Vin Scully, the legendary broadcaster who spent 67 years as the golden-throated voice of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers, has died. He was 94 years old.
The Dodgers announced his death on Tuesday. A cause of death was not initially noted.
“We have lost an icon,” Dodgers president Stan Kasten said via a statement. “Vin Scully was one of the greatest voices in all of sports. He was a giant of a man, not only as a broadcaster, but as a humanitarian.”
Scully, a Bronx native who became a baseball fan at the age of 8, began his broadcasting career at Fordham University after spending two years in the Navy. He called football and basketball games, and also played baseball, even playing a game against future president George H.W. Bush, who was on Yale University’s baseball team.
After graduating, he managed to find work as a fill-in at WTOP in Washington, DC in 1949, which ended up being his big break into sports announcing. He met Red Barber at WTOP, who would become Scully’s mentor. Barber brought him along in 1950 when he was hired by the Dodgers, and in just three years Scully became the youngest broadcaster to ever call a World Series at the age of 25.
A year later, when Barber left to work for the crosstown New York Yankees, Scully became the Dodgers’ main announcer. He remained in that role until his retirement in 2016, relocating in 1958 when the Dodgers uprooted to Los Angeles.
Scully’s most memorable calls
Over the years, Scully was at the mic for countless special moments for the Dodgers. In many of those great calls, you can hear that Scully had a skill that every great broadcaster possesses: knowing when to stay quiet.
In 2022, Scully said that Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1974 was the most important game he ever called.
Scully also named Kirk Gibson’s miraculous home run from Game 1 of the 1988 World Series as his most theatrical call.
Scully was on the mic for Don Larsen’s legendary perfect game from Game 5 of the 1956 World Series and called Sandy Koufax’s perfect game in 1965.
Some of Scully’s greatest calls weren’t related to plays at all. He was often at his best when he was telling stories and relaying information you never thought you needed to know. In his final year as a broadcaster, Scully spent nearly five minutes educating everyone about the history of beards.
Career beyond the Dodgers
While many people know Scully as the voice of the Dodgers, he lent his pipes to golf, tennis, football and non-Dodgers baseball games. He called nationally televised baseball games for NBC in the 1980s, including three World Series and several All-Star Games. He was at the mic for Game 6 of the 1986 World Series between the New York Mets and Boston Red Sox, and his voice provided the backdrop for one of the most memorable moments in World Series history.
He called football games in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and worked with John Madden during his very first year as an NFL broadcaster. When Madden died in late 2021, Scully shared his memories of Madden with NFL Network, and said that he knew right from the start that Madden had a gift for broadcasting.
“He was bigger than himself. His heart was bigger than anything else, and I loved his laugh.”@TheVinScully joins NFL Now to share his favorite memories of John Madden and what it was like working with him. pic.twitter.com/SVpafhMsAH
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) December 29, 2021
One of Scully’s most memorable football calls came from 1982, when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana found Dwight Clark in the end zone in the 1981 NFC Championship Game. That touchdown and extra point gave the Niners a one-point lead over the Dallas Cowboys with less than a minute left, and paved the way for the Niners to win the Super Bowl. That play is simply called “The Catch.”
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) August 3, 2022
Scully’s faith helped him throughout his life
Scully, a devout Catholic, also recorded the Rosary for a group called Catholic Athletes for Christ in 2016. In his 2013 interview with the National Catholic Register, he talked about how his faith helped him and his children deal with the death of his first wife, Joan, who died in 1972.
“When my wife, Joan, died in 1972 at the age of 35, I was devastated, as were our children,” Scully said. “We didn’t stop praying, though. The worst thing you can do in times of trial is to stop praying. The tough moments are when you need God the most. He’s always there and more than happy to give us his help; we need only ask for it.”
Scully remarried in 1973 to Sandi Hunt, who died of ALS in Jan. 2021. In July of that year, he told the Los Angeles Times that it was tough dealing with the loss of his “best friend,” the woman who had been by his side for nearly 50 years, but his faith again gave him comfort.
“I’m OK, I really am,” he said. “I’ve been severely wounded, but I’ve also come to grips with it. I believe it’s all God’s plans. I’m just trying to do the best that I can for as long as I have.” [...]
“I’m all right. I believe it’s God’s plan. We had wonderful times together,” he said. “He’s called Sandi home, and I’m just waiting for the call.”
Following Sandi’s death, Scully said he leaned on his three daughters, 16 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren for support.
Scully was a legend long before he retired and has been given countless awards and inducted into numerous halls of fame over the years. In 1982, he received the Ford Frick Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame, given to broadcasters for making major contributions to the sport. He was given a lifetime achievement Emmy in 1995, and was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame the same year. He’s been named California Sportscaster of the Year 33 times, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the press box at Dodger Stadium bears his name.
Despite Scully’s varied career, his legacy is Dodgers baseball. He didn’t have a partner in the booth for Dodgers games, so for several generations of Dodgers fans, his voice alone signaled the start of summer. It’s his voice young fans heard on weeknights after school let out for the summer. His voice floated in the air as fireworks dotted the sky on July 4. His voice cut through the heat on muggy August nights.
Thanks to technology, Scully’s voice will live on as long as there are people to hear it. While the latest generation of fans will grow up without his voice soundtracking their summers, they’ll be able to hear him calling legendary moments from days long past, providing a window into history, and proof that he was one of the greatest broadcasters to ever call a baseball game.