When the Dodgers named their press box after Vin Scully in 2001, the team wanted one of the beat writers to say a few words at the ceremony. That honor somehow fell to me. I was 27 and covering the Dodgers for the Riverside Press-Enterprise.
After preparing some brief remarks, I watched the crowd gather outside the press box. Manager Jim Tracy and first baseman Eric Karros had come upstairs in full uniform. The widows of Don Drysdale and Roy Campanella were there, along with Scully’s wife, children and grandchildren.
I could feel the butterflies and mentioned this to team spokesman Derrick Hall.
“Don’t worry,” he said. “I don’t think you’re going to upstage the guest of honor.”
My turn came right after Stu Nahan, ringside announcer from the movie “Rocky,” spoke on behalf of the broadcasters. My speech went fine, and a short time later, Scully took the microphone. What followed has stuck with me ever since. I’ve been thinking about it, as he prepares to call his final game in the Vin Scully Press Box on Sunday.
Back in 2001, the Dodgers had been waiting to name the press box after Scully for several years.
“I wanted to decline because I really felt that the press box, which is sacrosanct for the writers, was not the place to have a broadcaster’s name,” Scully said. “But then, as I thought more about it, I realized that my name will go up on the wall, not as a broadcaster, but as a connection -- as someone who connected all the dots.”
Scully offered a short history of the writers who’d covered the Dodgers, going back to Brooklyn. With that sing-song voice, he noted the scribes enshrined in Cooperstown, such as Bob Hunter, Ross Newhan, Jim Murray and Phil Collier. He mentioned the “wonderful characters” Gordon Verrell and Terry Johnson. “And now today, there are four more writers on the beat,” Scully said. “You have Jason Reid and Robert Kuwada. You also have Brian Dohn, and you’ve met Joe Christensen.”
I’m not sure my feet were touching the ground by this point. Getting to know Scully was one of the thrills of covering the Dodgers. One night a friend called to say, “Vin Scully just said your name on TV! He mentioned your story!”
That’s because Scully is a tireless researcher who’s quick to credit others for new material. At the press box dedication, he concluded his three-minute speech, saying, “So thank you for sharing this with me, and remember, anytime you walk by and see the name Scully on the press box, it is a representative name. It covers all those years, and all those writers, and I hope you’ll never forget that.”
We won’t, Vinny. We certainly won’t.