Friday, September 23, 2016

My Ode to Vin Scully

After 67 season, Vin Scully is retiring at the end of the 2016 baseball season.  He has been a fixture in the lives of not only Los Angeles Dodger fans, but baseball fans all over the world. 

This is my Vin Scully story.

"It's time for Dodger baseball! 

Hi, everybody, and a very pleasant good evening to you, wherever you may be."

My parents divorced when I was 8 years old and my mom left our hometown of Springfield, OR for the bright lights and big city of Los Angeles (Hollywood to be exact).  My father was granted sole custody, but in the summer of 1978, she had two week’s visitation and I flew to Los Angeles to see her.  This was the first time that I ever heard Vin Scully on the radio, although my maternal grandmother became a fan when the Dodgers moved to the West Coast in 1958, living in Springfield did not give us the luxury of many broadcasts. 

My mom’s new boyfriend had a son, Jamie who was a year older than me and he was obsessed with the Dodgers.  We went out on my first day in Los Angeles and bought me a Dodger’s baseball cap so that I could feel like I belonged.  For two week’s that summer, we road bikes through Hollywood during the day, and sat glued to the TV or radio listening to the Dodgers at night.  Steve Yeager, Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Ron Cey, Bill Russell, Dusty Baker and Pedro Guerrero instantly became my favorite boys of summer.  The Dodgers had an amazing season that year, finishing first in the NL West.

Springfield, OR - 1978

When the two weeks in Los Angeles were over, I went back to Springfield to get ready for the 3rd grade.  It was a hard time in my life.  I missed my Mom and the memories of Los Angeles were a painful reminder of our distance…but I found a way to transport myself closer to her and to Los Angeles and into Dodger Stadium night after night, through the radio.  In a way, that made me feel closer to her and kept the memories of those two weeks close to my heart.

Radio waves travel well after dark, so it was easy to pick up a Los Angeles AM radio feed that autumn.  With a pillow over my radio, I would fall asleep listening to Vin Scully’s magical tales.  My heart was broken by the Yankees and Reggie Jackson in the World Series that year, but I was hooked on the Dodgers and have been a life long fan ever since.  

For years, I listened to the radio under my pillow or in the backyard under the summer stars and when I got older, I never stopped searching for a Los Angeles radio feed in the car, or scanning the TV schedule for a Dodger game of the week.  Always, Vin’s voice resonated.  For me, he was the sound of summer….the voice of my youth.  Whatever was happening in my life, whatever journey I was on...hearing Vin brought me home to a safe and happy place.

Dodger Stadium 2006

My mom didn’t stay in Los Angeles long, but it continued to hold a special place in my heart with Chavez Ravine taking on this almost Utopian existence.  In 2006, I finally made it back to Los Angeles and went to Dodger Stadium for the first time.  My partner, Brian and I climbed up to the Vin Scully Press Box.  The view from Dodger Stadium over downtown Los Angeles is the closest thing to heaven that I’ve ever seen.  From our seats down the third base line, I could see Vin in his booth calling the game.  That warm spring evening in Los Angeles was one of the best nights of my life.

Dodgers at Petco Park - 2007

I've been blessed to see the Dodgers not only in Dodger Stadium, but also at Petco Park in San Diego and at Safeco Field in Seattle.  I’m 47 now, and the last few years I’ve been able to get all Dodger home games through my MLB subscription... so now, I can listen to Vin whenever I want to.  The magic has never faded.

I don’t know what I will do next spring when I no longer hear his voice, listen to his stories…feel his magic.  It’s been hard to imagine what life will be like without him in the booth.  Thinking about how many grandparents, parents, kids….generations of baseball loving families have grown up listening to him.  I guess in my mind, I just thought that he would go on forever.

Dodgers at Safeco Field - 2014

I mentioned to my family that I don’t know if I can listen to Dodger games anymore...see the palm trees sway in the the setting summer sun's glare off the San Gabriel mountains.  I know I will...and I know Vin would want me to.  I know for me that it probably won't fully hit me until opening day 2017 and by then, hopefully...the thrill of the new season will take hold again.  All of us will adjust and adapt to baseball without Vin....we have too!   

What I do know is that for as long as I Vin Scully memories will stay cherished in my mind.