When, in 1959, the Los Angeles Dodgers honored Roy Campanella, one of the stars on the Brooklyn team, he was wheeled onto the field for a ceremony of lighting candles in his honor. (He had been injured in a car accident leaving him paralyzed.) Vin Scully stood, and in tribute, spoke these memorable words:
“The lights are now starting to come out, like thousands and thousands of fireflies, starting deep in center field, glittering to left, and slowly, the entire ballpark. A sea of lights at the Coliseum. Let there be a prayer for every light, and wherever you are, maybe you, in silent tribute to Roy Campanella, can also say a prayer for his well-being. Campanella, for thousands of times, made the trip to the mound to help somebody out: a tired pitcher, a disgusted youngster, a boy perhaps who had his heart broken in the game of baseball. And tonight, on his last trip to the mound, the city of Los Angeles says hello.”
Honorary Doctorate from Alma Mater
In May, 2000, Vin Scully received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Fordham University. In his address to the graduates, he shared some memories of his years at Fordham. . . . “I was once you. I walked the halls you walked. I sat in the same classrooms. I took the same notes and sweated out the final exams. I played sports on your grassy fields. I hit a home run here—in Jack Coffey Field against CCNY—the only one I ever hit.”
Fordham, he said, evoked three words for him: home, love and hope. Home, because he spent eight years at Fordham both in the preparatory school and as an undergraduate. Love, because he made lifelong friends, and hope because Fordham is where his dreams thrived.
He urged all present “to take some time away from the craziness around you to foster the things that are important. Don’t let the winds blow away your dreams or your faith in God. And remember, sometimes your wildest dreams come true.”
In presenting the award, Michael T. Gillan, dean of Fordham College of Liberal Studies, noted that “when Jesuit schoolmasters developed their plan of studies in the 16th and 17th centuries, they defined “the goal of Jesuit education as eloquentia perfecta … which connotes a mastery of expression that is informed by good judgment and consistent principles. Those Jesuit schoolmasters of another age, if they had known anything about baseball, would certainly have approved the rhetorical gifts of the man who has been the voice of the Dodgers for the past fifty-one years, Vincent E. Scully.”
The Scully Anaphora
For years, every Scully broadcast has repeated the same avuncular opening: “It’s time for Dodger baseball! Hi, everybody, and a very pleasant afternoon/evening to you, wherever you may be. Pull up a chair and relax;” The poet-philosopher announced the games painting vivid word pictures with his musical voice, tinged with Irish inflection.
Scully held himself to three rules: Avoid criticizing managers and umpires; keep your personal opinions to yourself; avoid using clichés to describe a play. The Scully trademark, he insists, is silence—silence to allow the roar of the crowd to touch the listening audience.
Scully in His Own Words
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There are numerous quotes attributed to Mr. Scully. In describing Tom Glavine as a strike-out pitcher, he mused: “He’s like a tailor, a little off here, a little off there, and you’re done, take a seat.” The talent of Stan Musial of the St. Louis Cardinals amazed Scully: “How good was Stan Musial? He was good enough to take your breath away.”
Vin was known to spin some philosophy out of the play at the moment. In 1991, he remarked: “Andre Dawson has a bruised knee and is listed as day-to-day (Pause). Aren’t we all?”
Then there were his philosophical quips: “Good is not good enough when better is expected.” “Statistics are used much like a drunk who uses a lamp post—for support, not illumination.” “Losing feels worse than winning feels good.”
One day, when Vin joked that Joe Torre might be apprehensive about returning from third base to catcher after getting hit by a foul tip. “If he were apprehensive, Torre would forever be known as “Chicken Catcher Torre.” At this, the crowd groaned.
Listed among Vin Scully’s many awards are:
1976 Most Memorable Personality in L.A. Dodger history by Dodger fans
1982 Induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame as the Ford C. Frick Award recipient.
Four times, voted as the country’s Outstanding Sportscaster.
Twenty-two times voted, as California Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.
2009 NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame
2009 Ambassador Award of Excellence by the LA Sports & Entertainment Commission
2014 The Gabriel Personal Achievement Award from the Catholic Academy of Communication Professionals.