His voice has been the soundtrack of baseball for over half a century. Universally beloved and admired as arguably the greatest announcer in the history of the sport, Vin Scully, the Hall of Fame voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers, told reporters on Saturday that the 2016 season will likely be his last. This came one day after revealing that he intends to return to the broadcast booth for an unprecedented 67th season.
“I would say realistically — and I don’t want any headlines — but I would say next year would be the last one,” Scully said. “How much longer can you go fooling people? I would be saying, `Dear God, if you give me next year, I’ll hang it up.’ ” (LA Times).
In an era filled with significant audience fragmentation and an inordinate amount of viewing options, Scully continues to remain the most influential voice in the game. Capable of bringing people together through shared interest, facts, musings, and impeccable play by play in a career spanning both Connie Mack and Addison Russell.
A disciple of fellow Hall of Fame announcer Red Barber, Scully began his career with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1950 and proceeded to call twenty no-hitters and currently holds the record for the most World Series called with 28. Scully took to the national scene from 1983 through 1989 as the lead voice for NBC Sports with Joe Garagiola on the Saturday Game of the Week, the All-Star Game, and the postseason. Scully would be behind the mic for iconic moments such as Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, infamously known as the “Bill Buckner Game” and Kirk Gibson‘s walk off home run two years later. After the 1997 season with CBS radio, Scully surrendered his national role, but continued to call the Dodgers and introduced a new legion of fans to the nuances of baseball.
Since 2005, Scully has cut back on his road schedule and only travels outside of California if the Dodgers qualify for the postseason. This season Scully compressed his schedule further with AT&T Park in San Francisco becoming the only ballpark where he calls road games. At the ripe age of 88, Scully remains as lucid and engaging as he did a generation earlier, setting the standard for not only baseball, but the entire industry as a whole. Even more impressive is the fact that Scully remains the only broadcaster in the majors to work without a partner, continuing to employ Barber’s mantra of “One team. One voice”.
By all indication, the 2016 season could be the swan song for a man who remains as timeless as the nine innings and the 27 outs of the game he calls passionately with the utmost deference. A man of intense modesty and humility, Scully will surrender the stage on his own terms with a legion of fans planning his farewell celebration and slowly realizing the void he will leave. As Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez famously learned in the 1993 film “The Sandlot”, “Heroes are born, but legends never die”. The same applies to Scully, whose voice, character, and appeal will resonate long after he leaves the public eye and embarks on the next chapter in his life.