Dodgers honor Vin Scully with pregame ceremony

ByDoug Padilla ESPN logo
Saturday, September 24, 2016

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers wrapped 67 years of Vin Scully's career into an hourlong on-field ceremony Friday night, and nobody seemed to mind one bit that first pitch was pushed back some 37 minutes.

Scully, the legendary broadcaster who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, will retire following next Sunday's game at San Francisco. At 88, he has just six games remaining behind the microphone, counting Friday night's 5-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies.

Going back to his first Dodgers broadcast in 1950 in Brooklyn, New York, Scully has called thousands of Dodgers games and also branched out into network golf and as an NFL announcer for a time. Among his most famous calls, he was on hand for three perfect games, including one by the Yankees' Don Larsen in the 1956 World Series.

Scully was there for L.A. Dodgers World Series championship seasons in 1959, 1963, 1965, 1981 and 1988. He called Hank Aaron's record-breaking 715th home run with the Atlanta Braves and Bill Buckner's error in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.

The first 50,000 fans in attendance Friday received a typed letter signed by Scully containing recollections from his career.

"You were simply always there for me," Scully wrote. "I have always felt that I needed you more than you needed me and that holds true to this very day. I have been privileged to share in your passion and love for this great game."

During the ceremony, the results of a fan poll revealed Scully's top call to be Kirk Gibson's dramatic home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series against the Athletics. Gibson was on the video board reciting lines from Scully's call and told the story of how he was inspired to come to the plate in that game despite two leg injuries because Scully had said on the broadcast that Gibson wouldn't play.

On-field speakers Friday included Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax, current staff ace Clayton Kershaw, Spanish-language broadcaster Jaime Jarrin and MLB commissioner Rob Manfred. But it was actor Kevin Costner who brought down the house with a dramatic speech set to music.

"We will miss you, my friend," Costner said. "We will miss you on our radio, in our cars and in our backyards. You have been a gift to Los Angeles and to baseball itself. How lucky we were that day in Brooklyn when the microphone was passed into your hands. You were the chosen one."

Costner has been a part of three iconic baseball movies, "Bull Durham," "Field of Dreams" and "For Love of the Game," a film that included Scully as a broadcaster who calls a perfect game thrown by Costner's character, Billy Chapel.

Despite taking the microphone in front of nearly 50,000 in attendance, Scully did as he always does, by seeming to talk to each person individually. But not before starting his speech with one of his more famous lines.

"Hi, everybody, and a very pleasant good evening to all of you," he said as the crowd roared upon hearing his familiar sign-on to games.

Scully thanked the players, he thanked the media, he thanked those who work in the commissioner's office, but most of all he thanked the fans.

"When I was 8 years old, I fell in love with the roar of a football crowd coming out of a speaker on an old four-legged radio," Scully said. "When you roar, when you cheer, when you are thrilled, for a brief moment, I am 8 years old again."

So now what for Scully? He was quick with a response.

"You know, if you're 65 and you retire, you might have 20 years of life left or more, and you better have some plans," Scully said. "When you're 89 [he turns it in November], and they ask you what your plans are -- I'm going to try to live."

A quick wit was always a part of Scully's arsenal, as was his incomparable and informative storytelling. As for the immediate future, he joked, "Now I am looking for a much smaller house, and a much larger medicine cabinet."

But his time at the microphone did not end until he delivered another of his signature lines.

"It's time for Dodger baseball," he said in the deliberate cadence that has helped make Scully the most beloved broadcaster of all time.

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