By Greg Fuchs
Iconic broadcaster Vin Scully passed away this week at the age of 94. Although Scully did plenty of national network broadcasting covering baseball, football and golf, he is best remembered for being the voice of the Dodgers. He started covering Dodgers games back in 1950 when they were still in Brooklyn and concluded his 67-year Dodgers career in 2016.
Over the past few days ESPN and the MLB Network have done a marvelous job recounting Scully’s career and showing replays of his most famous play by play calls. But there were 2 stories that didn’t make it to the ESPN and MLB Network airways that I’d like to share with you.
The first story involves the one time I “met” Vin in person. It was the day after I got married in April 1997. As a south Florida resident, my wife & I spent the first 2 days of our honeymoon at a hotel on the beach in Ft. Lauderdale before we left for California & Hawaii.
We had made last minute changes to our flights and not wanting to run the risk of a potential ticket snafu, we went to the airport the day before our departure to get our new tickets (this was back in the day of physical tickets).
As we were getting our new tickets, we noticed a bit of a commotion in the line next to us. When I looked to my right, I was surprised to see the one and only Vin Scully. Apparently, Vin couldn’t get his ticket because he didn’t have any ID on him.
The airline representative made it clear to Scully that he couldn’t give him a ticket without proper identification. Scully said he had none, as he had left his wallet in the hotel back in Atlanta. “Do you have a driver’s license?” the rep queried. “No” said Scully. “How about a passport?” “No” again said the now getting irritated Scully.
“How about a credit card? A library card?” “No and no” said Scully with his face turning red.
It was obvious the airline rep had no clue who Scully was. I was bit surprised Scully hadn’t dropped the “Do you know who I am?” line, but he remained semi patient. I was about to intercede and inform the airline representative of who he was talking to when in exasperation he made one last request.
“Don’t you have any ID?” he implored. At this point, the now angry Scully made a fist with his left hand and thrust it towards the hapless airline rep whereupon Scully said, “How about a 1981 World Series ring!”.
“Thank you, Mr. Scully. Here is your ticket” replied the airline representative, who apparently had a fondness for large rings. Crisis averted along with my opportunity to intervene on Scully’s behalf.
Vin Scully story number two occurred in 2018 when my wife & I decided to do a July 4th staycation in Vero Beach, FL. As many Dodgers fans will recall, Vero Beach was the spring training home of the Dodgers from 1953-2008.
On the morning of July 4th my wife and I decided to drive around Vero Beach when we noticed a sign for Dodger Town. Although I was familiar with the history of Dodger Town, I had no idea what condition the facility was in or if we’d be allowed in. But we figured we’re here, so let’s check it out.
We were able to drive right in and parked 5 feet from Holman Stadium. We were prepared for some crazed stadium attendant to come out screaming at us to move the car and to get out, but there wasn’t a soul around. No employees. No tourists. Just my wife and I to bask in the glory of Dodger Town.
We walked into the stadium and sat in the small press box from which I imagined Scully had called many a spring training game. Although the stadium showed some age, the baseball diamond was still immaculately manicured. My mind was transported into a portal where I imagined Scully extolling the talents of Dodgers greats Sandy Kofax, Jackie Robinson, Gil Hodges, Roy Campanella and Pee Wee Reese.
We then walked around the complex which includes multiple practice fields as well as the hotel where the Dodgers players stayed during spring training. It was a step back in time as you could tell very little had changed other than the maintenance of the ball fields. There were still wooden benches for the players which were probably installed back in 1953.
As we walked around, we realized all the streets are named after Dodgers greats such as Vin Scully Way and Duke Snider Drive. Despite the hot July 4th temperatures, walking around Dodger Town gave me chills realizing the history of the complex and all of the great players who had played there. They even had a wall with baseball cards showing all the iconic visiting ballplayers who had played there back in the day.
If you are a baseball fan, do yourself a favor and put a visit to Dodger Town on your bucket list. You will capture a bit of the Field of Dreams vibe, although you will be in Florida, not Iowa.
Vin, many thanks for the memories and the great play by play sound bites you have shared with us. You will be missed.