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Vin Scully : In 36 Years as Voice of the Dodgers, He's Never Been at Loss for Words

April 08, 1985|RICK REILLY | Times Staff Writer

Such as the time he and his wife, Sandy, were taking a trip. Scully packed the luggage in the trunk of the car and off they went. All along the freeway, an inordinate number of citizens were waving and pointing, honking horns and flashing lights. Naturally, Scully thought they were fans, who really do honk and wave and flash lights at him, though even this seemed a bit much. But, as Scully says, "I thought I was just having an especially good day with my public." When Scully finally got out of the car, he realized he'd left a suitcase on the roof of the car and people were just trying to call it to his attention, without much luck. "Boy, did I feel stupid."

That humility runs deep. When Scully was inducted into the broadcaster's wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, the Dodgers saluted him with a Vin Scully Night at Dodger Stadium. When he was introduced, the faithful gave him a huge and lengthy standing ovation. When the roar finally subsided, Scully stepped to the microphone, looked up at the people and said, "It's only me."

Scully knows from whence he came. For all his dulcet tones he has his sorrows.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday April 9, 1985 Home Edition Sports Part 3 Page 9 Column 2 Sports Desk 2 inches; 61 words Type of Material: Correction
A photograph of golfer Denise Strebig was incorrectly identified as Lauri Peterson in Monday's editions of The Times, and a photo of a boxer identified as Olympian Virgil Hill was not Hill.
In the Monday Morning story on announcer Vin Scully, it was erroneously written that the George Washington Bridge is located in Brooklyn. The George Washington Bridge spans the Hudson River, connecting Manhattan and the Bronx with New Jersey.

Her name was Joan Crawford, not a movie star but with the mystique of one--rich in beauty, dark eyes, dark hair, a model's face.

Reared in Massachusetts, she was working as a model in New York in 1957 when an advertising buddy of Scully's set her up with Vinnie on a blind date. As things will happen, they were married the next year. That was 1958, a most eventful one for Scully, since the Dodgers moved west that year. The Scullys and the Dodgers began life anew in Los Angeles.

Joan and Vinnie had three kids--Michael, Kevin and Erin--and his love for those four began to make him rue life on the road with the Dodgers.

"I hate to see days and nights go by without seeing the family," he said in 1969. "Time is the most precious thing of all, and I hate to squander it."

But he had made it through another season, 1971, and was bracing himself for another when, at 3:30 a.m. on Jan. 26, 1972, he was awakened by the barking of a dog. When he turned to check on Joan, she was dead.

The coroner's report said that Joan Scully had taken an accidental overdose of medication prescribed to her to help her rest from a severe cold and bronchitis.

Scully immersed his sorrow in his work. As always, he did not miss an assignment with the Dodgers. He flew to Vero Beach in February and carried on. Scully always carries on.

Two years later, he remarried, and today the Scully family counts eight, more than enough. They are Vin and Sandy, his new wife, Sandy's two kids from a previous marriage (Todd, 20 and Kelly, 16), Scully's three from Joan, and one of their own, 10-year-old Catherine.

But it is in Erin, 16, his last daughter by Joan, that Vin is faced with a laughing, dancing, giggling reminder of his Joan. For Erin, dark and handsome, looks strikingly like her late mother.

"I see Joan in everything Erin does," Scully says. "I love that. For that, I will cherish her forever."

In the 13 years since Joan's death, Scully has rarely talked of it, even with Sandy. "I guess I ' m a pretty good actor," he says. "I can be down and make myself cheerful. Lasorda always says to me: 'You're always happy.' Well, I'm not always happy, but I try to act like I am.

"I just refuse to allow my feelings to show. . . . I'm the great coverup. Why? I don't know. It's not like I'm trying to spare everybody else the burden. It's just that I was taught not to show my emotions. . . .

"My mother was an unemotional person. She was not the type to put her arms around me. And my stepfather was very much the contented, quiet Englishman. That's why it's hard for me. I can't go all the way. I can't reveal all my feelings. I could never bare my soul.

"Maybe I've kept it in too much, but I can't look back. I don't need a catharsis. I don't need a cleansing. I've handled it in my own way. That's just me. I have to do it my way. I can't allow the sadness to lead me on."

On his way to Vero Beach in mid-March for the 36th time, Scully, heavy-hearted and looking into the teeth of another eight-month season, plunked down in his seat in the first-class cabin and looked, for once, almost unhappy.

"You get to thinking, 'Well, here I go for two more weeks on the road.' I figured it all out once and I realized that in my career, I've been away from home for something like three full years. Three years. That gets to you. That gets depressing."

When Scully gets depressed, he plunges himself into his work and so it was that he reached up to the overhead bin and pulled down his briefcase to do some.

When he opened it, he found a Snickers candy bar.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, here was Vin Scully, millionaire businessman, baseball's storyteller, distinguished journalist, Peabody Award Winner and Hall of Fame resident, sitting in the first-class cabin of an airplane with a Snickers bar.

He took it out. There was a note attached.

It read:

Dear Daddy, We'll Miss You, Love, Us. As Scully looked up, anybody could see in his eyes that, for at least this one moment, the show did not go on.


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