Major Leagues: Scully gives baseball a special gift

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 2, 2012

By Ray McNulty
Scripps Howard News Service
VERO BEACH, Fla. — The best baseball news of the past weekend didn’t produce the coast-to-coast headlines it deserved, so, chances are, folks might not have heard.
Even in Vero Beach, Fla.
Even in a town that occupies such a nostalgic place in the man’s heart.
Even in a community where, for a few wonderful weeks each winter, he was as recognizable and beloved as any of the players and managers who made spring training at Dodgertown something special.
Vin Scully, as much a baseball poet as a play-by-play broadcaster, has decided to return to the booth in 2013 for a 64th season with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
And for anyone who knows and loves baseball — for anyone who has spent a summer afternoon or evening listening to him talk us through a game — his announcement Sunday at Dodger Stadium was a reason to smile, an unexpected treat, a gift.
When Scully signs off for the final time, it will be the end of an era. He is one of a kind. He knows the game, loves the game and his affection for the game remains infectious. He is still, at age 84, the most compelling storyteller in baseball, where such stories are as much a part of the game’s appeal as anything that happens on the field.
Simply put: He’s the best.
The best ever.
Scully is to baseball broadcasting what Dodgertown was to spring training. And trust me: He’d like that analogy.
“Vin was such an integral part of Dodgertown through the years, going all the way back to the Brooklyn days,” Craig Callan, who ran the complex for the Dodgers for 30 years and still oversees the all-purpose sports facility for the new O’Malley-led ownership group, said to me a few years back. “Many of the people living here now first heard of Vero Beach through his voice as he called the games from spring training.”
In fact, I ran into him at Shea Stadium for a Dodgers-New York Mets playoff game in 2006 and his face lit up when I mentioned Dodgertown.
“For me, personally,” Scully said, “there’s no place in the world that holds more memories than Vero Beach.”
For me, personally, there’s no voice in the world that holds more baseball memories than Scully’s.
And thanks to Magic Johnson, Stan Kasten and the other new owners who rescued the foundering franchise from the Frank McCourt debacle — and who have taken on big-money player contracts in an attempt to bring a World Series back to L.A. — Dodgers fans in Southern California will get to enjoy Scully’s oratory for at least another summer.
“They want to win, and they want to win now,” Scully said Sunday during a news conference before the Dodgers’ game against the Miami Marlins. “So I want to hold on with two hands and see how far they’re going to take this ball club.”
He’ll continue to work a scaled-back schedule that limits his road trips to those within California and Arizona, but he said he would like to make a trip to Yankee Stadium next June — because he began his career in New York in 1950 with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Unfortunately, he made no mention of any trips to Vero Beach.
But if he does, I promise you: It’ll make headlines.
In Vero Beach, at least.