If you could have just one chance to have lunch with anybody alive, who would it be? There’s some things like to say to George W. Bush, but he won’t be in office long enough for me to waste my one opportunity. I’m so disappointed with politicians and most world leaders that I probably wouldn’t believe anything they would say.
But he’s insignificant when it comes to adding anything meaningful to the world. That’s a sad commentary considering he’s probably the most famous human alive.
O.J. Simpson? I doubt if he’d give me the answers I want. Heck I already know the answers, but I’d love to hear him say it.
There’s one person, however, who I feel like I’ve known for nearly 50 years — 48 to be exact and still counting. He’s been in every house or apartment I’ve lived in and in every car or truck I’ve owned. He’s mentioned in my favorite book (The Quartzsite Trip). I’ve seen him from a distance — I even took a picture of him when I was a kid, but you wouldn’t be able to recognize him without someone telling you that that’s him in the picture.
He taught me a lot. The most important thing I learned from him is how to be as absolutely fair and unbiased as I can be.
He taught me fairness. In a world of “us v. them,” he’s the exception. He’s an observer but not an endorser. He knows his profession better than anyone who ever lived, I believe. He’s had a gazillion chances to leave his job and move into the really big time and make even bigger bucks. I have no idea what he makes now, but I’m certain he could have quadrupled it a long time ago.
He’s the best example of loyalty I’ve ever seen — except for maybe some dogs I’ve had. Everyone knows that no human can be as loyal as a good dog.
When I think about it, he’s been there for me longer than anyone in my life, except for my mother and my sister. My father was only around for 10 years. My stepfather joined the family for 15 years. Mom passed away when I was 48. Don’t get me wrong, nobody can compare to Mom. We’re just talking statistics here — number of consecutive years of influence.
He spoke to me the other day when I went into Santoro’s Submarine Sandwich shop in
I waxed nostalgic for a moment and said to the young man preparing my meatball and cheese sub, “You know, I couldn’t name a single Dodger, but if Vin Scully is announcing the game, I’m captivated.”
“Yeah,” he said. “There’s nobody better.”
It was amazing because Vin Scully was at the microphone for 30 years before the young man was born.
You don’t have to be a baseball or Dodger fan to appreciate Vin Scully. He can describe what’s going on down on the field as quickly as it’s happening. What makes him different from all of the others is he names all of the players while the action takes place.
Other announcers might identify the position of the fielder involved in a play — even I could do that — or speak in the passive voice to buy time to remember or look up the name (“It’s caught by the shortstop, Henson, and thrown to the first baseman, Garcia”).
While the player for the other team is wiping the dust off of his uniform after sliding into second base, Vinny will tell you about the time the runner fell out of a tree when he was six years old. He’ll tell interesting stories between pitches and, even after an amazing homerun, he’ll complete the story.But it’s when there’s a dispute or a rhubarb that Vin Scully shows his stuff. In all of these years, I’ve never once heard him talk as if he’s on the side of the Dodgers. He’s always neutral. Always.
(The photo is from the www.dodgers.com.)
And he doesn’t talk bad about people. If a player screws up badly, Vinny won’t rub it in. In fact, he seems to have something positive to say about everyone — even the umpires.
He’s never at a loss for words. Back in the black-and-white days of the late 1950s or early ‘60s, I remember a time when Vinny was doing a telecast from a game in
And when the fans would get out of control and streak onto the field or throw things, Vinny would refuse to give them any exposure or play-by-play. Anyone who grew up listening to Vinny knows he wouldn’t approve.
For a few years, I’d take my transistor radio to the game so that I could listen to Vin Scully tell me what I was seeing. He’s that addictive. But after a while, I quit taking the radio because there are always enough people nearby with radios that you never missed a description.
He’s 78 years old and his mellow voice hasn’t seemed to have changed. I don’t believe there are any Dodger employees working there today who were there when the Dodgers came west from
If I could have lunch with Vin Scully, I’m not sure I’d even talk about baseball. I might not even ask any questions at all. I think I’d be happy just to be sitting with an old friend.
Thanks Vinny for being there for me and for teaching me how to be a better journalist and a better person. And thanks for not abandoning all of us. Thanks for not selling out.
OK, if you could have lunch with anybody, who would it be? I believe the "comments" feature is turned on.