When Vin Scully retired following the 2016 season, he closed a chapter of Los Angeles Dodgers history. Scully, a Ford C. Frick Award winner, was the last active connection to the Dodgers’ days in Brooklyn. His first season in the booth was 1950, when he did simulcasts for television and radio.
Over the span of his 67 seasons calling Dodgers games, the redhead with a distinctive baritone called many great games for the franchise. That stretch included the most successful and exciting in Dodgers history: Scully, who died at the age of 94 on Aug. 2, was behind the microphone for six World Series titles and 18 pennants.
He called opening days for nearly seven decades, thrilling walk-off wins, and a perfect game. He was there for Jackie Robinson and Sandy Koufax, as well as Steve Garvey and Orel Hershiser, on to the stellar careers of Mike Piazza and Clayton Kershaw. As much as the players who wore Dodger Blue, Scully was just as important to Dodger baseball for generations of fans.
In his final broadcast, on Oct. 2, 2016, Scully signed off with these words:
You and I have been friends for a long time, but I know in my heart that I’ve always needed you more than you’ve ever needed me, and I’ll miss our time together more than I can say. But you know what? There will be a new day and eventually a new year. And when the upcoming winter gives way to spring, rest assured, once again it will be “time for Dodger baseball.” So this is Vin Scully wishing you a very pleasant good afternoon, wherever you may be.
It was the end of an era. But there’s no reason to forget the indelible mark that Scully made on Dodger baseball. To many, when they think back to a key moment in Dodger baseball, it’s Scully who narrates their memories. Because of that special honor he holds, we’ve selected the seven most famous Dodger calls by Vin Scully.
1. 1955 World Series, Game 7: Dodgers Finally Beat the Yankees
It’s hard to remember now, in this era of Dodger excellence, but for much of the first 70 years of Major League Baseball, the Brooklyn Dodgers were a laughingstock. The team was rarely competitive, and their ballpark was small and tucked away in a borough of New York that didn’t seem to measure up to the rest of the city.
Dodger fans were blue collar types. Yankee and Giants fans were winners.
After World War II, the Dodgers experienced a stretch of heartbreak unparalleled in sports history: They lost the World Series four times between 1947 and 1953. In 1950 and 1951, the Dodgers lost the pennant on the final day of the regular season.
The team seemed destined to always be a bridesmaid. Most Brooklyn baseball fans just accepted their fate as second-fiddles. The phrase used by the hopeful was “Wait ‘Til Next Year!”
Then came 1955.
Led by Robinson, Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, and Roy Campanella, the “Boys of Summer” finally got their World Series title, the first in franchise history. In Game 7 of the World Series, a young lefty named Johnny Podres baffled the Yankees to get the win, 2-0. Scully was in the press box at Yankee Stadium when the final out was recorded. His call was simple:
“Ladies and gentlemen, the Brooklyn Dodgers are champions of the world.”
“Had I tried to say anything else,” Scully remembered years later, “I probably would have broken down.”
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2. 1988 World Series, Game 1: ‘She is gone!’
No one thought Kirk Gibson would play in the 1988 World Series.
The Dodger star had hurt his leg in the playoffs and did not start Game 1. The team trailed by a run in the ninth when Oakland ran out closer Dennis Eckersley. When “Eck” entered the game, it was usually all but over. But the Dodgers got a baserunner, and amazingly, the gimpy Gibson emerged from the clubhouse to pinch-hit.
Looking pretty anemic on a few swings, and after one aborted scramble down the first base line on a grounder that went foul, Gibby looked like a sacrificial lamb at the hands of Eckersley’s knife.
But on a 3-2 count, Gibson managed to get the meaty part of the bat on a slider. Scully reacted with excitement.
“There’s a high fly ball to right field … she is GONE!”
Several seconds of silence from Scully while the Dodger Stadium crowd noise dominated the broadcast. Finally:
“In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened.”
Scully’s greatness was also on display in his description of the replay, when he said of the limping Gibson:
“Now the only question was: Could he make it around the base paths unassisted?”
3. Sept. 9, 1965: Koufax is Perfect (‘2-and-2 to Harvey Kuenn … ‘)
This was a classic game call that centered on the pure greatness of a legend.
Koufax simply dominated the Cubs in this game near the end of the 1965 season. Scully, no stranger to no-hitters, painted a picture with his words, building the drama into the ninth inning as the Dodger pitcher approached history with his famous fastball.
“That time he tried so hard his hat fell off,” and, “You can’t blame a man for pushing a little harder now.”
And then the famous payoff:
“It is 9:46 p.m. … 2-and-2 to Harvey Kuenn … one strike away … Sandy into his windup … here’s the pitch … swung on and missed … a perfect game!”
Scully let nearly 30 seconds elapse before he spoke again, allowing the cheers at Dodger Stadium to waft into the microphone.
“On the scoreboard in right field, it is 9:46 p.m. in the City of The Angels, Los Angeles, California. And a crowd of 29,139, just sitting in to see the only pitcher in baseball history to hurl four no-hit, no-run games. He has done it four straight years, and now he capped it, on his fourth no-hitter he made it a perfect game.”
You can hear the final half-inning of Koufax’s perfect game here.
4. April 8 1974: Henry Aaron’s Record-Breaking 715th Home Run
As fate would have it, the Dodgers were in Atlanta to play the Braves for the first road series of 1974.
For months since the end of the 1973 season, Hank Aaron was tied with Babe Ruth with 714 career home runs. The home run record was the greatest accomplishment in sports, and with Aaron on the precipice, Scully was in the booth at Fulton County Stadium when the Atlanta slugger stepped to the plate in the fourth inning.
“One ball and no strikes, Aaron waiting, the outfield deep and straightaway … fastball is a high drive into deep left-center field … Buckner goes back to the fence, it is GONE!”
Subsequently, following Aaron’s rounding of the bases and a celebration at home plate, Scully waxed philosophic, making a point that was important in the context of American race relations.
“What a marvelous moment for baseball. What a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia. What a marvelous moment for the country and the world: A Black man is getting a standing ovation in the deep south for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol. It is a great moment for all of us,” Scully said.
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5. June 18, 2014: Clayton Kershaw’s No-Hitter
When a story is unfolding, no one could craft a compelling narrative better than Scully. On June 18, 2014 at Dodger Stadium, as it became evident that Kershaw had his best stuff, Scully dug deep into his archive of Dodger moments.
“Clayton is a smart young man. He knows about Sandy Koufax. He knows he’s compared to the great left-hander,” Scully said in the ninth inning. “This is his moment: What he does with it after 101 pitches, we are delighted to share with you.”
Kershaw struck out 15 batters without issuing a walk in an 8-0 Dodgers win in front of a boisterous crowd in LA. For the final out, Scully was fairly quiet, allowing the drama to build (he was working that inning on TV). When Kershaw fanned the final batter, Vin simply said, “He’s got it.”
6. June 29, 1990: Fernando’s No-Hitter
Probably the most beloved player in all the years that Scully called Dodger games was the Mexican-born pitcher Fernando Valenzuela.
When he emerged as a 20-year old rookie in 1981, “Fernandomania” gripped Los Angeles and baseball, with the lefty using his unusual delivery (rolling his eyes upward), and a dazzling screwball to confound hitters. Fernando won the Rookie of the Year and Cy Young that season, pitching LA to the World Series title.
By 1990, Fernando was an older man whose best years were in the past. But for one magic evening in late June at Dodger Stadium, Fernando turned back the clock and pitched a brilliant game against the Cardinals. When he finished off his masterpiece, Scully had the appropriate words, as usual:
“If you have a sombrero, throw it to the sky!”
7. Sept. 25, 2016: Final Call at Dodger Stadium, Walk-off Home Run
Scully announced his intention to retire after the upcoming season in January 2016. As it became clear that LA would most likely make the postseason, he revealed his decision that the regular season would be his last games. He did not want to “say goodbye several times” not knowing which playoff game might be his last.
Thus, the final weekend home series against Colorado would be Vin’s last in the booth.
It just so happened that the Dodgers were one win (or Giants loss) away from clinching the National League West on Sunday, Sept. 25. The baseball gods lined it up perfectly, and a dramatic ending proved to be Scully’s last call.
Charlie Culberson came up in the bottom of the 10th with the game tied, 3-3, and two outs:
“High fly ball to left … would you believe a home run?”
“The Dodgers have clinched the division, and will celebrate on schedule.”
“Leave it to the Dodgers … Charlie Culberson a game-winning home run … what a moment to have it … and would you believe, his first home run of the year?”
The end of an era had a storybook finish.