Legendary broadcaster Vin Scully watched a moving truck last week take away many of his prized possessions from his home for an auction Sept. 23. Included was everything from his plaques and awards to World Series rings to an autographed book from Theodore Roosevelt and balls and bats from baseball greats to his own scorebooks.
“The primary goal is to raise money and give it to the children,” said Scully, who has five children, 16 grandchildren and three great grandchildren. “I’d rather help them now when I can see and feel their joy as opposed to the grave when I miss out.”
The most painful moment, Scully, 92, said, was watching his golf clubs being loaded. He and his wife, Sandi, were passionate about playing the sport — he was a 12-handicap golfer with three hole-in-ones on his career scorecard — but now he won’t play again.
Vin Scully addresses Dodger Stadium before Game 2 of the 2017 World Series. (Photo: Richard Mackson, USA TODAY Sports)
“There were a lot of bits and pieces leaving the house — some a little more memorable than others, and I was just fine,” Scully said. “But when I saw those golf clubs going into the truck, I felt a twinge of sadness. To watch those golf clubs leave, it’s like a door closing a major part of my life.”
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Scully is no longer is on the airwaves, retiring four years ago after 67 years of calling the Dodgers, World Series, Super Bowls and golf, but when he talks, well, go ahead, pull up a chair and listen.
Here are the highlights of an hour-long conversation Friday that felt more like five seconds.
ON THE STRUGGLES IN AMERICA
“I believe with all of my heart and soul this is the greatest country God put on earth. Being great, you have to have problems that are equally great. It’s really hard right now, but I’m just so confident that with the greatness of the country, and the greatness of people, we can take a few knocks and keep on going.
“It’s like baseball. We’ve been knocked down, but like all good hitters, we’re going to get back up, brush ourselves off, and get back to playing ball. This country is too great not to get it done.”
“It was so painful to see for so long. It would make you shudder. I remember we were playing in old Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis. There was a high foul ball by the first-base stands. Gil Hodges went over. Jackie came over to back up. And someone threw a whiskey bottle out of the upper deck. The whiskey bottle landed right between them. I remember Gil patting Jack on the back, and saying, “Hey, you’re not alone. I’m with you.’
“I remember my first year, it was shocking. We would get off the train in St. Louis and go to the Chase Hotel. It was a pretty good drive. Then, suddenly, we would stop on the street corner, and the Black players would grab their suitcases and get off the bus. I asked, “Where are they going?’ I was told, ‘Oh, there’s a very nice doctor in St. Louis and he makes arrangements at a Black hotel where they could stay.’ Finally, Don Newcombe and Roy Campanella convinced Chase management, ‘Hey, we’re just like anybody else.’ Jackie said, ‘I’m not going in there begging.’
Well, they eventually let them in, but I remember Newk saying the first time they were allowed in, they were not allowed to go to public rooms or use the pool. They went through a humbling experience. It was a tough time.”
FAVORITE ROBINSON STORY
“We were pretty good friends, and it’s in the wintertime, and the Dodgers asked me to go to Grossinger’s Resort in the Catskill Mountains. I was a kid (24), and I brought my ice skates to skate. Who did I bump into in the parking lot: Jackie and [wife] Rachel. She was like seven months pregnant. Jackie saw me with my skates and said, ‘My gosh, you going to skate? Ok, I’ll go with you.’
“I went with Jack to put on our skates, he’s lacing his skates and he says, ‘Vin, when we get there, I’d like to race you.’ I said, ‘Oh, wow, I didn’t know you skated?’ Jack said, “I never put on skates in my life.’
“That’s when I learned that the competitive fire was so entrenched in him. They took a picture of us lined up like we were going to race, but we never did.”
SHOULD THE WORLD SERIES CHAMPION HAVE AN ASTERISK?
“I would take it, no matter how many games are played. I would be thrilled. If you play 60 games, and a bunch of playoffs games, and win the World Series, I would not expect anyone to say, ‘Oh, but you only played 80 games?’ You take the schedule for what it is. You win, you win. I know in this city, I couldn’t think anybody would reject it as a counterfeit World Series. There’s too much work. Too much travel. It’s a tough job. Besides, I could use another ring.”
FAKE CROWD NOISE DURING GAMES
“You still hear the normal hum they have on the broadcast, but when there’s a big moment, I really miss that special roar that comes from a crowd, even more so in golf. I love to watch golf. When somebody makes a great shot on the 18th, and you know the crowd will go bananas, there’s not a sound, maybe the birds in the trees. …
“But I think they’ve done wonderful things with the sound at baseball games. I was watching a game at Wrigley Field, somebody hit a home run into the left-field bleachers, and you could swear they had a crowd out there. It was wonderful. It’s really amazing how they do it with the American ingenuity.’’
HIS MOST MEMORABLE WORLD SERIES RINGS
“The ring I wear now is the ’88 ring. That’s the Kirk Gibson ring. If I hold it up to my ear, I can hear the call of the homer.
“The ’55 ring is invaluable for a Brooklyn fan, because not only was it the first time winning in Brooklyn, but beating the Yankees.
The ’63 ring was big not only beating the Yankees, but beating them in four straight. I think that is the greatest accomplishment in Dodger history.
BASEBALL’S NEW RULES IN THIS PANDEMIC SEASON
“I think the average fan would love to get the regular season back. These doubleheaders, going only seven innings, are over too quick. If you went to a game and it lasted only two hours, you’d feel cheated. When I was working, the only people I ever heard grumble about the length of the game were the broadcasters and sportswriters. I don’t know that fans care.”
WHAT IT WILL BE LIKE AT THE MASTERS THIS YEAR?
“The crowd is what will be really missed. We’re going to miss the crowd at the 18th. You would sit there quietly at the 18th, taking notes, and all of a sudden you’d hear a muffled roar, like a cannon fire way down below, and everybody turns to look up at the scoreboard. You’d see a number that was black turn to red, or a number gets bigger. I remember Johnny Miller and Tom Weiskopf chasing Jack Nicklaus, and the people at the 18th would just go crazy seeing the numbers change. It was a roar you never heard. Just a magnificent experience. That noise will be sorely missed.’’
HIS ACCIDENT IN APRIL
“It might have been a blood pressure problem. I was going to go out and check the mail. We have a driveway, sloping downhill, and I was walking along. Well, one minute I’m walking and the next I’ve got fractured ribs, a broken nose, a concussion. They thought I broke my jaw. I did not trip. I just collapsed. Because of that, I have nurse follow me every step of the way now. I heard someone at Bel-Air [Country Club] say once, ‘We’re all one fall from a change of life.’ Boy, does that fit me to a T.’’
DAILY LIFE INSIDE THE SCULLY HOUSEHOLD
“The only social life I have is a doctor’s appointment. I haven’t left the house since the fall. I don’t want to go anywhere. I’m afraid to even drive. I can’t go to church. I watch mass on TV Sunday morning. I’m like everybody else, locked in.
“We watch a lot of sports. We’ll start late morning with some golf, leave that, go to a ballgame, leave the ballgame and go back to pick up a basketball game, and then pick up an hour of golf, and then repeat the process.
“We’ll stay up, look at the clock, and if it’s 9:30, we’ll say, ‘Ok, good luck guys, we got to go to sleep.’
“That’s our life now. When you’re coming up to 93, you have a lot of thoughts, what you’re doing, where you’ve been, but you can’t be depressed.
“Thanks to the good Lord, I have a wonderful life.”
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