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There's No Longer Any Doubt About Scully-Garagiola

July 10, 1987|Larry Stewart

When NBC paired Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola in 1983, there were some doubters.

How would Garagiola, who was asked to go from play-by-play man to commentator, take to being No. 2? And how would Scully, who had always worked Dodger games without a commentator, take to having one as chatty as Garagiola?

Well, now in its fifth year, the marriage is working.

Scully and Garagiola are considered by many to be the best baseball announcing team ever. And these two all-star broadcasters, who will announce Tuesday's All-Star Game, are also buddies.

About working with Garagiola, Scully says: "I've enjoyed every minute of the past five seasons."

Scully, at one time, was sensitive about speculation of trouble between him and Garagiola. To promote its coverage of the 1983 All-Star Game, NBC asked Scully and Garagiola to take part in a press conference in Los Angeles during a time when many columnists who write about television were in town.

Garagiola was asked how he liked being a commentator rather than a play-by-play man. He answered by saying all the right things--essentially that it was great.

Scully, in turn, was asked how he liked working with a commentator. And he, too, said all the right things--essentially that it was great.

At a Dodger game a couple of days later, Scully was asked if, indeed, he liked working with a commentator, and was it time for the Dodgers to break away from the one-announcer-at-a-time format and hire a commentator?

Scully explained that he was comfortable working with a commentator on the network because in that situation one was needed, but he added that there was no need for the Dodgers to change what he called a winning formula.

"When you talk to a guy in Dubuque, you have to supply more information than when you talk to someone who listens to the Dodgers every night," Scully said at the time.

The headline on this column a couple of days later said: "Scully Still Prefers Working Alone." There wasn't room to say: "Scully Still Prefers Working Alone on Dodger Broadcasts but Sees Need for a Commentator When Working for NBC."

Scully was livid. "That headline was a slap in the face to Joe," he said. "I know the writer doesn't write the headline, but your headline writer read your column exactly the way I did."

Several months later, after Scully and Garagiola received a favorable review in this column for their work in the 1983 playoffs, a letter from Scully arrived.

"I particularly appreciate the fact that you wrote what you did after we crossed swords earlier this year," Scully wrote. "You mentioned the preseason speculation about two giant egos in the same booth, a speculation for the most part made by a Boston writer whom I have never even met.

"It was this negative, almost spiteful attitude, that I found appalling, as if writers were wishing for the failure of a marriage before the vows were even taken. How very sad."

Scully is a little uncomfortable about his celebrity status. He has said that if it were up to him, he'd just as soon forgo doing interviews with reporters. But he realizes that promoting NBC telecasts is part of his job, so, he agreed to do a conference call and chat with several reporters Wednesday morning.

Scully made the commitment without ever dreaming that he'd be working until 3:30 a.m. the night before. Because of Tuesday night's rain delay in St. Louis, a doubleheader between the Dodgers and the Cardinals ended at 3:02 a.m. CDT. Then Scully had to do a postgame show before leaving the park.

"After a game, it takes me awhile to unwind," Scully said. "I can't go to sleep right away, even if it's almost 4 a.m. So, no, I didn't get much sleep last night."

Today, Scully is in Houston, where he'll announce tonight's game between the Astros and the New York Mets for NBC, which is offering a rare Friday night telecast. The pregame show begins at 5 p.m., and the game, with the Astros' Mike Scott facing the Mets' Dwight Gooden, will begin about 5:15.

It will be the Astros and Mets again Saturday at 10:45 a.m. on the "Game of the Week," with Scully and Garagiola also announcing the game.

Scully, who has been announcing baseball since 1950, says the job still excites him. "Before Tuesday night's game, I will look out over the crowd and, I swear to you, I'll get goose bumps," he said.

"I always do when I stop to think about the magnitude of a game like an All-Star Game. It's overwhelming to me. The day when the goose bumps aren't there and I'm saying to myself, 'Gee, I'd really rather be home,' then that's the day I pack it in."

Scully says there is one piece of advice that has helped him tremendously in his career. It came from his mentor, Red Barber.

"He said, 'There's one thing you can bring to the booth that no one else can, and that is yourself.'

"I have never tried to imitate another announcer," Scully said. "I have never borrowed or stolen a line or a cliche from another announcer. I have always tried to be myself."

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