Aug 29 2010

The Forecast: Summer in L.A. for at least one more year.

Category: Baseball,virtueamuzikman @ 8:00 am

It’s no secret the weather in Southern California is great.  It is the reason many people come here, to vacation or to live.  Other than a few days of rain each year the weather is very constant and almost always warm and sunny.  To be a weatherman in LA has to be one really boring job.  I like to joke with my wife each year about the weather on the day of the Rose Parade in Pasadena.  There they are, all those folks surviving freezing weather in other parts of the country, tuning in to the Tournament of Roses Parade -  invariably held on a beautiful warm winter’s day.  It has to make some of them just want to pack up and go west.  I tell my wife we could ease the crowding here in LA if we had just one Rose Parade held during a huge storm…but it never works out that way.

Well in case you haven’t figured it out, there is a very simple reason why LA has enjoyed such a perpetual summer.  It has nothing to do with sun spots, El Nino or trade winds.  You see this great weather began in the year 1958, the year the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles and brought with them their young red-headed announcer – a man by the name of Vincent Edward Scully.  (But we all know him as Vin or Vinny)  And every year since 1958 Vin Scully has been the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers.  But it has become so much more than that.  To baseball fans in LA, Vin Scully has become the voice of baseball and the voice of summer.  As long as I can remember Vinny has been as much a part of summer as trips to the beach and outdoor barbecues.  The same experience is shared by anyone under the age of 62, for that is how many years this sweet and gentle man has been at the microphone.  Virtually none of us has ever known another voice of the Dodgers.  (Virtually none of us can claim to be at the top of our game after 62 years either).

What an honor and a privilege it has been to share every summer with Vinnie, and believe me – when you hear his voice, it IS summer.  As a child I have vivid memories of going to see the Dodgers and being surrounded by fans with transistor radios and little gray earpieces, so they could listen to Vin while they watched the game.  In fact there were so many that you could still hear his voice even if you didn’t bring your own radio.  If you have never heard Vinnie call a baseball game I pity you.  What a master of ease and comfort, and what a genius at knowing when NOT to speak.  Some of the greatest moments in Dodger baseball are remembered as such because Vin just stopped talking and let the crowd say what needed to be said.  But when he does talk I swear it feels like we’re just like two good friends, sitting together in the bleachers.

The best news here in LA is that Vin Scully has agreed to be the voice of the Dodgers again next year.  That means for at least one more year it will be summer!  As a sports writer recently pointed out, there isn’t a player on the current Dodger roster that would rouse much regret if they were traded away this coming off-season.  But if we lose Vin, we lose summer.  And it has been such a long and glorious summer. I wish it would never end.

If you’d like to hear Vinnie and you never have, may I suggest you rent the Kevin Costner film, “For The Love Of The Game“.  Vinnie is the voice in the film doing the play-by-play for the big game.  If you’d like to get a glimpse of Vinnie out from behind the microphone keep an eye out for a replay of the television special called “Scully & Wooden For The Kids“  It is a live interview benefit done by LA Times sportswriter, T.J. Simers.  It consists of a marvelous chat with Vin and the legendary UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden.   Sadly the program has only aired twice.  But the very best way to experience Vin Scully is by listening to a Dodger broadcast.  And even in a year like this one, when the Dodgers are not doing well, it’s still bearable thanks to Vin. He is simply the very best at what he does – delivering summer every year, right on time!