First, a little Facebook housekeeping for those of you connected to me on that portal. You may notice that last weekend was the very first (and likely only) time I changed my profile photo. There is a story behind why that picture of me never is removed, but no need to share it today. On this October 2, 2016, it's all about the guy in the picture with me.
Mr. Vin Scully.
Heck, if you work 67 years in the same job for the same organization, his photo should be the temporary profile snapshot for everybody on Facebook. Today, he bids us all a final "Good day, everybody." And he will be immeasurably missed a short ten seconds later.
I was lucky enough to meet Vin ("please don't call me Mr. Scully") on several occasions. Twice, when I won a charity auction to co-host "Dodger Talk." And, in the image above, at a Fordham University LA alumni gathering about two years ago. You see, he and I share the same college diploma. And, moreover, we both worked at the renowned WFUV-FM 90.7 college station. Many, many years apart, of course, but we were in the same Keating Hall location nonetheless. I am guessing Vin did some radio play-by-play of the Fordham baseball team while he was there. Hey, so did I. Vin probably did it exceptionally. I most certainly did not and I am sure there are still some pending complaints at the FCC.
Every time I did get to say "hi" to Vin, he was super gracious and welcoming. Of course, each time, I reminded him of our Fordham connection. The first instance where we met was before a game and I was doing the "Dodger Talk" thing and watching the game from the press box. Back then, the Dodgers had an elongated seventh inning stretch with both "God Bless America" and "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." Vin would use this break to stretch himself and visit the facilities. I did the same. As we passed each other at the mens' room door, Vin called out to me.
"Hi there again, Len from Fordham."
Two hours later, he had still remembered my name.
But that is Vin Scully and I am sure legions of baseball fans here grew up with the guy and his voice is synonymous with warm summer evenings and transistor radios under the stars.
I feel a little cheated myself. I really only got to enjoy Vin once I moved out to Los Angeles. Prior to that, he was simply somebody I knew about from afar. The only time I really heard or saw him was when he was on a talk show or doing a guest spot on "Mister Ed." A look at his IMDB listing tells me he was the narrator of some 1967 sitcom called "Occasional Wife." Had I known that when I was speaking with him, I'm sure I would have gotten extra star points for mentioning that.
Indeed, you got to hear Vin in New York when he was doing the NBC Game of the Week. And, of course, his play-by-play of the 1986 World Series is forever stored in the memory drawers of all Mets fans.
So, essentially, my Vin Scully exposure was not frequent prior to my LA move.
But, once I did and I got sucked in every day when it was "time for Dodger baseball," I was a devotee of the first order. His brilliance day-to-day was unheralded. His stories and the love for the game were miraculous. This is a man who did it "old school" but from the best school. When I would go to games early and dine in the Stadium Club, I would always peer into the press box to see Vin. Sitting in his seat two hours early and writing notes. And notes and notes and notes. These tidbits would be shared with you during that night's broadcast. He was speaking to millions but it all had the sensation that you were the only person that mattered to Vin. It was the most intimate relationship between broadcaster and baseball fan.
But isn't that how all of us got into the sport of baseball? Oh, sure, perhaps we got education from a father or a grandfather. But, for the most part, it's that voice from the radio or television that brought us the insight and the knowledge we needed to become true baseball fans. For the folks in Los Angeles and previously Brooklyn, that master class was taught by Vin. For me growing up in Mount Vernon, New York, it was the Mets holy trinity of Ralph Kiner, Bob Murphy and especially Lindsey Nelson. Later on, when my mother became a Mets fan in her later years, her professor was Tim McCarver.
We all had our teachers. And our passion for the game came from their words and inflections. What Vin Scully has done for fans over 67 years is really no different than what that announcer for your team in your town did. But, nobody likely did it better than Vin. Here's a guy who knew that sometimes the best way to report on action was to let you watch it with the roar of the crowd.
I got to say my goodbyes in person last weekend during his final home games, which turned out to be magical thanks to a walk-off homerun to clinch the division. His last call ever at Dodger Stadium could go down as one of his best of all time. Tears flowed as a recording playing his farewell in song..."The Wind Beneath My Wings," which he originally did for his wife 25 years ago.
I cried. I may again later today as I sit in front of my TV.
He signs off finally this afternoon from San Francisco. But he will be with us in our memory drawers for all of time.
Well played, MISTER Scully.
Dinner last night: Pasta with sausage, mushrooms, and capers at Modo Mio.