Fox Sports MLB Writer
Editor’s Note: Legendary Dodgers broadcaster Ving Sculley died Tuesday at the age of 94. Sculley retired in 2016 after 67 years as a team endorser in Brooklyn and Los Angeles. On July 19, Fox Sports published this story about Sculley’s unparalleled legacy.
LOS ANGELES — If you’re going to Dodger Stadium, you’ll turn to Vince Curry Avenue and enter the gate. On your way to your seat, you’ll likely pass the Vin Scully press booth, where you’ll look up to the left field reserve and see Scully’s name and microphone among the name and jersey number in the Dodgers’ ring of honor.
While Scully’s soothing voice no longer reaches the ears of thousands of Dodgers fans over transistor radios wishing them a good night, six years after his final home game at Dodger Stadium — Charlie Calbertson’s day, he still feels his presence won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
On September 25, 2016, Calberson cemented himself in a Dodgers lore, hitting the division with a home run against the Rockies, allowing Scully to leave in style.
It still gave Calbertson a shudder.
“That’s what it’s supposed to be like,” he said. “That’s how it should end.”
During Scully’s final home broadcast, Dodgers players tipped their helmets toward the studio as they walked to the plate. In the 10th inning, Calberson hit the winning shot into left field, went around the bases, and threw his helmet into the air with both hands, disappearing into a sea of teammates.
“Would you believe in home runs?” Scully said in the air. “The Dodgers have won the division title and will celebrate as scheduled. …What a wonderful moment to have it – you’ll believe, his first home run of the year!”
Calberson’s mind flashed as Boone Logan’s fastball left the bat at 104 mph. His home run was his first at the major league level in two years, and it was against his old team. He noticed his teammates running out of the bullpen and a group of people waiting for him at home.
Then it hit him.
“It’s like, ‘Oh, wow, this is Wen’s last phone call at home— once‘ said Calberson.
The team celebrated, then stayed on the field, turning their attention to Scully. He addressed 51,962 fans, who mostly held their phones to the press booth, every word hanging on when Scully humbly said he needed them more than they needed him.
Pitcher Tyler Anderson, now the Dodgers representative for the All-Star Game, started the Rockies’ opponent that day. Even he clearly remembers that weekend: “Every bit. Everything.”
He recalled Sunday’s departure and previous nights, including Kevin Costner’s tribute to Scully on the field at Dodger Stadium. Costner thanked the Hall of Fame broadcaster for 67 years “for finding a way to get all of us into the hitter’s box and to get all of us on base.”
“In the end, he said, ‘We can only hope that when Sunday comes, we’ll get a little extra free baseball,'” Anderson recalled. “Of course, we played that game, it was a close game, we got into the extras, and Charlie Culberson, the former Rocky, hit a home run on us.”
Calberson hit just 80 regular-season hits in his career with the Dodgers, bouncing between Los Angeles and triple-A Oklahoma City. His only two home runs came on that memorable day and the 2017 World Series. These days, he quipped that he timed those home runs well.
He also got messages from Dodgers fans who told him he missed a home run or where they were in the stadium when he hit it. It was the most important moment of his 10-year career, but Calberson knew the memory also belonged to the thousands of Dodgers fans who had listened to Sculley for more than six years.
“To be with him, with his legacy and career, is incredible,” he said.
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Peter O’Malley first met Scully in 1956, six years after Scully began his broadcasting career with the Dodgers at age 22. The Dodgers are on a friendly tour in Japan. O’Malley’s father, Walter, who was the owner of the Dodgers at the time, asked Sculley if he could let Peter sleep with him.
More than 60 years later, Peter counts Wen as his longest-standing best friend.
“Anyway, I would sum up the word ‘real’ for him,” O’Malley said. “To friends, family, fans, people he never met, people on the other end of the television set, his credibility came from honesty and sincerity, and his extraordinary ability to fit into radio and TV stories, characters and descriptions he remembered. Today, his memories are amazing.
Scully will recount the time he encouraged everyone in the gym to sing Happy Birthday to the judges. He recounts his story of playing on skates with Jackie Robinson in the Catskill Mountains, and young Dodgers outfielder Gene Hermansky after receiving a threatening letter to Robinson in Cincinnati How to come up with the idea of having the entire team wear No. 42.
He would also tell the story of a little red-haired boy who passed by a laundry on October 2, 1936, to see the New York Yankees beat the New York Giants 18-4 in the World Series. The boy felt sorry for the Giants and became a fan of them—until 14 years later he was hired by the Dodgers as a broadcaster.
Scully will be the link between Brooklyn and Los Angeles, from Ebbets Field to Dodger Stadium, from Robinson to Sandy Koufax and Clayton Kershaw. Scully is fresh in every Dodgers fan’s memory.
For Dodgers historian Mark Rangel, that moment was in 2016. Langier, who was supposed to be pictured with the Hall of Fame broadcaster, thought he deserved some kind of prop to break the tension. Knowing the frenzy of childhood, he thinks the 1936 New York Giants replica hat makes sense.
“He looked at it and said, ‘Why is it blue?’ I said, ‘Well, they wore blue in ’36 and ’37,” Langier said. “I didn’t realize as a kid that if he was just reading the paper, he didn’t know that. So, he turned to his wife and said, ‘Sandy, let’s put this in a safe place.'”
During Scully’s last broadcast, Langill received a photo of the hat next to Scully’s scorebook.
“In the fourth inning, he took a break, he told stories, he raised his hat,” Langier said. “He had Giants president Larry Bell, and he said, ‘I bet Larry Bell doesn’t know, but Mark Rangel does.’ I think you must be kidding me that something like this could happen?”
As the face of the Dodgers, Scully doesn’t need to exaggerate what he’s looking at. He made every moment come alive and breathing – from Coufax’s perfect game to Hank Allen’s 715th home run to Kirk Gibson’s World Series exit that led to his signature Sex Cries: “In such an incredible year, the impossible happened!”
For O’Malley, it was the call that stood out, and he won’t forget the consequences.
“His wife, Sandy, was with us, and I sat with my wife and rumbled — the stadium exploded,” O’Malley recalled. “The game was over and we were waiting for the audience. We were not in a hurry. We were all excited. About 10 or 15 minutes later he walked into our box from his booth and I could see him walking through” The door now carries that Smile. His face, I’ve never seen him in my life more excited than he was after that moment. “
O’Malley, who would later become the owner of the Dodgers, also recalls walking around the gym and Dodger Stadium listening to thousands of transistor radios tuned to Scully’s voice and hearing exactly what was going on. Fans watched the game in person, but still wanted Scully to tell what they saw. They feel like they are listening to their friends. In a rare form, Scully played solo into the microphone, where it played a major role.
“You feel like you know him, even though you may not have met him,” Langier said. “You always feel like he’s being honest with you and he’s being honest about what’s going on.”
In 1976, Sculley was voted “the most memorable person” in Dodgers history.
“His credibility and love for him, he’s in a category of his own,” O’Malley said.
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Carl Berson is a collector. Among his favorite items, he owns a signed Hank Aaron jersey and some baseball cards signed by Kershaw. He also owns baseball at his daughter’s first field in Atlanta. After his memorable home run away, he thought he would add to his collection.
With Scully’s last season wrapping up in San Francisco, Culberson came to the booth and got Scully’s autographed bat.
“We had a chance to catch a few minutes, which was very special,” Calberson said.
This is also special for Scully. A full 80 years from the day he fell in love with baseball after seeing the Giants score in the laundry, he unexpectedly ended his Hall of Fame career in a game between the Dodgers and the Giants. In his final call, he wished the fans a good afternoon.
Six years later, on another happy afternoon, it’s time for an All-Star baseball game at Dodger Stadium. The Legendary Voice’s reminders are everywhere – from signs to memorabilia to the people he touches every day.
“Vince Curry is the greatest man of all time,” Cufax said when he unveiled his statue at Dodger Stadium this year. “No discussion. It was him.”
Rowan Kavner covers the Dodgers and NL West for FOX Sports. A proud LSU alumnus, he considers his time as a sports writer and editor at The Daily Reveille to prepare him for a career in the NFL, NBA and MLB. Before joining FOX, he served as editor of digital and print publications for the Dodgers. When not at the stadium or watching sports, Rowan enjoys playing with his dog, hiking, running, golfing and reminiscing about the Mavericks’ 2011 championship game. You can find him on Twitter @Rowan Kavner.
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