Over in America, the baseball season is winding down, and with it, the incredible career of 88-year-old Vin Scully. legendary commentator for the LA Dodgers. Tributes have poured in from all corners for Scully. If you've never heard of this titan of American commentary and you're asking yourself who is Vin Scully, here's why his retirement is such a big deal.
Vin Scully has been doing baseball commentary for 67 years. That's right 67 years.
How about this for job loyalty: Vin Scully did his first game in the Dodgers commentary back in 1950. In 2016, he is still working for the Dodgers. Now a lot has changed: the Dodgers now play in Los Angeles, not Brooklyn. Baseball is no longer America's pasttime. Commentators no longer do live reads of advertorials for cigarette brands. In an increasingly mad world, Americans could take heart in the fact that Scully endured as Dodgers commentator.
Who is Vin Scully? His parents came from Cavan.
It's a minor point in Scully's biography but it is still worth noting. Vin Scully is the son of Bridget and Vincent Scully, two emigrants from Cavan who moved to New York at the beginning of the 20th century. The Irish made a massive contribution to the early days of baseball and Scully is probably the most famous Irish-American commentator in the history of the game. Below is a portrait of a young Scully.
Scully owns a golden voice
Scully is an American national treasure not just because he has stayed in his job so long, but because he possesses a rare gift, that of the golden voice. He's been America's grandfather for the past three or four decades. If you mixed 20 servings of apple pie, cranberry sauce and ice cold Coca Cola and flung it into the Grand Canyon, those food and liquid particles was distill into something like the voice of Vin Scully. The LA Times called him America's most poetic sports commentator. Here's a vintage Scullyism.
"Deuces are wild. Two on, two out, two balls & two strikes to the hitter."
Listen to this story and tell me you don't want to build a baseball diamond in your nearest cornfield.
Most incredibly. Scully, in the tradition of the great baseball announcers, would commentate on games on his own, deep into his 80s.
Scully is the last link to baseball's bygone glory days
For three or four decades now, baseball has been gradually losing its foothold in the consciousness of American sports fans. Strikes, steroids and the slowness of the game have all played a role in its decline. The sport holds a romantic place in the heart of those of a certain generation though, and the voice of Scully takes fans back to the black and white era when baseball was king. Scully is baseball's last living link to those halycon days when New York had three teams.
Scully provided commentary for many of the most famous baseball moments in baseball history
In the years leading up to the baseball strike of 1994 - the year that baseball stopped being America's pasttime - Scully was NBC's main TV commentator for a number of magisterially epic World Series games. We can look back now on his call of Game 6 of the '86 World Series and Game 1 of the '88 World Series and see a master at work. Scully never shrunk from the task of describing the play taking place before him, but he knew the power of silence.
For Kirk Gibson's inexplicable home run to win Game 1 of the'88 Series, Scully pauses for 68 seconds before declaring 'in a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened'. He has balanced the power of words and the power of images better than any commentator in American sport history.
It is a sign of a commentator's greatness that it is impossible to imagine memorable plays without his narration.
By lasting so long in his job, Scully has made an impact on pop culture.
As the voice of baseball, Scully has had his delivery mocked and imitated for decades. Harry Shearer's Scully on the Simpsons was more or less spot on, and it was during a Scully commentary that Homer realised just that baseball is, indeed, boring.
Scully also provided the play-by-play in 'For The Love Of The Game' as an aging Kevin Costner took a final shot at baseball glory.
Amazingly Scully was omitted from the first Naked Gun film, when about 200 commentators announced a Dodgers-Mariners game. He later admitted to loving the film.
The LA Dodgers have won the NL West this season but Scully has said he'll be retiring when the Dodgers' regular season ends on Sunday in San Francisco. He's refused the chance to provide commentary in the playoffs because, as he told the LA Times, “otherwise, I’d be saying goodbye like in grand opera, where you say goodbye 12 different times. I’m going to say goodbye at Dodger Stadium the last game with Colorado. I will say goodbye in San Francisco. And then that will be it. And then I will go home."
Countless tributes have been paid to Scully at this stage, but none top this one from Kevin Costner.