Tuesday, September 27, 2016

My favorite Vin Scully moment

Writing about an old episode of Alcoa Theatre called "Flashing Spikes" a few years ago, I described long-long-longtime L.A. Dodgers broadcaster as America's unofficial most beloved broadcaster. Well, it's Vin's final season, and I think it's now official. As Scully goes out in his usual classy fashion (you just don't hear stories that begin with, "Remember the time Vin had to apologize for..." or "Did you hear him in the eighth? More like GIN Scully..."), players, fans, and fellow media members are sharing their favorite memories of the legendary announcer.

I'm pretty sure I fall into the middle category--I try not to brag about my "B" League pitching/third base experience back in the day--so let me join the chorus. My favorite Vin Scully moment is a simple one. It's not an elaborate turn of phrase, and it's notable as much for his restraint as anything, but it's a moment that gives me chills each time I see it.

Game 1 of the 1988 World Series is one of the all-time classic baseball moments. The Dodgers rallied in the ninth inning against the heavily favored Oakland A's, and injured star Kirk Gibson hobbled off the bench to deliver a pinch-hit home run off closer Dennis Eckersley. It was a storybook ending as long as you weren't rooting for the A's, and you still see the home run over and over again, accompanied by Scully's perfect narration, a combination of awe and respect for the moment.

I like to back it up before the actual home run, though, to when Gibson starts walking out of the dugout. I can't say why, exactly, I love this so much, but the way Scully says, "And look who's coming up," as he sees Gibson gets me every time. The crowd is buzzing, and everyone at home and in the booth knows what a big deal it is. Yet Scully doesn't belabor the point. With one simple phrase--"And look who's coming up"--he manages to set up the moment in a perfect manner, conveying a certain sense of, "Oh, wow," without yelling or otherwise ruining the drama. Then he and partner Joe Garagiola let the drama build for a minute while the Dodger fans go nuts.

If you haven't seen this, especially in context, it might seem ridiculous to identify "And look who's coming up," as the single best moment in a career that spanned over 60 years and countless events.  It's one of my all-time favorites, though, and it's something I like to watch every year or so. It's hard to describe just why I love it so much, but to me it blends my favorite sport, a great announcer, and history in a moment that never fails to rekindle my love of baseball.

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