There is something in the tenor of the announcer’s voice that instantly relaxes. He calls baseball games the way writers pen the great American novel. He packs in little stories about every player, visiting or home, around the edges of description of game action and informative statistics that always feel natural and easy, as if the 84-year-old was reading a script.
I’m not a Dodgers fan, but I sure am a Vin Scully fan. He sounds like summer. He makes you want to throw up the window and let the humidity creep in through the storm screen, close your eyes and let Vin render the national pastime with genteel grace.
He must be a hard worker. Press crews assemble notes, but a fellow has to read them and then figure out when to tell the story about Atlanta Braves’ starter Michael Minor’s confrontation with his college coach at Vanderbilt or mention the 23-year-old lefty is from Chapel Hill, Tenn., “a small town with about two stop lights, a drive through and a gas station.”
It’s useless information, of course, but, gosh, it’s entertaining. Scully sounds the perfect gentleman, completely at ease yet sharp and witty. Every inning, Scully offers one or two one-liners that would be career gems for most broadcasters, but just the nightly conversation with Scully.
When describing an injury in the Dodgers’ bullpen during a recent game, he notes, “So it’s not all beer and Skittles for Don Mattingly,” the Dodgers’ manager. When a Braves slugger strikes out on a pitch at his eyeballs and tries to upper cut the pitch, Scully describes it as “a compound fracture.” A speedy runner hustling between first and second is “a rabbit loses on the bases.” He notes Dan Uggla’s last name dates back centuries to Swedish nobleman, a cautionary tale to those who would mock the Braves’ second baseman.
A teammate of mine from Winterset Little League, a fellow bench warmer, is a high-rolling accountant in Los Angeles. He says Vin Scully has lost a step or two in his 63rd year of broadcasting. He misses a detail here or there or calls the wrong inning. I don’t hear Scully enough to know if that’s true or not.
People like to complain about imperfection. It’s fun to point out flaws. Critics said the same thing about Pat Sumerall, the great play-by-play pro football man who worked alongside John Madden for so many years. That happens. Everybody gets old. Nothing lasts forever.
But Scully and Summerall, I’d prefer to hear their smooth, steady voices — even with a few misses here and there — than one of these angry, snark-spewing talk radio hosts who erupt in negativity in every direction and whose only goal seems to be to find the next great withering put-down for ballplayers.
Baseball, as with all sports, are supposed to be fun. They call it a pastime. There’s no clocks. There’s no rush. It’s just a quiet way to spend a summer afternoon and evening.
And if Scully is behind the microphone, it’s always beer and Skittles.