February 17, 2017
His 67 years of consecutive service with the Dodgers was the longest of any sports broadcaster with one team, and baseball in California will never be the same without this icon on the airwaves.
Rarely has the story been told of how Scully got his start in broadcasting.
The late Bill Esposito, esteemed sports information director at St. John’s University and former columnist for Collegiate Baseball, was one of the fortunate people to have heard one of his first broadcasts, and it wasn’t from Ebbets Field when he broke in with the old Dodgers.
It was from Dexter Park out in Queens, and Scully was playing right field for Fordham University.
“Fordham was visiting St. John’s on this bright, spring day back in 1948,” explained Esposito a number of years ago in a column for Collegiate Baseball.
“It was a game between two old New York rivals in the blessed Metropolitan Collegiate Baseball Conference, the fabled subway circuit what was called the ‘nickel’ league because that’s what the subway cost in those days.
“The St. John’s bullpen crew, led by a dashing, handsome redhead of myriad talent and masculine charm (guess who?) settled into place while Gerry Brown of the Redmen had at the Fordhams.
“Jim Arbucho pitched for them, so the bullpens could take it easy for the day, Brown and Arbucho being among the best in college baseball.
“The game was close all the way and St. John’s up, 3-2, going into the ninth.
“Then Fordham tied it up by getting a man around to third as he scored when one of the Brown’s snapping curves slid by St. John’s catcher Jack Gimmler.
“Fordham won it in the 14th, but we are getting ahead of ourselves here. We are talking about Vin Scully.
“Scully, his bright red curls sticking outside his maroon Fordham hat, was playing right field for the Rams. This put him in the unenviable position of taking considerable flak from the St. John’s bullpen, on the rightfield corner just off the line.
“Rightfielders were a special target, especially Fordham rightfielders. Comments were made on his lineage, his floppy baseball trousers, his outsized sunglasses and his mental standing in the oryx kingdom.
“But Vin was smart. He didn’t answer back.
“The whole idea was to get the denizen of the outer garden to answer back, to engage, to volley.
“We had a fellow do that once, and I must say he was getting ahead of us when one of our sturdy batsmen whaled one into the deep right pocket catching our deponent with his teeth in his mouth. While he chased the ball around, we chortled and as for any more comments that afternoon, deponent sayeth naught.
“He just glared at us.
“While Scully didn’t answer us back, he wasn’t quiet either. So we listened and there he was, this gangling outfielder, doing a play-by-play of the game in which he was playing.
“Now that, as you might imagine, brought a cacophony of criticism, a veritable symphony of semantics.
“Didn’t bother Vin. He just kept on broadcasting to an audience of mortal enemies. He’s never face a tougher crowd.
“He didn’t do well with the bat as he went 0-for-6 at the plate. But this didn’t matter to him as his team won.”
To read more of this story about Vin Scully, purchase the Feb. 10, 2017 edition or subscribe by CLICKING HERE.