by Rob Joyce
Baseball is losing its voice this week. At least, it just seems that way when Dodgers’ broadcaster Vin Scully takes off the headset for the final time in his 67-year career on Sunday. The 89-year-old, who has called Dodgers games since 1950, when they were in Brooklyn, will call his final game before he retires. Known as “Baseball’s Olivier”, Scully is baseball history in human form. Consider, when Scully began calling games, Connie Mack was still managing. Mack was born in 1860. The ties to Scully literally go back to Abraham Lincoln’s presidency.
Naturally he’s been behind the mic for some of baseball’s greatest moments. As we celebrate his unmatched career, here are Scully’s best calls:
6) “The Catch”:
He wasn’t just a baseball announcer. The Bronx native also called tennis, golf and football for CBS and NBC. His final football broadcast was the 1982 NFC Championship game, where Joe Montana found Dwight Clark in the back of the end zone. It lifted the 49ers into the Super Bowl and created a “madhouse at Candlestick”.
5) Don Larsen’s perfect game:
The Dodgers made multiple World Series appearances in the 1950s, usually against the Yankees. So Scully was on the call when Don Larsen tossed what remains the only perfect game in World Series history in 1956… that was sixty years ago!
4) Bill Buckner’s error:
It’s perhaps the most famous error in baseball history. Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, the Red Sox one strike away from their first championship since 1918, then disaster strikes. Both Mets and Red Sox fans can recite Scully’s call. “Little roller up along first…”
3) Hank Aaron’s 715th home run:
We all look back on the moment with appreciation now, but when Hank Aaron was chasing Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record things weren’t all joyous in the 1974 Deep South. Racial prejudice was at the forefront of the conversation, as Aaron received daily death threats and the like because he was an African-American chasing Ruth’s record. Scully recognized the moment on a sociopolitical level as much as a baseball level, but not before he utilized his best trait – silence. Scully has always said he was drawn to the roar of a crowd, and in the right moment he would always let the crowd tell a story.
2) Sandy Koufax’s perfect game:
Scully called three perfect games and eight no hitters. Perhaps none were as poetic as Sandy Koufax’s perfect game in 1965. This isn’t memorable for one call in particular. No, Scully’s entire ninth inning is among the greatest play-by-play segments a broadcaster can have.
1) Kirk Gibson’s walk-off:
You’d be hard-pressed to find a moment called by two better broadcasters. Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, when a gimpy Kirk Gibson came on to hit a walk-off home run off Dennis Eckersley to send Dodger Stadium into pandemonium, was called by Vin Scully on television with NBC, and Jack Buck on radio with CBS. That’s over 100 years of broadcasting excellence to call one of baseball’s greatest moments. Buck’s call of “I don’t believe what I just saw” was splendid in and of itself. Scully, after saying his trademark “She is gone!” went silent for over a minute before dropping in the perfect line for the moment: “In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened.”