Hall of Famer Vin Scully, whose bland tones provided the summer’s soundtrack while entertaining and informing Dodgers fans in Brooklyn and Los Angeles for 67 years, died Tuesday night. He was 94.
Scully died at his home in the Hidden Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, the team said after being notified by family members. No cause of death was given.
“He was the best there was ever,” pitcher Clayton Kershaw said after the Dodgers game in San Francisco. “Just such a special man. I am thankful and thankful that I got to know him so well.”
As the longest tenure broadcaster with a single team in professional sports history, Scully saw everything and said everything. Beginning in the 1950s with Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson, he continued into the 1960s with Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax, into the 1970s with Steve Garvey and Don Sutton, and through the 1980s with Orel Hershiser and Fernando Valenzuela. In the 1990s it was Mike Piazza and Hideo Nomo, followed in the 21st century by Kershaw, Manny Ramirez and Yasiel Puig.
“You gave me my Wild Horse name. you gave me love You hugged me like a father.” tweeted Puig, the talented Cuban-born outfielder who burned bright in his Dodgers debut in 2013. “I will never forget you, my heart is broken.”
The Dodgers changed players, managers, executives, owners — and even coasts — but Scully and his soothing, insightful style remained a constant for fans.
He opened broadcasts with the familiar greeting: “Hello everyone and a very pleasant good evening, wherever you may be.”
Always lovable both in person and on the air, Scully saw herself merely as an intermediary between the game and the fans.
“His voice played a memorable role in some of the greatest moments in our sport’s history,” said Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball commissioner. ”
After the Dodgers’ 9-5 win, the Giants posted a tribute to Scully on the video board.
“There’s no better storyteller and I think everyone treats him as family,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “He was in our living rooms for many generations. He has lived an amazing life, a legacy that will live on forever.”
Despite being paid by the Dodgers, Scully wasn’t afraid to criticize a bad game or a manager’s decision, or praise an opponent while telling stories against a backdrop of veteran plays and notable accomplishments. He always said he wanted to see things with his eyes, not his heart.
“We’ve lost an icon,” said team president and CEO Stan Kasten. “His voice will always be heard and etched into our memories forever.”
Vincent Edward Scully was born on November 29, 1927 in the Bronx. He was the son of a silk seller who died of pneumonia when Scully was 7 years old. His mother moved the family to Brooklyn, where red-haired, blue-eyed Scully played stickball on the street.
As a child, Scully would grab a pillow, put it under the family’s four-legged radio, and put his head directly under the speaker to hear what college football game was on. With a snack of salty crackers and a glass of milk nearby, the boy was mesmerized by the goose bumps roar of the crowd. He thought he’d like to call the action himself.
Scully, who played outfield on Fordham University’s baseball team for two years, began his career working on baseball, football and basketball games for the university radio station.
At the age of 22, he was hired by a CBS affiliate in Washington, DC
He soon joined Hall of Famers Red Barber and Connie Desmond in the Brooklyn Dodgers’ radio and television booths. In 1953, at age 25, Scully became the youngest person to air a World Series game, a mark that still stands.
He moved west with the Dodgers in 1958. Scully named three perfect games — Don Larsen in the 1956 World Series, Sandy Koufax in 1965, and Dennis Martinez in 1991 — and 18 no-hitters.
He was also on the air when Don Drysdale went on his scoreless innings streak of 58 2/3 innings in 1968, and again when Hershiser broke the record of 59 consecutive scoreless innings 20 years later.
When Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s record with his 715th home run in 1974, it was against the Dodgers and of course Scully said.
“A black man gets a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking an all-time baseball idol record,” Scully told the audience. “What a wonderful moment for baseball.”
Scully called the birth of the transistor radio “the biggest breakthrough” of his career. During the Dodgers’ first four years at the massive Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, fans had trouble identifying the weaker players.
“They were about 70 rows from the action,” he said in 2016. “They brought the radio to catch up on all the other players and see what they were trying to watch on the field.”
This habit was picked up when the team moved to Dodger Stadium in 1962. Fans held radios to their ears, and those not in attendance listened at home or in the car, allowing Scully to connect generations of families with his words.
He often said it’s best to describe a big piece quickly and then be quiet so fans could listen to the chaos. After Koufax’s perfect match in 1965, Scully fell silent for 38 seconds before speaking again. He was similarly silent for a time after Kirk Gibson’s narrow home run to win Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.
He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame that year, and had the stadium’s press box named after him in 2001. The street leading to the main gate of Dodger Stadium was named in his honor in 2016.
That same year he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.
“God was so good to me that he allowed me to do what I do,” said Scully, a devout Catholic who attended mass on Sundays before going to the stadium before retiring. “A childhood dream that came true and then gave me 67 years to enjoy every minute of it. This is quite a big Thanksgiving for me.”
In addition to being the voice of the Dodgers, Scully called play-by-play for NFL games and PGA Tour events, as well as 25 World Series and 12 All-Star games. He was NBC’s lead baseball announcer from 1983 to 1989.
Although Scully was one of the nation’s most-listened-to broadcasters, he was an intensely private man. Once baseball season was over, he would be gone. He rarely made personal appearances or sports talk shows. He prefers to spend his time with his family.
In 1972, his first wife, Joan, died of an accidental drug overdose. He was left with three young children. Two years later, he met the woman who would become his second wife, Sandra, a secretary for the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams. She had two young children from a previous marriage, and they bonded their families into what Scully once called “my own Brady bond.”
He said he’s realized that time is the most precious thing in the world and that he wants to use that time to be with his loved ones. In the early 1960s, with help from his family, Scully quit smoking. In the shirt pocket where he kept a pack of cigarettes, Scully slipped a family photo. Whenever he felt he needed a cigarette, he pulled out the photo to remind him why he quit. Eight months later, Scully never smoked again.
After retiring in 2016, Scully only made a handful of appearances at Dodger Stadium, and his sweet voice could be heard occasionally narrating a video that played during games. Most of the time he was content to stay close to home.
“I just want to be remembered as a good man, an honest man and one who lived up to his own beliefs,” he said in 2016.
In 2020, Scully auctioned off years of his personal memorabilia, raising over $2 million. A portion of this was donated to UCLA for ALS research.
He was preceded in death by his second wife Sandra. She died of complications from ALS in 2021 at the age of 76. The couple, who were married for 47 years, had one daughter, Catherine.
Scully’s other children are Kelly, Erin, Todd and Kevin. One son, Michael, died in a helicopter crash in 1994.