Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully, whose mellow tones formed the summer’s soundtrack as he entertained and informed Dodgers fans in Brooklyn and Los Angeles for 67 years, died Tuesday night, the team said. He was 94.
Scully died at his home in the Hidden Hills section of Los Angeles, according to the team, who spoke to relatives.
As the longest-serving single-team broadcaster in professional sports history, Scully saw it all and called it all. He started in the 1950s with Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson, in the 1960s with Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax, in the 1970s with Steve Garvey and Don Sutton, and in the 1980s with Orel Hershiser and Fernando Valenzuela. In the 1990s it was Mike Piazza and Hideo Nomo, followed by Clayton Kershaw, Manny Ramirez and Yasiel Puig in the 21st century.
The Dodgers traded players, managers, executives, owners and even shores, but Scully and his calming, insightful style remained a constant for the fans.
He opened broadcasts with the familiar greeting: “Hello everyone, and a very pleasant good evening to you wherever you are.”
Always gracious, both in person and on the air, Scully saw himself as just a conduit between the game and the fans.
Although paid by the Dodgers, Scully was not afraid to criticize a poor play or a manager’s decision, or praise an opponent as he told stories against a backdrop of routine actions and notable performances. He always said he wanted to see things with his eyes, not with his heart.
Vincent Edward Scully was born on November 29, 1927 in the Bronx. He was the son of a silk seller who died of pneumonia when Scully was 7. His mother moved the family to Brooklyn, where red-haired, blue-eyed Scully grew up playing stickball on the street.
As a child, Scully picked up a pillow, placed it under the family’s four-legged radio, and put his head directly under the speaker to hear what college football game was on. With a snack of salty crackers and a glass of milk nearby, the boy was transfixed by the crowd’s roar that caused goosebumps. He thought he would want to call the action himself.
Scully, who played two years outfield on the Fordham University baseball team, began his career playing baseball, football and basketball games for the university radio station.
At age 22, he was hired by a UKTN radio affiliate in Washington DC.
He soon joined Hall of Famer Red Barber and Connie Desmond in the radio and television booths of the Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1953, at age 25, Scully became the youngest person to broadcast a World Series game, a mark that still stands.
He moved west with the Dodgers in 1958. Scully called three perfect games Don Larsen in the 1956 World Series, Sandy Koufax in 1965 and Dennis Martinez in 1991 and 18 no-hitters.
He was also on the air when Don Drysdale recorded his scoreless run of 58 2/3 innings in 1968 and again when Hershiser broke the record with 59 consecutive scoreless innings 20 years later.
When Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run to break Babe Ruth’s record in 1974, it was against the Dodgers and of course Scully named it.
“A black man gets a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking an all-time baseball idol record,” Scully told listeners. “What a great moment for baseball.”
Scully called the birth of the transistor radio “the biggest breakthrough” of his career. Fans struggled to spot the lesser players during the Dodgers’ first four years at the sprawling Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
“They were about 70 rows away from the action,” he said in 2016. “They brought the radio to find out about all the other players and see what they were trying to see on the pitch.”
That custom was adopted when the team moved to Dodger Stadium in 1962. Fans held the radio to their ears and those not present listened from home or the car, allowing Scully to connect generations of families with his words.
He often said it was best to quickly describe a big piece and then be quiet so fans could listen to the pandemonium. After Koufax’s perfect game in 1965, Scully fell silent for 38 seconds before speaking again. He was silent for a while after Kirk Gibson’s pinch-hit home run to win Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.
He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame that year, and the stadium’s press box was named after him in 2001. The street leading to the main entrance to Dodger Stadium was named after him. in 2016.
That same year, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from US President Barack Obama.
“God has been so kind to me to allow me to do what I do,” said Scully, a devout Catholic who attended Sunday mass before going to the stadium, before retiring. “A childhood dream come true and then gave me 67 years to enjoy every minute of it. That’s a pretty big Thanksgiving Day for me.”
In addition to voting for the Dodgers, Scully called for play-by-play for NFL games and PGA Tour events, as well as 25 World Series and 12 All-Star Games. From 1983 to 1989, he was the chief baseball announcer for NBC.
Although Scully was one of the most overheard broadcasters in the nation, he was an intensely private man. Once the baseball season was over, he would disappear. He rarely did personal appearances or sports talk shows. He preferred to spend time with his family.
In 1972, his first wife, Joan, died of an accidental drug overdose. He was left with three young children. Two years later, he met the woman who would become his second wife, Sandra, a secretary for the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams. She had two young children from a previous marriage, and they combined their families into what Scully once called “my very own Brady Bunch.”
He said he realized that time was the most precious thing in the world and that he wanted to use his time to spend with his loved ones. In the early 1960s, Scully quit smoking with the help of his family. In the pocket of his shirt where he kept a pack of cigarettes, Scully stuck a family photo. Whenever he felt like he needed a cigarette, he pulled out the photo to remind him why he quit. Eight months later, Scully never smoked again.
After retiring in 2016, Scully made only a handful of appearances at Dodger Stadium and his sweet voice could be heard as he narrated an occasional video played during matches. Most of the time he was content to stay close to home.
“I just want to be remembered as a good man, an honest man and someone who lived up to his own beliefs,” he said in 2016.
In 2020, Scully auctioned off years of his personal memorabilia, raising more than $2 million. Some of it was donated to UCLA for ALS research.
He was preceded in death by his second wife, Sandra. She died of complications from ALS in 2021 at the age of 76. The couple, who had been married for 47 years, had daughter Catherine together.
Scully’s other children are Kelly, Erin, Todd and Kevin. A son, Michael, died in a helicopter crash in 1994.