A.J. Ellis: How I'll describe Vin Scully to my son

ByA.J. Ellis ESPN logo
Thursday, August 18, 2016

ESPN's Buster Olney is on vacation this week, but he's still compiling roundups. View the latest roundup here.

There are two guarantees every time the Los Angeles Dodgers win a home game. First, Randy Newman's "I love L.A." will blare throughout the stadium as our fans stand to cheer and we slap hands behind the pitcher's mound in celebration of the victory. Simultaneously, my 6-year-old son, Luke, will begin his descent toward the home clubhouse. For us, securing the final out means another tally in the win column and one step closer to our postseason goals. But for Luke, a Dodger home win means only one thing: chocolate milk!

After a home win last week, Luke walked into the clubhouse and, as usual, danced his way over to my locker as our post-win playlist boomed over the speakers. Instead of his beeline to the players' lounge, he asked me a question.

"Dad, who is the man who talks about the Dodgers on TV?"

"Do you mean Vin Scully?" I replied.

"Yeah, Vin Scowee. I saw him on the elevator. He gave me a high-five and a hug. He's a nice guy."

With that, he was in search of his spoils of victory and a new fan of the "nice guy" who talks about his dad and the Dodgers.

Someday in the future, Luke will ask me about Vin. I could start by telling him about perhaps my first baseball memory -- that of a 7-year-old boy who got to stay up extra late to watch the first game of the 1988 World Series. How I can still remember Kirk Gibson slugging a 3-2 backdoor slider into the right-field pavilion. How I still remember the voice on the television telling me about the "high fly ball into right field" and how "she is gone!" But then I will tell him about how I was recently directed to watch the entire bottom of the ninth inning from that night, and how perhaps our sport's most memorable World Series home run call was actually part of the greatest half-inning ever called.

I will tell him about joining the Dodgers and how nearly all of my nights ended with me on the MLB app, listening to the highlights of our game, and the chills I got as I heard Vin utter my name describing an RBI single or throwing out a would-be base stealer or how he got me trending on Twitter. Luke will ask, "What's Twitter?" (as there is sure to be some new hip social-media device his dad will be too old to understand).

I will tell Luke about the man of faith Vin is. How I could count on him to be in our clubhouse every Sunday morning making a cup of coffee as he was on his way to mass. About how I secretly hoped he was a few minutes early so we could sit and talk in our players' lounge about anything.

I will tell him about how I built up enough courage over time to ask him a sarcastic question. I asked him which perfect game was his favorite to call. Was it Don Larsen's, Sandy Koufax's or Billy Chapel's? He chuckled as only Vin can chuckle and dove into a story about sitting in a studio and doing play-by-play for the movie "For Love of the Game" while watching the film on the screen.

I will definitely tell my son about being part of a nearly perfect game myself. How I was behind the plate as Clayton Kershaw threw a no-hitter and struck out 15 Colorado Rockies in June 2014. I will show him the game but also show him the link I ran across and watch regularly of Vin calling all 27 outs in the game. Hopefully he will see the way Vin allows the tension and drama to build. The way he allows the game, and especially the conclusion, to play out through the buzz of the stadium and the work of the cameras: "0 and 2 ... got him! He's done it!" That's the way Vin described the final pitch of the dominant performance. And then, 30 seconds of silence as he allowed the pictures and crowd to tell the story.

Mostly, and very regularly, I will tell Luke how special it was to be part of the Dodger organization. How the organization that gave us Jackie, Newk and Campy, Sandy and Clayton, had allowed me to wear its uniform. And while wearing that uniform, competing in front of baseball's best fans in baseball's most beautiful ballpark, I was humbled and honored to know that Vin Scully was sitting right above home plate, painting the picture of our great game and, at times, even using me as the paint for his brushstrokes.

This past Sunday I spent about 10 minutes with Vin up in his booth. I had to wait for a few moments as he was finishing up meeting with Gerrit Cole of the Pittsburgh Pirates who made the five-floor journey up to the press box to spend time with Vin in his 67th and final season as the Dodgers broadcaster. Cole joined a long list of visiting players, including Bryce Harper and David Ortiz, who wanted to say good-bye to the greatest sports broadcaster, let alone baseball broadcaster, of all time.

We posed for a picture with the perfectly manicured playing surface in the background. We chatted about family and home. I told him about my children, and he proudly told me about his 11-year-old grandson who is a young catcher. I thanked him for his time and made sure to let him know this wasn't good-bye and that I would see him around the ballpark. With that, it was time to go. We both had a ballgame to prepare for. We shook hands and hugged, just like my son had a few days before.

Related Video