Los Angeles Dodgers: Broadcast legend Vin Scully hopes MLB starts, panics stop

LOS ANGELES, CA - 1987: Voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers radio broadcasts, Vin Scully, poses in the outfield of Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - 1987: Voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers radio broadcasts, Vin Scully, poses in the outfield of Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
(Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images) /

Legendary Los Angeles Dodgers Broadcaster’s Message of Hope

Scully has known profound loss in his life. His first wife died of an accidental drug overdose; his oldest son was killed in a helicopter crash. He remarried happily and thus remains; his extended family at home and in baseball fortified his appreciation for the ties that bind. And, heightened his awareness of how they’re challenged on the field, off the field, and in the middle of a viral pandemic.

“For every storm, a rainbow/for every tear, a smile/for every care, a promise/and a blessing in each trial,” reads the Irish blessing Scully offered toward the end of his final broadcast almost four years ago.

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He had no idea then how that blessing might apply now when Opening Day seems a wish far more than a coming actuality. “Opening Day, everyone is full of hope, confidence, happy,” he said Sunday. If and when it comes at last, “it’ll be like the ones in 1945, ’46, when World War II ended. What an emotion that must have been.” (Scully was a member of the Navy before going to Fordham University.) “And then, all the others, Korea, Vietnam, etcetera.

“I have no idea of what to do,” Scully continued. “I’ve never experienced it. I did have a strong taste of the Depression . . . but I didn’t have any idea that this thing, more than 2008, more than SARS (in 2003), more than any of the other epidemics, nothing has affected the country like this one.”

He thinks many people will see the coronavirus bringing them closer to their spiritual faith. “You know, they might pray a little harder, a little longer, so there might be other good things to come out of it,” he said. “Certainly, I think people are easily jumping at the opportunity to help each other. I believe that’s true. So that’s kind of heartwarming, that with all of it, it brings out some goodness in people.”

It also brought out glandular panic, unfortunately. “Panic is not going to help anybody,” Scully urged. “That’s the big risk.”

But it’s also brought out humor, running the full distance from laughing that you might not weep to the gallows kind. (There are how many toilet paper gags going, if you’ll pardon the expression, viral?) Scully is only too well aware that humor is imperative even in climates where humor is too often dismissed as childish or denounced as a criminal.

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“If you can find any humor in this world, however you want to look at it, that’s awfully important,” said the man who once kept his viewers laughing while interpreting Jim Tracy, former Los Angeles Dodgers turned Colorado Rockies manager, arguing an outfield trap call on a short, sinking fly ball:

"Uh-oh. Uhhh-oh. The [umpires] meeting looks like they’re going to call it a trap, and Jim Tracy . . . [crowd noise] . . . He caught the ball, Jim says. He caught the ball. He caught the blinkin’ ball. He caught the darn ball . . . [crowd noise, as Tracy pulls his hat off and slams it to the ground two-handed] . . . oh, oh, you’re gone. Heeee’s gone . . . [crowd noise] . . . That is blinkin’ fertlizer! I’m doing the best to translate . . . you’ve gotta be blinkin’ me! . . . The ball, he caught the ball! . . . It’s unbelievable! Blinkin’ unbelievable! . . . No way! No blinkin’ way! No bloody way! Jim’s gone, so he’s spending house money now . . . [crowd noise] . . . [brief, slow-motion replay of the outfielder’s original attempted off-the-grass catch] . . . take another look, looks like it’s in the glove . . . what’s a shame, really, we have this [replay] equipment, and no one takes avail of it. I mean, they say it would slow up the game, what did that do? They could have had someone upstairs, or an umpire go and look at the tapes. Instead, big argument, the manager’s kicked out of the game, the umpires have to reverse. I’m not second guessing the reversal, they’re doing the best they think, but I’m just saying here we are, with all that equipment to show it. Want to show it again, Brad? Dustin? Take another look. How do you call it? [The play is shown again, semi-slow motion.] There’s the glove, there’s the ball, it’s in the glove, isn’t it? Didn’t it hit the webbing?"

Unlike Tracy during that argument, the biggest thing for Scully now, he says, is staying calm even as only too many around and beyond him stay anything but.

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“I know that’s very easy to say,” said the man who wasn’t baseball’s Cicero when we knew Cicero was really ancient Rome’s Vin Scully, “but I’ve been reading about lines in the big stores, and the gun shops . . . That scares me, all the guns that are being sold. So the only thing, I guess, is to pray a lot and try to stay calm. Nothing else. What else can you say?”