You have probably already heard that long-time Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully has announced that he’s returing to the booth for a 66th year with the team. As one of the greatest sports announcers of any era, Scully has been around to call some of the greatest baseball games in the history of the sport. And one pretty awesome football game as well.
From Don Larsen’s perfect game to Hank Aaron’s 715th homer, Scully has been a verbal representation of what the game of baseball is about. His catchphrases and understanding of the drama involved in the game are two of the things that allow Scully to stand apart from the rest.
We figured it would be fun to look at some of his greatest calls of all-time with videos and analysis of the moments.
1. Sandy Koufax Perfect Game (1965)
But tonight, September the ninth, nineteen hundred and sixty five.
That sentence represents just how well Scully understood history when it was being presented in front of him. It was against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium just a few years after they moved from Brooklyn. It was only the Dodgers fourth season at Dodger stadium and the broadcast came via the radio.
This one event proved to all baseball fans of that era, that despite games being televised on a semi-regular basis, they could still enjoy a radio broadcast. Scully’s ability to explain and document the drama unfolding that night in Southern California was nothing less than amazing. Once Koufax got Harvey Kuenn to strikeout, Dodger Stadium went nuts. And Scully took us along for the ride. “It is 9:46 PM in the City of Angels,” Scully explained shortly after the final out. It was only the sixth perfect game of the modern era and Koufax’s fourth no-hitter, which was a record at the time.
2. Hank Aaron’s 715th Home Run (1974)
Scully, calling the game for the road-tripping Los Angeles Dodgers, let this moment in history play out just how it should have been. “And it is gone,” which was then followed by silence from the broadcast booth. After said silence lasted well over a minute, Scully returned to the microphone and uttered these words…
What a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia. What a marvelous moment for the country and the world. A black man is getting a standing ovation in the deep south for breaking the record of an all-time baseball idol.
Imagine what it must have felt like to listen to this broadcast live. As it is, I still have chills 40 years after the fact. And Scully brought it all together as only he can do. Absolutely amazing.
3. Kirk Gibson World Series Home Run (1988)
The situation was intense. The dominating Dennis Eckersley taking to the mound with the Oakland Athletics up 4-3 against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series at Dodger Stadium. A hobbled Kirk Gibson stepped to the plate with a man on second, two outs and a three-two count. This is stuff that makes up the grand history of baseball. And Scully was on hand to call the moment as it happened.
High fly ball to right field…she is gone.
Those eight words will forever be in my memory as an A’s fan who was just six years old at the time. In reality, it was one of my first memories of baseball. For many others, mostly Dodgers fans, Scully’s call of Gibson’s homer in Game 1 will be an everlasting memory in their lives. As Gibson hobbled around the bases, Scully remained quiet, allowing the magnitude of the situation to play out. When Scully took to the microphone again, he uttered these words…
In a season that has been improbable, the impossible has happened.
Indeed. The Dodgers went on to take the series in five. It’s the last championship the franchise has won.
4. Bill Buckner’s World Series Error (1986)
Bill Buckner’s error in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series is considered one of the most infamous mistakes in the history of the game. With the game tied in the bottom of the 10th, Mookie Wilson came to the plate and fouled off several pitches. Once he did make contact, Buckner let the ball roll between his legs and down the right field line, enabling Ray Knight to score the game-winning run. New York went on to win Game 7 and take the World Series the next night.
Scully’s response to the error is considered one of the most famous play-by-play calls in baseball history. Not because he said anything special, but because he let the drama play out on our television sets.
5. Dwight Clark’s Catch in NFC Championship Game (1982)
Having a hard time believing Scully was on the call for this game? Me too. It’s the only non-baseball call in this article, but it’s also one of the most famous in the history of the National Football League. The upstart San Francisco 49ers, looking to start a dynasty, taking on Tom Landry’s Dallas Cowboys. The ending is already well known.
Montana…looking, looking. Throwing in the end zone, caught it. Dwight Clark.
This play began a dynasty that included five Super Bowl championships in a 15-year span for the 49ers. It was also the end of the Landry-led dynasty of the 1970’s for the Cowboys. And Scully was there to take it all in.
6. Don Larsen’s Perfect Game (1956)
The greatest game ever pitched in baseball history…by Don Larsen. A no-hitter, a perfect game.
Scully’s television call of Don Larsen’s perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series between the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers isn’t considered the most famous call of this memorable moment. That distinction goes to Bob Wolff and Bob Neal, who were broadcasting on the radio.
It’s still absolutely amazing that Scully was on the call for NBC television and was a major player in yet another historic moment in the history of sports in the United States. It was also the last New York City matchup in the World Series between these two teams, as the Dodgers moved out west just two years later.
7. Yasiel Puig’s First Grand Slam (2013)
This makes No. 7 on the list simply because, along with the last blurb, it defines just how extensive of a career Scully has had. When Scully started broadcasting for the Dodgers in 1950, this country was in a much different place than it is right now. The era of Era of McCarthyism had just started, President Truman ordered the development of the hydrogen bomb and Cuba was less than a half of century removed from being a territory of the United States.
63 years after Scully began his Dodgers’ broadcasting career, he was on hand (as was I) to watch a Cuban, Yasiel Puig, hit his first career grand slam in just his fourth game in the Majors.
And a high fly ball to right field. I don’t believe it….a grand slam.
After a long pause, Scully continued…
I have learned over the years that there comes a rare and precious moment when there is absolutely nothing better than silence. Nothing better than to be absolutely speechless.
Yes, Mr. Scully you know how to pick your times to shut up. This most definitely was one of them. If nothing else, this call represented Scully at his best and showed us exactly what he has meant to the game of baseball over the years.
8. Rick Monday Takes Flag from Protesters (1976)
And wait a minute, there is an animal loose. Alright…I am not sure what he’s doing out there. It looks like he’s going to burn a flag. And Rick Monday runs and takes it away from him. I think the guy was going to set fire to the American flag. Can you imagine that?
This specific moment came at a time in America when protests were part of the societal norm. But the burning an American flag on the outfield grass of a baseball stadium just spits on everything we stand for as a nation. Scully’s response pretty much sums up how most of us feel about this incident nearly 40 years after the fact. And Monday’s ability to beat swipe the flag from the protesters was an equally amazing feat.
Interestingly enough, Dodgers great Tommy Lasorda was their third-base coach at the time. He was in the midst of running out there to grab the flag before Monday (then of the Chicago Cubs) beat him to it. If you pay close attention to the video embedded above, LaSorda was giving the protesters a little bit of that “Italian” tongue that we all have learned to love. And Scully was there to give the play-by-play.