Baseball Memories: Vin Scully and One of His Rare Mistakes on the Air

Vin Scully, the legendary Dodgers announcer, retires at the end of the season. It’s hard to believe, but he joined the Dodgers only three years after Jackie Robinson did.

I just read a wonderful remembrance of Scully’s work by NBC Sports’ Joe Posnanski and another by Keith Olbermann.

vin-scully-young

♦ Of all the stories I’ve read about Vin, this one by Olbermann gave me the best sense of his humanity–and his ties to the men who played for the Dodgers over the years. It refers to the great First Baseman, Gil Hodges, who played early in Scully’s career and died far too young. I’ll let Olbermann take it from here:

vin-scully-oldYet if there is one memory of his work that I will always carry with me…it is of an actual Vin Scully on-air mistake. On a miserably humid night in Cincinnati in August, 1991, with Dodger catcher Mike Scioscia at bat, Scully abruptly announced “The two-oh pitch to Hodges…” ‘Hodges’ was Gil Hodges, the Dodger first baseman from before Scully joined the club through the 1961 season, later manager of the 1969 “Miracle” Mets and as of that night buried—in Brooklyn—nearly 20 years after a fatal heart attack at just 47.

The mistake was so unexpected that it was actually noted in the pages of The Los Angeles Times. And that night, during the Dodgers’ telecast from San Francisco, Scully came on the air and owned up to it. I foolishly didn’t keep the tape from that night and I seek it still, so you’ll have to accept a paraphrase.

Scully came on camera, mid-game and said (approximately), “I’m told that back home today a mistake I made the other night appeared in one of the papers. I had been thinking of the late Gil Hodges. If you don’t know, Gil Hodges was a great Dodger first baseman, and my great friend and a great man who was taken from us far too soon. And like Mike, Gil wore number fourteen. And it was awfully hot in that booth and for some reason instead of saying, ‘two-and-oh to Scioscia’ I said, ‘two-and-oh to Hodges.’ But I think the weather and the uniform number were not the only reasons I confused them. Mike reminds me a lot of my friend Gil and, like Gil, I think he may be a fine major league manager some day. Anyway, I just wanted to apologize for the mistake.”

And then Vin Scully did something that took my breath away.hodgesgil-1954topps

As the booth light went off and the telecast showed the Giants and Dodgers on the field at old Candlestick Park and the sounds of Scully switching from a hand-held microphone to his headset rustled in the background, he said something that only Vin Scully could ever say, that would turn an ordinary stumble into a timeless moment. “I wish,” he almost whispered, “I could bring Gil Hodges back that easily.”

Keith Olbermann
“Vin Scully Is a Legend, But He’s Not a Saint,” GQ

♦ To top it off, here’s Vin calling the final strike in Sandy Koufax’s perfect game in 1965. (The video is only 20 seconds.)

hat-tip-100px-w-right-margin♥ Hat tip to Joe Posnanski and Keith Olbermann for their writings
♥ With best wishes to my baseball-loving friend, Michael Mandelbaum, and to my friend, Sam Peltzman, who grew up in Brooklyn, when the Dodgers were still “Dose Bums at Ebbets Field.”

 

2 Comments
  • sam peltzman
    September 23, 2016

    one of the unmitigated pleasures of the season is watching the dodger home games.
    mlb uses the local feed, and i get to hear that great voice from my youth. once this summer with clayton kershaw pitching he intoned “and kou.. er … kershaw winds…”
    like scioscia and hodges, there is a clear similarity.

  • stephenf
    November 15, 2016

    Some people are just one-offs. Scully is squarely in that group. Grew up in L.A. listening to him. Will always be the voice I hear when I try to remember what happened in this game or that one. Decent human being, ego-free, head to toe.

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