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Doug Gamble- Contributor
Gamble is a former writer for President Ronald Reagan and
in Carmel. [go to Gamble index]
Scully – The Best
broadcaster is top of the list…
[Doug Gamble] 5/11/05
were a Mount Rushmore for baseball broadcasters, Vin Scully’s
face would be on it.
voice of the L. A. Dodgers is now in his 56th year of play-by-play
broadcasting, going back to the Brooklyn
years, a landmark unequalled in all of sports. Ernie Harwell,
the now retired Detroit Tigers announcer, held forth for 55 seasons.
short column can’t do justice to Scully’s brilliance
and his contribution to America’s great national pastime,
nor can I find words that would come close to matching his
vaunted eloquence. But to put it simply,
like Johnny Carson among late night talk show hosts or Frank Sinatra among
popular singers, he is the best at what he does.
is borne out by baseball historian, author and former speechwriter
for President George H.W. Bush, Curt
Smith, whose latest of 11 books, “Voices of Summer,” ranks
Scully atop a list of baseball’s 101 best baseball announcers
of all time. Smith uses a unique ranking system, with each announcer
assigned from one to 10 points in 10 categories including longevity,
continuity, language, popularity, persona, knowledge and others.
Only Scully scores a perfect 10 in each category.
Hank Greenwald once said, “Football and basketball carry the
announcer. The announcer carries baseball.” Scully continues to prove
how insightful those words are.
In his broadcasting craft he is like both a painter and a poet.
He faces the start of each game as an artist does a blank canvas.
Armed with a pallet of eloquence, insight and resonance, he applies
verbal brush strokes of color and texture throughout the game
until another masterpiece has been created.
surfaces often, as when he described a base runner on second
to make it home, with a nod to “Death
of a Salesman,” as a “tiny ship” seeking “safe
harbor” or referred to a cheap base hit as “a humble
thing, but thine own.” He once said, “He catches
the ball gingerly, like a baby chick falling from a tree.” And
as the afternoon receded toward the end of a game, what he saw
inside the stadium was, “twilight’s little footsteps
sometimes waxes philosophical, as in, “Andre
Dawson has a bruised knee and is listed as day to day. Aren’t
of the ninth inning of Sandy Koufax’s perfect
game against the Cubs in 1965 is considered a classic. In a profile
of Scully for an internet site, writer Gary Kaufman says a transcript
of Scully describing the final three outs reads like a short
story. “It had tension, rising and falling drama and great
turns of phrase. And it came off the top of his head at a moment
when, like the man whose feat he was describing, he knew he had
to be at the top of his game.”
also knows when his silence is golden. When Hank Aaron hit
715th career home run against the
Dodgers in 1974 and Atlanta fans went wild, Scully actually rose
and temporarily left the booth. “I didn’t want the
temptation to talk over noise,” he said.
refers to Scully as “baseball’s Laurence
Olivier,” says he proves that it isn’t necessary,
even in today’s culture, to dumb down a product to lure
an audience. “Scully lures through skill, work and an extraordinary
affinity for language,” he told me.
audio streaming on the web, this Southern California treasure
now invites baseball
fans throughout the country and
the world to “pull up a chair.” Millions know that
what baseball is to America, Scully is to baseball. And as he
sets a new record for longevity with each broadcast, it’s
great to know he apparently still hasn’t reached his personal
bottom of the ninth. tRO
California-based Doug Gamble contributed speech material to
Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and writes a twice-monthly
column for the Orange County Register and CaliforniaRepublic.org.
2004 Doug Gamble