Saturday, September 24, 2016

The End of An Era

On my coffee table, there are Brooklyn Dodgers yearbooks dating back to the 1950s. They're full of pictures of guys like Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella and Duke Snider and Pee Wee Reese, and also guys like George "Shotgun" Shuba, whose memory largely rests with obsessives and nostalgics and collectors. 

And Vin Scully called their games.

I've had the package for a couple of years now. Roughly half of what I've used it for is watching Dodgers games - the home ones, the ones Vin Scully called. Nothing against the Dodgers' road crew, who are fine announcers, but they are fine announcers. Vin is Vin, the encyclopedia of all things baseball who'll drop an anecdote about an opposing player's Little League career in the middle of a tense at bat and make it feel perfectly seamless with the rest of the call of the game, or interrupt a sponsor's message to give a grandfatherly awww when the tv cameras pick up a small child in the stands. His rhythm, even now, after nearly seven decades in the booth, is flawless. He paints the action, informs the viewer, brings us into his confidence and then sends us home happy for what we've seen and heard without ever stepping on the action.

Tomorrow night, Scully - undoubtedly the greatest sportscaster the English language has ever known - will hang it up. He's going out on his own terms, bowing out after the Dodgers' last home game of the season. It's also the anniversary, he has said, of the day he fell in love with baseball. Circles close, even if they wind and spin like the seams on a Koufax curveball. 

I mentioned this to my father the other day. Dad's 78. Those Dodgers yearbooks were his, his and my mother's. He pondered what I told him, and said, "I remember his first game. He called it with Red Barber." And then, "That was a long time ago."


It was.

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