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Vin Scully prompts memories of someone dear

Voice of the Dodgers reminds writer of his deceased dad, and that's part of the reason he loves to talk to the 85-year-old icon.

March 30, 2013|T.J. Simers
  • Vin Scully, shown at Dodger Stadium last July, says he won't miss the season opener as he did a year ago with a cold.
Vin Scully, shown at Dodger Stadium last July, says he won't miss the… (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles…)

I lost my dad decades ago.

But then this guy comes along who likes to sing as he walks, a jolly Irishman who laughs and cracks wise with a hint of the devil in him and I remember that guy.

We become friendly, but then who isn't a friend of his? He gives me his email address, and I don't know, do you believe in signs from beyond? Or remarkable coincidences?

Vin Scully uses an email address that makes you believe his nickname is "Red." My dad's name was John, but everyone called him "Red."

Now I know what you're thinking, the poor guy lost it when he fell in that Phoenix hotel room and he's still down for the count.

Maybe so, but I look forward to talking to Vin Scully as much as anyone I know.

If you had a chance to talk to your father again, or come close to faking it, how much would that mean to you?

So I emailed Red, told him I wanted to use him as I ease my way back to work.

He was there for me Friday.

I remember someone else you would hear before you would see, and what a great sound it was. You hear that Scully voice now and how do you not feel better?

On this day Scully's coughing, something my dad did every day of his life. Don't know what it's doing for Scully now, but I find his barking comforting.

Like I said, do you believe in signs from beyond?

He says he won't miss the season opener as he did a year ago with a cold, "But I've added to my fun this season. I have a torn rotator cuff. Maybe pulling a suitcase, I don't know.

"The good thing is I won't miss a turn because it's not my throwing arm," says the old southpaw.

And we're laughing. But we'll see what happens when he reads and thinks, "Page 2 as my son — nooooo!"

Before we meet, he has already greeted Marie, the elevator operator, and Robert and James, who stand watch at the entrance of the Vin Scully Press Box. Sometimes you wonder if he's auditioning to be a Walmart greeter.

"These are my friends," he says, and you would seriously have to wonder about someone considered the enemy.

"I look at this job as a challenge — if still I got it. I guess it's a fear of failure," he adds, admitting he hears criticism on occasion. "And it hurts."

He sounds so natural behind a microphone, as he tells everyone it's time for Dodger baseball, but he's all about the homework. Today he's talking Romeo and Juliet.

He doesn't have it quite memorized, but he gives it a try: "When he shall die, take him out in little stars, and he will make the face of heaven so fine. That all the world will be in love with night, and pay no worship to the garish sun."

He says there might be a moment when he needs to call on such a thing. He'll be ready.

I don't tell him my dad loved Shakespeare. No reason to creep him out.

We discuss "Homeland," Grouch Marx movies and this is the way it should always be. I tell him so.

"I don't take myself that seriously," he says. "I don't think if I'm not here people are really going to miss me. Let's face it, I grew up with the great Mel Allen. He's gone and the Yankees haven't missed a game."

I start to tell him he's a part of everyone's family, but I realize I mean it in a different way. I bet if we played golf he wouldn't let me win either.

"I would be frightened if I retired," he says when asked about the prospect. "I don't know what I would do."

So how does he get through an off-season?

"I have one little secret," says Scully, who will be bringing his wife to work Monday. "I know I'm going to work again.

"You know it hasn't all been beer and skittles," he adds. "We've had heartache and pain. I think I need these fans far more than they need me."

Scully is 85, so many nights spent away from home and the memory of Don Drysdale dying in a hotel room in Montreal is still painful as he recounts that day.

"When I'm in a hotel room I hear my own meter ticking," concludes Scully. "That's my life: tick, tick, ticking away in a hotel room.

"But it's also being Irish and from the moment you can understand anything you're told you're going to die. I know it all can be gone in seconds, so I'm living it.

"I had one of our beautiful grandchildren, K-K, crawl onto my lap, cuddle and put her little hands around my face. Inside I'm thinking I'm king of the world and she says, 'Grandpa?'

"Yes honey, I tell her. 'You're old,' " she says.

"You bet I am, I tell her."

"And she says, 'Grandpa, you're going to die.'

"Bless your heart,' I tell her, everyone, even the flowers, are going to die. But look how lucky I am."

Aren't we all.

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