Los Angeles Times
Players and broadcasters react to death of Dodgers legend
SAN FRANCISCO — Joe Davis reported the news to viewers in the bottom of the fifth inning from the visiting television booth at Oracle Park where, fittingly, the Dodgers and Giants were playing.
“Well, it’s with heavy hearts that we pass along some really tough news,” Davis began. “At the age of 94, Vin Scully has passed away.” Silence.
“Tough. Tough,” Davis said shortly after finishing his SportsNet LA broadcast in the same ballpark Scully called his final game. “But I think it was my, like it’s been my responsibility to follow him and do the best I could to honor him by sitting in that chair and telling stories and calling Dodger baseball.”
Davis replaced Scully in 2017. Scully had been the team’s warm voice for 67 seasons. He spanned the franchise’s move from Brooklyn to Los Angeles. His stories were heard on transistor radios in the crowd at the Coliseum when the team moved west in 1958 and through flat screen televisions when he said goodbye in 2016. He was as popular as any player in any era, a steady summer presence across the region for generations.
Replacing the icon was impossible. Scully’s advice for Davis was the same advice Red Barber gave him in 1950: Be yourself.
“I just tried to do my best to pay tribute to the guy that I consider the
greatest ever to do it,” Davis said. “And I said on the air tonight and will say it forever: There will never be another one like him. The greatest there ever has been and the greatest there ever will be.
“So, we just tried to do our best to relay stories that we think kind of made Vin, Vin and just try to take what was a tough situation for everybody I know who felt like they knew Vin from listening to him for so long and make some people smile on a tough night.”
In the Dodgers dugout, word started to spread midgame about Scully’s passing.
“I knew he was ailing,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “But as far as the finality, I was still shocked.”
Justin Turner, the team’s longest-tenured position player, found out when he went back to the batting cages after the fifth inning.
“He was the Dodgers,” Turner said. “I think a lot of heavy hearts in here tonight hearing that news.”
A Lakewood native, Turner immediately thought back to his first encounter with Scully, when the third baseman was still playing for the New York Mets at the start of his career.
“We were in town playing the Dodgers and he came down into the visiting clubhouse to say hi,” Turner said. “He told me he was a fellow redhead, and us redheads have to stick together. I thought it was crazy that Vin Scully walked into the clubhouse to find me, and say hi to me.”
Catcher Austin Barnes remembered listening to Scully call games while growing up in Riverside.
“The way he called games, it made you feel at home, like he was in your living room,” Barnes said. “Super sad. Obviously he’ll be missed. He’s kind of like my childhood, growing up, listening to him.”
Clayton Kershaw, who was around for more of Scully’s career than any other current Dodger, had fond flashbacks of his own Tuesday night.
The pitcher was watching a television commemoration of Scully in the clubhouse postgame when highlights of his no-hitter in 2014 flashed across the screen. Scully’s dulcet voice narrated that game, just like it had a half-century earlier, when the broadcaster called Sandy Koufax’s perfect game.
“All the people he’s called, no-hitters, perfect games, World Series, all these things, for me to be a very tiny, tiny part of that is very cool,” Kershaw said. “His voice never changed. ‘It’s time for Dodger baseball,’ the ‘Good evenings,’ it will all resonate with me. It was a very special thing to be able to have him around, and we’ll miss him, for sure.”
News of Scully’s death resonated around the rest of the sport, as well.
In Anaheim, Angels manager and Fullerton native Phil Nevin recalled his interactions with Scully, from keeping score of games while listening to him as a kid, to the time he first heard Scully call his name on a broadcast when he reached the major leagues.
“It felt like, ‘Wow,’ ” Nevin said, “‘I’m in the big leagues.’ ”
During Scully’s final season calling games in 2016, Nevin was the Giants’ third base coach. During one game against the Dodgers that year, he went up to the press box to take a picture with the retiring broadcaster. “It was one of my favorite baseball moments,” Nevin said.
Perhaps the most memorable highlight from that year: Charlie Culberson’s walk-off home run in Scully’s final home game at Dodger Stadium, a win that clinched the NL West for the Dodgers and was punctuated with Scully singing “Wind Beneath My Wings” to a sellout crowd.
“We [were] all celebrating and we all just turn our attention to Vin and his wife, Sandra,” Culberson, who now plays for the Texas Rangers, told reporters after their game Tuesday. “It was a pretty cool moment … People will talk about Vin forever.”
Online, remembrances of Scully also flooded social media Tuesday.
Longtime Dodgers Spanish language broadcaster Jaime Jarrín wrote in Spanish that he “lost the architect of my professional life; a dear friend.”
Lakers great and Dodgers part-owner Magic Johnson said “he had a voice and a way of storytelling that made you think he was only talking to you.”
The rawest emotions were on the Dodgers television and radio airwaves.
Former Dodgers outfielder and longtime radio analyst Rick Monday’s voice cracked as he delivered the news during the radio broadcast.
“For those of us that were touched by him, listened to him and learned from him,” Monday said, “this is a deep loss.”
During SNLA’s postgame show, former Dodgers pitcher and current television analyst Orel Hershiser was holding back tears.
“It’s really hard,” he said, “because it’s a portion of your life that you don’t want to lose.”
As the Dodgers went on to beat the Giants 9-5 on Tuesday, Davis spent the last few innings weaving in stories about Scully.
He shared how Scully fell in love with the sport, his rise as the voice of the Dodgers, and his impact on other broadcasters. He recalled his first interaction with Scully in 2015, how he ignored two calls from him because he didn’t recognize the phone number. Then he listened to the voicemail. It was Scully introducing himself.
“Everybody feels like they knew him and so many people grew up listening to him and learned baseball from him,” Davis said. “So, I felt a responsibility to all those people to, however tough it may be, understand that it’s just as tough for them and to try and kind of be, I guess, the steady voice like Vin had been for so many people for so long.”
In the end, after the Dodgers secured the final out, they formed their handshake lines on the field with a sobering graphic on the videoboard above. It was a photo of Scully in the booth. 1927-2022.
‘His voice never changed . ... It was a very special thing to be able to have him around, and we’ll miss him, for sure.’
— Clayton Kershaw Dodgers pitcher on Vin Scully