Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully was born Nov. 29, 1927, making him 84 years old today. Scully recently re-upped for another year behind the microphone for the Dodgers; he no longer takes road trips outside the NL West, but that still gives him about 100 games' worth of broadcasts. He's worked for the team since 1950, so 2012 will be his 63rd year behind the microphone.
1950. Think about that. The first major league game Scully ever broadcast was a spring training affair between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Athletics:
Well, I think the very first one was an exhibition game and we were playing the Philadelphia Athletics and the manager that year was Connie Mack. Now the next year Jimmy Dykes became the official manager but my first broadcast was with the A's in Vero Beach with Mr. Mack right there in the black suit, and the celluloid collar, and the straw hat. So, I remember in that game I think Ferris Fain was the first baseman and it seems to me there was a triple play which Red Barber called and I remember sitting there thinking, "He made it sound so easy," and I was scared to death.
Connie Mack. The 50-year manager of the A's, who debuted as a player in 1886, just 10 years after the National League was formed. Those two men's lives in the game span almost the entire history of major league baseball.
One of the pitchers for Mack's 1950 A's was Joe Coleman. I don't know if Coleman pitched in that long-ago game that was Scully's first, but Vin has lived long enough to be a broadcaster for games in which Joe's grandson, Casey Coleman, was on the Chicago Cubs' roster.
Scully has been around so long that he received the Frick Award from Baseball's Hall of Fame -- an award designed to honor longevity and contributions to baseball broadcasting -- nearly 30 years ago in 1982. But it's not just Scully's longevity that we celebrate. Milo Hamilton and Jerry Coleman still broadcast games for the Astros and Padres, respectively, but Hamilton is viewed by many as a bitter man (he still resents being passed over for the top job with the Cubs for Harry Caray), and Coleman is known more for his malaprops ("They throw Winfield out at second, but he's safe.") than any significant call he made. The popular Bob Uecker still calls games for the Brewers, but he's a relative youngster; he turns 77 in January.
Scully stands alone. His lyrical description of the ninth inning of Sandy Koufax's 1965 perfect game reads like literature -- only it was all ad-libbed. His "Behind the bag... it gets through Buckner... here comes Knight and the Mets win it!" call in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series captured the amazement of all of us watching in just a few words.
And his call of Kirk Gibson's game-winning home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series is poetry:
"In a year that has been so improbable... the impossible has happened!"
But perhaps best of all, Scully, at 84, is still at the top of his game. He makes it worthwhile for me -- a Cubs fan -- to stay up late in the Midwest to watch the early innings of a Dodgers game just to hear his call.
Vin Scully is a national treasure. Here's hoping for many more years of Vin behind the Dodgers microphone.