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Honor Thy Father | Vin Scully / STEPFATHER: Allan Reeve

Dodgers broadcaster ached to know his real father, but that was soothed by his stepdad

Father's Day might be just another holiday for some, but John Wooden, Vin Scully, Anita DeFrantz and Arte Moreno all were strongly influenced by their dads. Here, they recall the men who helped make them what they became.

June 18, 2006|Steve Henson | Times Staff Writer

Dad was working late as usual, finishing up a 14-hour shift at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Vin Scully had finished his homework and was getting sleepy. Although something was on his mind, he couldn't wait up, so he wrote a note and put it on his dad's breakfast plate before going to bed.

It was 1943 and Vin was 15. His stepfather, Allan Reeve, left for work each morning at 4:30, riding buses and subways to the shipyard, often not returning home until after nightfall.

Reeve had an opportunity to take a civilian job on a ship headed to the combat zone in Europe. The money would be good, maybe even enough to get the family out of its $40-a-month, fifth-story walk-up apartment in Washington Heights.

Vin had only a hazy memory of his biological father dying of pneumonia 11 years earlier, but he knew the toll it had taken on his mother, Bridget. The thought of losing Reeve, a reserved, pipe-smoking Englishman who had brought stability and love to the household, terrified him.

So in the note, Vin asked his dad to turn down the job.

"I was afraid he might be put in harm's way," Vin said. "I didn't want him to risk the family to make a few more dollars."

*

Vin Scully's verbal artistry as the Dodgers' broadcaster has been described as silky. Coincidentally, his father, Vincent Aloysius Scully, was a silk salesman at an upscale clothing store.

Vin remembers his father only from a few grainy photos. After he died, Bridget took 4-year-old Vin to Ireland to spend time with her family.

"My mother told me later that when we came back, I had a brogue you could cut with a knife," he said.

Money was tight, and his mother rented out two spare bedrooms, usually to merchant sailors. One, Reeve, was a British seaman who worked for the Cunard Lines and bore a resemblance to actor Ralph Bellamy.

Reeve and Bridget eventually married and had a daughter, Margaret Anne. The family moved to Manhattan and Reeve found work as a doorman at an apartment building on Central Park West. He brought home hand-me-down clothes for Vin from residents he got to know.

"He'd spent his life at sea, now he was going to live on land and it was difficult for him," Scully said. "We were poor but not poverty-stricken. He was wonderful, in a quiet, shy way. And in watching him work, I developed tremendous admiration for him."

These days, of course, Vin, 78, is called Dad and Granddad. He had three children with his first wife, Joan, who died early in 1972, and another with his current wife, Sandra, who also brought two children to their marriage late in 1973.

"I hope they look upon me as Dad," he said of his stepchildren. "The thing that helped with our Brady Bunch, as we call them, is my wife. She is a tower of strength.

"I'd say to her, 'You deserve a medal.' "

So one day Vin went to a jeweler and had a medal engraved, wrapped it with a ribbon and presented it to Sandra as a token of his appreciation for her being there on so many summer days and nights when he was serving as voice of the Dodgers.

Today, Scully is in Oakland with the Dodgers, doing the job he has done so masterfully for 57 years, and doing it with a measure of regret.

"My ache now is all the things I missed because of my job," he said. "Mother's Day, Father's Day, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, you name it.

"It has been a series of misses. And it has made my heart ache. Baseball just devours you."

*

Allan Reeve read Vin's note at breakfast and did not take the job that would have sent him overseas.

His relationship with his stepson continued to grow over the years.

"To me, he was Dad," Vin said. "I never thought of him as a stepdad. I had an ache because I never knew my father, and it was washed away by my dad."

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