Dodgers announcer Vin Scully waves to fans prior to the ceremonial first… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)
It took a long time before legendary Dodgers Hall of Fame announcer Vin Scully would agree to let the club put his likeness on a bobblehead doll. So it figured that once he went along with it, he’d turn the ceremony honoring him and his figurine into something different.
Instead of the traditional first-pitch ceremony before Thursday's game, Scully went to the mound, faked a huge windup and then walked over to the third-base line, where 15 of his 16 grandchildren were assembled, ages 5 to 22. He handed the ball to 15-year-old Mackenzie Luderer — who also sang the national anthem — and she relayed it to the child next to her.
And so on and so on, until the last child handed the ball to Grandpa Vin. He flipped it to Manager Don Mattingly while the crowd stood on its feet and roared.
“The reason I’m doing this, I’m not interested in throwing out the first ball. What I am interested in is every one of the 15 grandchildren can say for the rest of their lives, ‘You know I once had a part in a first-ball ceremony at Dodger Stadium,’ and to me that would be a great thing for them to have,” said Scully, who last week announced he will return next season for his 64th season behind the microphone.
“I guess it’s not passing the torch--we’ll be passing the ball. Which is better than passing the bull.”
Scully, who said he finally relented on the bobblehead issue in respect for this being Dodger Stadium’s 50th anniversary, said the doll was a hit with his relatives.
“They think it’s hysterical really,” he said, laughing. “There’s no honor in your home. But they will all have to to remember grandpa, if nothing else.”
They’re likely to remember him, as we all will, for a lot more than that. He said the figurine is “probably very favorable” in making him look better than he does, though he joked that he became concerned that the Great Dodger in the Sky wasn’t pleased when rumblings of thunder filled the sky before the game.
“I thought ‘Uh-oh, the boss isn’t happy about this,’” Scully said, “But he apparently has moved on and we were able to get it done.”
Scully, who will be 85 in November, said he remains as enthusiastic about his job as ever. Being around fans and friends at the ballpark, he said, was reason enough for him to decide to return.
“I kept thinking, ‘Are you ready to say goodbye to all those people?’ Who’s going to fill that gap, and it’s a big gap, believe me,” he said. “I look forward to that as much as the game. Being with people, good people. So I couldn’t say goodbye. I don’t know when I will but I couldn’t do it for this year.
“One of the nicest residuals of this job is to hear people say, 'You know when I hear your voice I think of Sunday afternoons with my dad, painting the garage or fishing or whatever. Or in the evening, barbecuing. It’s nice to be a bridge. I really enjoy that very much. As long as I can be of a little service, as long as I can visit with all the people I hold dearly, why would I walk away? So we’ll try to see if we can hang on for at least another year. “