A JOY TO LIS­TEN TO

Chat­ting with leg­endary an­nouncer Vin Scully, 92, is a priv­i­lege

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - BOB NIGHTENGAL­E Twit­ter: @BNight­en­gale

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 — ev­ery­thing from his plaques and awards to World Series rings to an au­to­graphed book from Theodore Roo­sevelt to 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 great­grand­chil­dren. “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 holes-in-one on his ca­reer score­card — but now he won’t play again.

“When I saw those golf clubs go­ing into the truck, I felt a twinge of sad­ness,” he said. “It’s like a door closing a ma­jor part of my life.”

Scully re­tired 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 high­lights of an hour­long con­ver­sa­tion that felt more like five sec­onds. On strug­gles in Amer­ica:

“I be­lieve with all of my heart and soul that 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.” On watch­ing Jackie Robin­son suf­fer:

“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.” On 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.” On his ac­ci­dent in April:

“It might have been a blood­pres­sure 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 a 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.” On daily life in 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.”

MARK J. TER­RILL/AP

Leg­endary Dodgers broad­caster Vin Scully has culled items from his per­sonal col­lec­tion of mem­o­ra­bilia and is putting them up for auc­tion on Sept. 23.

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