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Los Angeles is known for many things. The perfect weather, the beautiful surf, and the Hollywood strip all come to mind when The City of Angels is mentioned.
But for those fortunate enough to grow up in LA, and who have at least a small understanding of the role that sports plays in many lives, there’s a particular person, and a particular voice, that first comes to mind.
It’s Vin Scully.
For years, it was Scully who weaved the stories of LA’s hometown heroes into the living rooms and cars of fans of the Dodgers. It was the soothing tone of Scully’s voice that taught fans the game of baseball, that brought families together after dinner, and that still to this day reminds us of home.
Dodgers’ great Steve Garvey put it perfectly Tuesday night, describing what Scully means to the city of Los Angeles.
“Every great city has sounds to it,” Garvey said on MLB Network. “And Los Angeles has had one, clear sound and that’s been the voice of Vin Scully all these years. I think some people have roads named after them, other people have towns or mountains or rivers, but Vin was above that.
“His voice has resonated, the Dodgers have been phenomenal with keeping his voice around the stadium coming in and leaving. And to hear that every day, when people walk into Dodger Stadium, is a feeling of comfort that they’ve come home as fans to Dodgers Stadium and Vin is there in spirit.”
Vin Scully passed away Tuesday evening at the age of 94, after nearly seven decades of being the voice of the game we all grew to love.
For many, the loss of Scully hit home harder than initially thought. After all, the majority of us have never met the man, let alone had the chance to speak with him. And yet, his passing felt like the loss of an old friend.
As a child growing up in the San Fernando Valley, not all that far from Dodger Stadium, the sound of Scully’s voice brings me back to a different time. To a simpler time when the game of baseball was always on the top of my mind.
For those who are unaware, the weather in Los Angeles is not perfect everywhere. The valley is hot. And when I say hot, I mean 100 degrees and up in the summer, with the beach many miles — and a horrendous drive down the 405 freeway — away.
Like many growing up during my childhood, my upbringing did not include central cooling. While I don’t want it to sound like a miserable existence — I had a wonderful childhood — the only cool place in the summer months was in my parent’s bedroom, where the lone window AC unit was placed.
In that room was also a radio.
Some of my earliest memories include silently entering my parent’s room, gulping in the cool air, and listening to the greatest baseball announcer to ever live perfectly describe what was going on just a few miles down the road at Chavez Ravine.
Scully’s style was unlike any other. He wasn’t afraid of silence, of allowing the sounds of the stadium to slowly engulf the listener to the point where you felt as if you were sitting along the third baseline, happily munching on a bag of peanuts.
Vin’s contributions to baseball will live on for many generations past his time as those who were fortunate enough to listen to him call games will pass on his story to their children and grandchildren.
It was that way for me, as my grandfather spoke so fondly of Scully throughout my childhood, often informing me of Scully’s yarn from the night before.
He managed a one-man booth during my time, completely different from today’s broadcasts, which often include three men all vying for air time. It was Vin’s show, and there’s no other way fans of baseball would have it.
He called 25 World Series, Hank Aaron’s 715th home run, 20 no-hitters and three perfect games, allowing fans outside of LA to realize his greatness.
But to the boys and girls who grew up in Los Angeles, Vin will always be the voice of the Dodgers, the voice of baseball, and the voice of our childhood.
While news of his passing is sad for everyone who calls themselves a fan of the game, I remind you of Vin’s words to us all during his final broadcast in 2016.
“Don’t be sad because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”
We’re all smiling as we remember the sound of Vin Scully’s voice, and how it brings us back to a better time when all that mattered was the sound of the stadium and the crack of the bat.
Thank you, Vin, for being the voice of baseball and the voice of my city. The game of baseball, and the city of Los Angeles, will never forget you.