If you know me, whether in real or in virtual life, you know also of my love of baseball, particularly that scrappy band of a team — Dem Bums, the Trolley Dodgers that once hailed from Brooklyn. I had came to love them out of sheer rebelliousness, you see — he had tried in vain to raise me a true blue California Angels fan and at nine years old or so, it must have been, I lashed out at him by swearing allegiance for the first time and forevermore to the Los Angeles Dodgers, their crosstown rivals and his most hated team.
The seeds had been planted by my Mother’s side of the family, all of them Dodger fans through and through, including a half sister that lived with us in Downey for a time. She got married when I was five and left behind a token for me, her LP of Vin Scully calling the ’81 World Series. It was one of two times I can say she showed genuine love for me.
To his credit, though, he took me to games at Dodger Stadium a few times a season, when he got tickets from work or when we’d make plans to meet one of the Uncles there. I didn’t even know shit about baseball back then, didn’t understand the little marks my Aunt Yolanda would make in the game day program when we’d go with Uncle George, let alone shit all about earned run averages, force plays, and sac bunts. Try as he did in his recalling the old days and the players of yore like Babe Ruth, it wasn’t the man who called himself my father that taught me the history, the grace, the lore that cultivated my love of this perfect game of baseball, it was Vin Scully.
You learn what to do at the Stadium, apparent when you hear the rise and fall of the AM crackle of transistor radios — in the hands and ears of fellow fans throughout the park. Some wore headphones, some didn’t, which was always handy if your batteries went dead or your signal was bad that day. There was nothing better than going out to a game, drinking beer in the sun with your buzz creeping on, Mr. Scully’s echoing voice waxing and waning poetic on both the history and the anecdotal in equal measure, and oftentimes blending the two into the perfect story that only he could tell.
It seemed as though the entire city held it’s breath every winter as we waited to hear whether or not the coming season would be his last.
I’d grown accustomed to watching every one of his games these last few years, versus the dreaded Giants on the radio only now that I live in the Bay, evoking always that familiar crackle I used to hear trickling throughout the stadium, the crackle that always felt like a welcome home in my ears.
I ditched class for Opening Day every year until I left, grew accustomed to that, too, and thankful for the privilege.
I spent this past off-season reflecting upon, wondering how I would feel starting another season of Dodger baseball, our first without Vin Scully. The thought of watching, let alone listening to a game while another announcer does the play by play, just seems. Unimaginable. Though following baseball while the world burns down around us seems unimaginable, as well. But I will, though from a distance now, at least for the foreseeable future, our warm voice of summer listening in with his grandkids, somewhere.
I’m sure one day I’ll speak of him, something along the lines of, “let me tell you about Vin Scully, Bee,” just like he once spoke of Babe Ruth to me…