How Vin Scully brought his signature eloquence to Chicago baseball moments

Vin Scully’s voice will forever be linked to the Dodger Nation.

But the legendary broadcaster, who died Tuesday at age 94, also presided over significant moments in baseball history involving both Chicago teams.

Scully’s career with the Dodgers dates back to his days in Brooklyn, and among the surviving broadcasts from the 1950s is a game against the Cubs on June 4, 1957, the Dodgers’ final year at Ebbets Field.

Starter Sandy Koufax, 21, had already given the Cubs a run for their money in a previous start, striking out 13 in a 3-2 win at Wrigley Field.

This time in Brooklyn he would be less sharp, stoking 12 runs in a 7-5 win but giving up a 3-run homer to Ernie Banks and a 2-run shot to Bob Speake.

The show is, in many ways, a charming period piece – you hear the singing of the national anthem, the shouts of the ice cream vendor in the stands, and the advertisements for Schaefer beer between the innings.

But what’s timeless is the distinctive voice that has called Dodger baseball for more than six decades, along with the humor, grace, eloquence and baseball knowledge.


        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

After an introduction from announcer Jerry Doggett, Scully humorously enters the proceedings, saying, “And despite the fact that I just kicked a cup of coffee in my lap in a suit that just came out of the cleaners, it’s great to be home.”

Scully brings to life something as insignificant as catcher Roy Campanella chasing a foul ball to “the lip of the dugout.” Scully says a “young GI with his daughter got this foul ball and proudly presented it to him”.

Between pitches, he also praises the Cubs’ starting rotation, observing, “Whenever you go to Chicago, think about it, especially in the spring or fall when you don’t get that glorious sunshine. too long you run into (Dick) Drott, (Moe) Drabowsky or (Don) Kaiser, you could have a pretty sad afternoon.”

After a third strike called to a Cubs batter by umpire Tom Gorman, Scully tells us, “It was a very troubled and bitter Dale Long who left home plate. He took off his helmet and pulled it about 25 feet along the box seats. The bat boy had to run along the line to get it.”

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax holds four baseballs in Los Angeles, California. on September 10, 1965. It was the next day that he pitched a perfect game for a 1-0 win over the Chicago Cubs, making him the first major league player to pitch four games without a hit.
– Associated press


Koufax’s Perfect Game

The Cubs were the opponent when Koufax pitched a perfect game on Sept. 9, 1965. And Scully’s call captured the drama perfectly.

After ninth leadoff Chris Krug swung on the second strike, Scully said, “You can almost feel the pressure now. Koufax lifted his cap, ran his fingers through his dark hair, then lowered the cap , waving at the bill.”

He says, “Krug must be feeling it too, as he steps back, sighs, takes his helmet off, puts it back on, and walks back up to the plate.”

When the count reaches 1-2, Scully adds a special twist to the drama by announcing that it is 9:41 p.m. It will continue to remind us of the time throughout the round.

He also speaks on behalf of nervous Dodger Stadium fans, saying, “There are 29,000 people in the stadium and a million butterflies.”

As the second ball is called for Krug and the crowd protests, he says, “A lot of people in the stadium are now starting to see the pitches with their hearts.”

Then, after Koufax cements the feat by knocking out Krug, Joe Amalfitano and Harvey Kuenn, Scully places a verbal monument to the deed – “On the scoreboard in right field, it’s 9:46 p.m. in the city of angels, Los Angeles, Calif., and a crowd of 29,139 just seated to see the only pitcher in baseball history to pitch four games without a hit or a run.”


In this file photo taken July 6, 1983, Fred Lynn of the American League's California Angels lands a grand slam in the third inning of the All-Star Game at Chicago's Comiskey Park.

In this file photo taken July 6, 1983, Fred Lynn of the American League’s California Angels lands a grand slam in the third inning of the All-Star Game at Chicago’s Comiskey Park.
– Associated press


Comiskey Park

Scully also has a connection to South Side baseball history.

You may recall that during rainy delays at Cubs games, WGN often aired the 1959 World Series film, directed by former White Sox manager Lew Fonseca and narrated by Scully.

As the film begins, as crowds line a ramp at Comiskey Park, Scully sets the scene: “It’s World Series time, but what a change of scenery for baseball’s greatest drama. Comiskey Park in Chicago, which hasn’t had a World Series Series in 40 years And then Los Angeles, which has never had a Series It’s a big day for White Sox fans, whose wonderful loyalty has become a tradition of the game. They set a new club attendance record this year.

Calling the game for NBC television, Scully would return to Comiskey Park in 1983 to call the 50th All-Star Game, capped by Fred Lynn’s grand slam against Atlee Hammaker.

During the pregame, Scully told his broadcast partner Joe Garagiola, “You know, Joe, a wise philosopher once wrote that a man should have very old memories and very young hopes. Let’s talk about memories I was a kid growing up in the stands at the Polo Grounds in New York, and I cried when Carl Hubbell lost a football game.”


Wrigley Field is lit up for the first night game at Wrigley Field in August 1988.

Wrigley Field is lit up for the first night game at Wrigley Field in August 1988.
– Daily Herald file photo


Night in Wrigley

Scully would be on hand for another historic game on August 9, 1988, when he and the NBC crew televised the first official night game at Wrigley Field.

Once again, Scully provided a memorable call for a historic occasion. In the final inning, Cubs reliever Goose Gossage caused a stick pop foul from Mets Lee Mazzilli that sailed to the seats. Third baseman Vance Law fell to his knees on the tarp roll, in Scully’s words “doing a Toulouse-Lautrec imitation”, and reached out to catch the ball.

Scully was the announcer calling the last major league game on NBC in 1989, “a sad time for us, as we sever our relationship with baseball, for a while at least”. Once again the Cubs were involved, losing the final game of the NLCS to the Giants.

This year, baseball returned to NBC for one game, before moving to the company’s streaming service, Peacock. A Chicago team was playing, as the White Sox met the Red Sox. And even though he was retired, it only made sense for Vin to narrate a promo hosting the reunion.

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