Vin Scully is the defining voice of baseball for Angelenos and tens of millions of Americans. He died on Tuesday at the age of 94.
Scully spent 67 years calling games for the Dodgers. The story of baseball and the story of Los Angeles cannot be fully told without Vincent Edward Scully; so great was his career, and so vast was the scope of his resonance in a sport and the city he called home.
Yet, as closely linked as Scully is with the sport of baseball, it was a college football game which launched the redhead’s towering and iconic career.
It was November 12, 1949, and Scully was just a 21-year-old looking to break into broadcasting after graduating from Fordham University. A special circumstance had helped him land the job of calling the game at Fenway Park between 6-0 Boston University and 5-1 Maryland.
At first, Ernie Harwell (later the longtime announcer of the Detroit Tigers) had been given the game at Fenway, but he was reassigned to call the North Carolina-Notre Dame game at Yankee Stadium when the original broadcaster fell ill.
Scully was given the task of heading to Boston by another famous Dodgers announcer, Red Barber, who was then the sports director for CBS Radio. According to Barber, he only remembered Scully by the color of his hair.
“We needed someone to go up to Boston,” Barber told the Los Angeles Times in 1984. “I asked Ted Church for the name of that red-haired kid he had brought in. He didn’t know. I asked around, and nobody knew. I remembered he’d said he had attended Fordham, so I called Jack Coffee, the Fordham athletic director. That’s how I got Scully’s name and number.”
Having landed the job in Boston, Scully was simultaneously looking forward to attending a dance that night at Boston College (since Fordham was playing there on the same day). As a result, he decided to leave his warmer clothing at the hotel so that he would be “unencumbered” later at dance. Scully assumed he would be warm in a broadcasting booth.
“It was cold,” Scully noted in a recent interview, “but I thought — naively, dumbly — ‘I’m going to be working for a network; I’ll have a big booth.’ “
This proved a mistaken belief when he was shown onto the roof, as there were no free booths.
Forced to call the game while sitting at a table outside and exposed to the cold, Scully calmly pressed on with the broadcast. By the end of the afternoon, his call received the majority of CBS’ attention as the Boston…