They Did Not Go Gentle


 MLB Network replayed the Sept. 19, 2006 game in which the Dodgers hit four homers in a row in the bottom of the ninth to tie the Padres. I remember that game very well. I was living in Sweden at the time and had and could watch and listen to the games on-line. But the time difference (nine hours) made it very weird. I used to wake up around 6am and catch the ends of the Dodgers’ games on my computer.

That morning in Sweden, I was drinking coffee and turned the game on in the eighth inning . Vin recaps this late-season battle between teams tied for first as being ‘a roller coaster ride from depression to euphoria, with all the stops in between.’ The Pads get four runs in the first inning and the Dodgers slowly claw back until it’s 6-5 Pads at the end of eight innings. 

In the top of the ninth, the Padres score three to make it 9-5. Things don’t not look good for our boys as the bottom half of the ninth begins and ‘fans’ are streaming out to the parking lot. 

Then Kent slugs a dinger to dead center. 9-6. OK, no big deal. The J.D. Drew pulls one out to right center. 9-7.

Vin slips in, ‘What was that line? Do not go gentle into that good night.’

From Dylan Thomas to Trevor Time. On Trevor’s first pitch Russell Martin smashes a shot over the left center field wall. Vin is quiet and lets the crowd noise tell the story. 9-8. The camera shows stunned people in the parking lot turning around and coming back toward the Stadium.

‘The Dodgers are still a buck short.’ says Vin. 

Marlon Anderson crushes Trevor’s next pitch out on a line. 

Cheers, screams, disbelief, and Vin, ‘Believe it or not, four consecutive home runs and the Dodgers have tied it up again!’ 

I’m going absolutely crazy in Sweden. Cannot believe what I just saw and heard. I was at the Stadium when the Boys hit three in a row once. but this is amazing. My kids and wife are awake and wondering what is wrong (or right) with Papa. 

Of course it can’t last and the Padres come back again to take a one-run lead in the top of the tenth. At this point it almost doesn’t matter who wins. I’m exhausted.

Then Nomar’s two-run blast wins it, and talk about emotional roller coasters…

Vin is quiet for a long time. ‘Unbelievable,’ he says. A long pause. ‘I forgot to tell you. The Dodgers are in first place.’

Summer of Vin

I first got fascinated with listening to Vin during the summer of 1977. I was attending UC Santa Barbara and was ‘between apartments’ for the summer, so my good friend Dave Gutierrez let me sleep on a cot on his balcony on Abrego Ave. in Isla Vista. 

I had heard some of Vin during the 60’s because my grandmother Dora used to listen to the games. She was a huge Dodgers fan. But I’d drifted away from listening until that summer of ’77.
I worked at a liquor store in Santa Barbara and when I’d get back to Dave’s place, he was usually cooking some Mexican food. He’d learned to cook from his grandmother in Boyle Heights. He’d also learned to love the Dodgers there. They could see Dodger Stadium from the front porch of his grandparents’ house. Chile verde was his specialty, and we’d always have plenty of Budweiser and yellow chiles en Escabeche.
On those summer evenings with the radio on as the verde simmered and the beer chilled, we’d hear that old song ‘It’s a beautiful day for a ball game, for a ball game today…’  and sing along. Then it was Hi everybody, and a very pleasant good evening to you, wherever you may be…” 
We’d wallow in the game and Vin’s words and stories. Often I would drift off to sleep on the balcony while listening. And the morning after, we’d always have Farmer John bacon for breakfast. 

The Greatest of All Time

Vin Scully was just chosen as the top sportscaster of all-time by the American Sportscasters Association. Their list of the Top 50 Sportscasters of All Time was recently released by that organization with very little fanfare. It’s a good argument starter with baseball announcers Mel Allen, Red Barber and Curt Gowdy joining Vin in the top 4 spots (with Howard Cosell as number 5). 

Vin was also featured in the L.A. Times today looking back at the TV broadcast of Don Larsen’s 1956 World Series perfect game. MLB Network recently showed the game and Vin saw a DVD copy. 
Vin critiques the work of his then 28 year-old self, as well as the visual presentation of that game on TV. He points out that he was ‘defensive’ announcer, afraid of making mistakes. Vin did the play-by-play of the final half of the game with Mel Allen taking the first half. 
“In this day and age,” Vin says in Diane Pucin’s article, “I would have started in the seventh inning. ‘Hey, call your friends, this guy is pitching a perfect game.’ That’s a major part of reporting the game now, getting other people to share in the experience. But in those days it was not done. It was a baseball superstition. You didn’t speak of a perfect game.

“I followed Mel’s lead. He started to count the outs, he handed the baton to me, I picked that up.”