when I say all you can do is what’s available, is going in to June and in to July, it’s a scouting and player development time of year, that’s because the draft is the first week of June. And I can tell you that I think we had an excellent draft; I watched the process, I spent a week with the scouts to learn them, to see how they worked, to find out who I can really trust and where we might need to add more. I think we had a terrific draft, I think we need to get our first round picks signed, but I expect that to happen very soon. After the draft, the next thing that happens is the July 2nd, international day. And you know this is such a big thing for me because its such a big part of modern baseball. It is an area that the Dodgers did not emphasize in the last few years. I think it’s a really important thing. And this year, new rules are kicking in pursuant to our new collective bargaining agreement. So there’s a window where you can sign people before July 2nd, and I’d like to see if we can do something before then. So that’s Monday. And then starting Monday, after July 2nd, we all now have a cap amount – an allotment of money – that we can use to sign international players, and I hope to start using that money for that next group of players starting first thing monday. So I hope by this time next week, (which at that time would be Wednesday, July 4th) we’ll be able to announce the signings of all our first round draft picks, maybe a pre-July 2nd singing, maybe some post July 2nd signings, so that we can say that in the course of one month we’ve really, really started the process of beefing up our minor leagues. So that’s what can be done now. After the July 2nd period, or the week thereafter, you really can start to turn your attention to the major league club because that’s when other teams are turning their attention to their major league clubs as well. Where the scouts are now fanning out, and also, the closer you get to the deadline, July 31, the picture becomes clearer which teams are going to sell, which teams are going to move their players. Right now it’s kind of merky because, as we know, this year there is now a second wild card team and that means more teams have hopes so teams are staying in it longer. I think that will clear up by August 31. And all I will say to you is this, I think we demonstrated with Andre Ethier that we will be aggressive in retaining the players that we really appreciate. I think that when we get going on these international signings, we will demonstrate there too that we’re going to be aggressive in pursuing international talent. And I hope by August 1, we’re able to show that we’ll be aggressive in pursuing additions to the team in mid season as well. And then next offseason, we plan on being aggressive in doing that too. So we still have things to prove to our fans, but I promise you that is our plan, and we plan to deliver on that.”

Now…I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t know how that wouldn’t just get you excited right there. His plans are so in depth. He has already done so much in just ONE month as president to beef up our minor leagues and explains vividly why he hasn’t made moves in the majors yet. I think this gives all the fans a sigh of relief to know that its not something he is forgetting, and is on a to-do list that is miles long. Oh, and just so everyone knows he’s not blowing smoke, he’s already delivered. Today, the Dodgers DID sign their first round pick Corey Seager to a $2.35 Million deal, and they also signed international Cuban prospect Yasiel Puig to a 7 year, $42 Million deal. He said they were going to be aggressive, and they have been. This interview was before any of those signings had been made too. So you can bet that all of the other things he mentioned, he plans on delivering. It’s a very exciting time to be a Dodger fan.

Kevin Kennedy from Dodger Talk always loves taking questions from fans about players that could potentially be a trading target for us. Obviously, Stan can’t comment on specific players because that would be tampering, but Kevin Kennedy can. A caller brought up the name Mike Moustakis to him, and Kevin brought up the fact to the caller that Moustakis had just recently been locked down for the Royals and won’t be available. Dodgers will, however, be looking at “bottom feeders,” as he put it, to deal with. When this was brought up to Stan, he had this to say:

“Well let me say this, (laughing) as a management guy, I don’t like thinking of teams as “bottom feeders.” They are “building” teams, or “rebuilding” teams, but they are at a different stage of their process. We are the Dodgers. We are full of Dodger pride that we have earned over a century of baseball. We expect more here; everyone expects more of me, and I get that. We’re not one of those building teams, we’re a team that needs to go for it right now, and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”

Going off of that Dodger pride, the point came up that this lineup that is filled with utility players being used as everyday players is not a lineup that fans can be proud of. Being swept by the Giants without scoring runs is a terrible feeling, and watching games, day in and day out without scoring runs is, being completely honest, embarrassing. The other point was that we have old, tired players in the lineup as well. Long story short, it’s a really tough lineup to be behind and support for the fans. Again, Stan was not hesitant to take on the criticism:

“Well let me say a couple things about that (that phrase seemed to be a trend when he answered a question) First of all, I know how you’re feeling. You’re feeling like I’m feeling given how the last ten games have gone (1-9). Two weeks ago, we were feeling pretty darn good about this same group of players that you just mentioned. And secondly, on the front office’s behalf, and on the manager’s behalf, let’s remember all that led up to the acquisition of those players, whether they were acquired last year, or through this winter, and the circumstances that the front office had (referring to the confusing ownership situation of course). And I think going forward, it’s a new day with a little more resources, with a little more aggressive philosophy than they’ve been able to have recently, and I don’t think I need to say more about that. So I hear what you’re saying. There IS a value to a veteran bench. We’ve had many nights this year, where our veteran bench has really come through and, in fact, until two weeks ago, they were doing it regularly all season, so lets give them that credit. But I hear you moving forward, and there is nothing I like more than young talent. You need to have that pipeline, and every team that has had sustained success did so on a foundation of young talent. It’s what we don’t have here quite as much as I’d like, to be frank, and it’s what we need to build and we have turned our attention to that. But we’re not waiting for them to get here! If we need to go out and find reinforcements, we’re going to aggressively seek them out right now.”

One last quick point that was brought up, was that even though Stan can’t mention any one player by name, as generically as possible, could he say if he anticipated any type of move before the deadline:

“Well I anticipate trying, ya know? I mean it takes two to make a deal. I know we’re going to be aggressive. It won’t be a matter of resources as I’ve described to you before. At the trade deadline, the currency that is most valuable is not money, it’s prospects…and there are a number of teams that are deeper in those than we are, frankly. So that’s why you need to build that organization up, not just to build the pipeline and use players yourself, but to use as currency to improve your team in other ways. So we’ll see if we’ll be successful in doing so. I can tell you that our front office has a mandate from me, and from Mark, and from Magic, to be as aggressive as they can in acquiring other players. My guess is we will find things to do and I can promise that we will be working hard at accomplishing that.”

Sigh of relief, right? I know it is for me. He is an incredibly smart man, and I am so proud to say that he is in charge of leading this team to becoming a dynasty again. He has a definitive plan, even if he can’t give all the details he would probably like. I wanted to make sure that all fans have access to as much of Stan as humanly possible. It’s nice to know what your president is doing and to pick his brain a little bit. I hope you all found this as informing as I imagined.

Be sure to follow Dodgers Insider on Facebook and Twitter for more up-to-date news and rumors about your Boys in Blue. Go Dodgers!

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