Vin Scully greets a fan — then-eight-year-old Joshua Friedman — at the Hall of Fame broadcaster's 1997 tribute ceremony.
Vin Scully, the iconic voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers for sixty-seven years, passed away at the age of ninety-four on August 2, 2022. The Hall of Fame broadcaster entertained and informed Dodger fans, and was regarded by many as the definitive word on every play.
"There could be 50,000 fans, and the batter hits to right-center and slides into third and the referee says he's safe. But the fans don't believe it until Vin Scully says he's safe," said former Tom Lasorda, former Dodger vice-president and manager.
On November 20, 1997, the Television Academy held a tribute for Scully at the Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre — later replaced by the Saban Media Center and Wolf Theatre.
The evening drew hundreds of Scully devotees, including members of the Dodger organization, fellow broadcasters, civic leaders and baseball greats.
In this Academy News article from 1998, writer Sandra J. Parker describes an evening filled with heartfelt words of gratitude for the man who set a standard for sports announcers and storytellers everywhere.
From presidents to players to the peanut man, they came to declare Vin Scully the best. For hours, they described him as the poet laureate, the Picasso, the best baseball storyteller in the world.
Finally, it was Scully's turn at the podium.
"It's only me," he said, with genuine humility after a long standing ovation. Then, with characteristic wit, added, "You were probably expecting an older man."
The tribute to radio and television announcer Scully was held November 20 at ATAS's Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre. The evening celebrated Scully's forty-eight years with the Los Angeles Dodgers and his many achievements, including winning an Emmy and being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Despite the accolades and three standing ovations, Scully remained humble throughout the evening and made only brief remarks. "There are many other men who could have filled the role God gave to me," said Scully, who also thanked his wife for supporting him.
After telling a story about an [Indigenous] brave who climbed so high on a mountain that he could see the sea, Scully said, "Tonight, I have seen the sea. For that I will be eternally grateful."
On a panel offering tributes were Tom Lasorda, Dodger vice-president, former Dodger manager, and recent inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame; Jaime Jarrin, the Spanish-language voice of the Dodgers; Ann Drysdale, basketball Hall of Famer, television analyst, and widow of Dodger pitcher and announcer Don Drysdale; and Bill Dwyre, sports editor at the Los Angeles Times. KTLA sports announcer Ed Arnold moderated the discussion. Vocalist Sue Raney performed "Dodger Blue."
"He never lost the common touch," said Jeff Rose, who produced the event and recalled spending many "magical, unforgettable days and nights" listening to Scully when the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn, New York.
In 1957 Los Angeles managed to draw the Dodgers and Scully west. "It was the best thing that ever happened to this city," said Roz Wyman, who served on the Los Angeles City Council when the Dodgers came to L.A. and played a major role in the move. "It was a battle royal." The issue was put on a ballot before the Los Angeles voters. On the day of the vote, Scully was announcing a game, and the broadcast featuring his baritone voice spinning stories about the game clinched the referendum's success, Wyman said.
Of Scully's many qualities praised that evening, the most celebrated was his ability to describe details beyond the pitches and hits of the game. "He's a heavyweight champion of phraseology. If a dog wanders onto the field, I want to hear Vinnie describe it," said Tommy Hawkins, former NBA standout and now a Dodger vice-president.
Hawkins drew a big laugh from the audience of more than 500 when he described Scully as "the guy next door who knows what the hell he's talking about." Hawkins also recalled Scully's narration of the mood and the sky as well as the game details when Sandy Coufax pitched a perfect game. "It was so incredible," he said. "If Vinnie had been a painter, he would have been a Rembrandt or a Picasso. Vinnie makes the ultimate appeal to the mind's eye."
Dwyre remembered when he first heard Scully on the radio. "You have to remember that my standard was [baseball player-turned-announcer Bob] Uecker. I was used to paint-by- numbers and now I had Picasso."
"You paint pictures with words," said radio personality Michael Jackson in a taped message. "You are simply the best, an original, the master."
"He's the poet laureate of our business," said sports announcer Dick Enberg.
In a letter read by Wyman to the audience, President Bill Clinton said of Scully, "Your masterful play-by-play descriptions have captured some of baseball's more memorable moments."
Lasorda, always the witty storyteller, entertained the crowd with funny descriptions of how Scully used to boost the former manager's spirits after losing a game. "I have never seen him dejected for one minute," Lasorda said. "Vin Scully spread his enthusiasm throughout the Dodger team."
Once, after the Dodgers fell to Atlanta, Lasorda said he "was looking for some bridge to jump off of." Back at the hotel, Scully persuaded Lasorda to come up to his room for some champagne. The hotel didn't sell bubbly by the bottle, so Scully said, "Okay, bring me sixty glasses." Lasorda noted that Scully, who has been rated the most popular Dodger in fan polls, is so admired by the fans that they are more apt to believe him than the umpires.
"There could be 50,000 fans, and the batter hits to right-center and slides into third and the referee says he's safe. But the fans don't believe it until Vin Scully says he's safe," Lasorda said.
Other accolades came via videotape and letters from the late baseball announcer Red Barber; former Dodger manager Walter Alston; former President Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy; former President George Bush; the late comedian Danny Kaye; actor Tom Selleck; political columnist George Will and former Dodger "Sweet" Lou Brown. Also present in the audience were Dodger president Peter O'Malley; former Dodger great Tommy Davis; Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray; and Roxie Campanella, the widow of Hall of Fame Dodger catcher Roy Campanella.
Los Angeles City Attorney James Hahn, whose father Kenneth Hahn was instrumental in bringing the Dodgers to L.A., presented Scully with a proclamation. Scully "made us fall in love with that team even though they weren't doing well," Hahn said. "Thank you for sharing your love of baseball with all of us."
Tom LaBonge, special projects director to Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, also honored Scully with a proclamation. "Nobody has done a better job of promoting this City of Angels," he said.
This article originally appeared in emmy magazine issue #1, 1998, under the title, "ATAS Tips Hat to Dodgers' Scully."