Vincent E. Scully, Class of 1944
With the longest tenure of any broadcaster with a single club in professional sports history, Vin Scully, the play-by-play voice of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers for over sixty years, is one of the bright stars in the constellation of Prep alumni baseball notables — a collection of former Prepsters representing nearly the whole of hardball history, as far back as Scully's fellow Hall of Honor member Esteban Bellán, a member of the Class of 1866.
Over the years, Scully has come to hold the record for the number of World Series called, has received scores of professional honors and has announced some of baseball’s most memorable moments including Koufax’ perfect game, Larson’s perfect game, and Aaron’s 715th homerun. Once dubbed “The Fordham Thrush” for the unmistakably smooth and musical quality of his voice, Scully would come to be known as “Baseball’s Poet Laureate.”
Vincent Edward Scully was born in the Bronx in November of 1927 to immigrant parents Vincent Aloysius Scully, a salesman in the silk business, and Bridget “Bridie” Freehill Scully, an “Irish, red-headed and excitable” homemaker — as lovingly described by Scully to his biographers. He spent his early years in Washington Heights in northern Manhattan. As the stories go, Vin first came to Fordham in his stroller, pushed along by his parents on their long, slow strolls around the campus on fair-weather afternoons. It seems that Bridget’s carriageside prayers that her little boy might someday study at Rose Hill would not go unanswered.
Tragedy would strike the Scullys in 1932 when Vin’s father died of pneumonia. In her grief, Bridget took her son to spend some time among family in Ireland before returning to the United States and resuming their lives in Washington Heights. She remarried in 1935, and Vinnie would come to regard Allan Reeve, an English sailor, with great respect and affection — the only father he would ever really know. A sister was born: Margaret, and together, brother and sister grew up, perhaps not wealthy, but in a good home with the love of two parents.
Scully received a solid primary education at Incarnation, his local parish grammar school, in those days staffed by the Sisters of Charity, the order of Vin’s fellow Hall of Honor members who had been on hand for Fordham’s inaugural year a century before his freshman year. As related in an interview with the National Catholic Register, by age 8 Vin had already had announcer’s booth dreams, once writing an essay for Sr. Virginia Maria, SC about wanting to be a radio announcer when he grew up.
In a 1982 television tribute hosted by Danny Kaye, Vin recalled his early fascination with broadcasting to be a broadcaster:
I would come home to listen to a football game — there weren’t other sports on — and I would get a pillow and I would crawl under the radio, so that the loudspeaker and the roar of the crowd would wash all over me, and I would just get goose bumps like you can’t believe. And I knew that of all the things in this world that I wanted, I wanted to be that fella saying, whatever, home run, or touchdown. It just really got to me.
After his Incarnation School days, red-headed Bridget’s red-headed son would realize his mother’s Rose Hill hopes for him and would start at the Prep in 1940 as a member of Homeroom 1C. He graduated from the Prep in 1944 and from the university in 1948 – years during which Vinnie not only came to leave his mark on his beloved Fordham, but came to take those first real steps towards a lifetime on the air.
At Rose Hill, besides playing center field for the Rams during both his Prep and college years, Scully had his first real taste of public speaking, journalism, entertainment and broadcasting. At the Prep, he studied elocution and was involved in oratory contests, covered sports for Rampart, and strutted and fretted his hour upon the stage of Collins Auditorium — once even in the role of Myra Thornhill in George M. Cohan’s Seven Keys to Baldpate — actual girls were not invited to try out for Prep shows in those days. As a classmate recalled of Scully’s bewigged performance: “Vin was especially terrific, with a lot of comedy that had the audience roaring!”
During his years at the college, Scully not only wrote for the sports section of the Ram and sang with a barbershop quartet called the Shaving Mugs, but he also launched his broadcasting career when he helped to found WFUV, Fordham’s radio station, still in operation today.
Graduating Fordham University, Vin got his first break when he was hired by Red Barber, sports director of the CBS Radio Network, to call college football games. In 1950, Scully joined his mentor Barber as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers broadcast team. When Barber got into a salary dispute with a World Series sponsor in 1953, Scully took his spot and became, at age 25, the youngest person ever to broadcast a Fall Classic, a record that was still standing at the time of his 21st century induction to the Prep Hall of Honor. Scully would become the team’s principal announcer that year, following the organization in 1957, when both the Giants and the Dodgers left for the West Coast, a departure that old-time New York baseball fans still view with chagrin.
Besides calling baseball games, Vin retained his football announcing credentials by calling NFL games for CBS TV from 1975 to 1982. He also covered both tennis and golf events, including the Masters Tournament for CBS Sports. He was lead announcer for radio World Series coverage from 1979-1982 and again from 1990-1997. In 1983 Scully decided to leave CBS Sports for NBC television, where he is probably best remembered. He was the lead announcer for the Saturday “Game of the Week” as well as for three World Series, four National League Championship Series and four All-Star games.
In 1976, Scully, who has always broadcast Dodger games solo, was selected by Dodgers’ fans as “Most Memorable Personality” (on the field or off) in the team’s history. Six years later, he received the Ford Frick Award, inducting him into the broadcaster’s wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame. He has been named “California Sportscaster of the Year” 21 times, received the Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award for sportscasting in 1995, and was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame the same year. To start off the 21st-century leg of his marathon career, the American Sportscasters Association named Scully “Broadcaster of the Century” in 2000.
Vin Scully is the father of four, stepfather of two, and a grandfather and great-grandfather many times over. He is married to Sandra Jean Hunt Schaefer Scully, formerly a secretary with the Los Angeles Rams, with whom he has shared the triumphs and tragedies of his life and legendary career for nearly half a century. His first wife, Joan Crawford Scully — not the actress, though by all accounts lovely enough to have graced any silver screen — passed away in 1972, leaving Vin a young widower with children. In a 2013 interview, Scully credits his faith with getting him through the tragedy:
I was devastated, as were our children. We didn’t stop praying, though. The worst thing you can do in times of trial is to stop praying. The tough moments are when you need God the most. He’s always there and more than happy to give us his help; we need only ask for it.
There are so many good things about the Church, but that might be the most essential thing I’ve learned from it: the importance of continual communication with God. That’s what all the kneelers, candles, incense, stained-glass windows, holy water and other things are about: directing our minds and hearts to God.
After 67 years in the booth, Vincent Scully would retire from broadcasting at the end of the 2016 season, calling his last game on October 2nd. Among the many honors and ceremonies to mark the end of his legendary career, the address of Dodgers Stadium was permanantly changed to 1000 Vin Scully Avenue, Los Angeles, California, 90012.
To close, Scully on Scully, a few words from "The Poet Laureate" himself:
All my career, all I have ever really done, all I ever have accomplished, is to talk about the accomplishments of others. We can’t all be heroes. Somebody has to stand on the curb and applaud as the parade goes by.