AS A BOY, Vincent Edward Scully often lay on the floor in the front room of his family’s Washington Heights fifth-floor walk-up, put his head on a pillow tucked under a tabletop radio and listened to Saturday morning football games. He loved the spark of the announcer’s voice coming through the speaker from some far-off stadium and imagined himself in the crowd, surrounded by its happy roar. The sound, he said years later, “just poured over me.”
Scully broadcast Dodgers games, first in Brooklyn and then in Los Angeles, starting in the spring of 1950. It is the longest association between a single franchise and an announcer in American professional sports history. He began with the team as a 22-year-old graduate of Fordham University, at the invitation of the legendary Red Barber who saw in Scully an “appealing young green pea” whose earnest Irish lilt would connect with listeners.
Scully was behind the microphone on Oct. 4, 1955, when the bridesmaid “bums” of Brooklyn won their first and only World Series title, defeating the New York Yankees in Game 7 behind Johnny Podres. In a career full of memorable moments, the chance to tell the borough’s downtrodden faithful, “Ladies and gentlemen, the Brooklyn Dodgers are the champions of the world,” was his most cherished baseball memory.
When the team moved west in 1958, fans in the Los Angeles Coliseum, many in seats far from the action, took to listening to Scully’s calls on handheld transistor radios, his voice carrying through the soft Mediterranean air of game nights. L.A. was a football town then, but as Hall of Fame right fielder Duke Snider later remembered, Scully “educated” Angelenos on the game and made them care about the Dodgers, made them fans. On the May night in 1959 when the Dodgers honored MVP catcher Roy Campanella, who had been paralyzed in a car accident four months earlier, Scully, describing the crowd of more than 93,000 holding up lighters and matches in tribute, spoke for the city: “Let there be a prayer for every light, and wherever you are, maybe you in silent tribute to Roy Campanella can also say a prayer.”