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Doggett Dies of Natural Causes

Baseball: Broadcaster, 80, worked with Scully for over three decades in Dodger booth.

July 09, 1997|LARRY STEWART | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Jerry Doggett, who for 32 seasons worked alongside Vin Scully in the Dodger broadcast booth, died Monday of natural causes. He was 80.

Doggett retired from broadcasting after the 1987 season, ending the longest-running broadcast partnership ever in baseball.

Doggett and Scully remained the best of friends, talking almost weekly. Scully last saw Doggett on June 19, when they had lunch while the Dodgers were in San Francisco. Doggett had lived in Northern California since his retirement.

"He seemed fine," Scully said. "He was talking about moving to Las Vegas, where he and [wife] Jodi were building a house. Their daughter and her husband and their granddaughter and her husband had moved there, so they were going to go there too."

Scully said Doggett was at home in Morgan Hill, Calif., near San Jose, on Monday when around 11 a.m. he complained to Jodi that he was tired. He went to lie down and never got up. He had a routine doctor's appointment scheduled for that afternoon.

Doggett and his wife first moved from their longtime home in Fullerton to Sacramento to be close to their daughter and her husband, Sandy and Haven Greenawalt. The two families moved to Morgan Hill about three years ago to be close to Doggett's married granddaughter, Paige Ascione.

Doggett returned to Los Angeles in May of 1996 to be inducted into the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Assn. Hall of Fame. His presenter was Scully.

Doggett often said of Scully, "He's a terrific broadcaster, and an even better person."

Doggett, born in Moberly, Mo., grew up in Keokuk, Iowa, listening to St. Louis Cardinal and Chicago Cub broadcasts and dreaming of being a baseball announcer.

After graduating from Northwestern and spending three years in the Navy, Doggett got a job doing odds and ends at a Chicago radio station. He got his first full-time announcing job in 1938 at radio station KFRO in Longview, Texas.

After working in Longview for three years, Doggett went to WRR in Dallas, where he spent the next 15 years announcing Texas League games and calling the Game of the Week for the old Liberty Broadcasting System.

He got a tryout with the Brooklyn Dodgers in September of 1956. His first Dodger broadcast was a Dodger-Giant doubleheader on Labor Day at the Polo Grounds. A few weeks later, on Sept. 25, he called Sal Maglie's no-hitter against the Philadelphia Phillies, which clinched the National League pennant for the Dodgers.

Doggett was hired full time by the Dodgers in 1957.

In 1958, when the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, Doggett and Scully almost didn't go along. The Dodgers' new radio station, KMPC, wanted to hire its own announcers. But owner Walter O'Malley wouldn't allow it.

During his first 31 years with the Dodgers, he missed one game--to attend daughter Sandy's graduation from Fullerton High. During his final season in 1987, he missed seven games because of a sore throat.

Doggett was honored with a special achievement award by the Orange County Sports Hall of Fame in 1987 and was inducted into the Texas baseball Hall of Fame in 1990.

"Jerry deserves every nice thing that can be said about him," Scully said. "He was one of my closest friends and the best partner anyone could ever have.

"When we were on the road, we would spend all day and night together. We ate together, we played golf or walked around town together, we worked together and late at night we'd have a drink together. He was at peace with himself, and just being around him made me feel better.

"He never complained about not getting more of the limelight, he never showed any ego or any of that baloney. Jerry Doggett was just a terrific guy, and I will miss him forever."

Services will be held at the Johnson Funeral Home in Morgan Hill on Thursday at 11 a.m.

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