‘It’s like your childhood… is really over’: how Vin Scully bridged generations

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Audri Sandoval Gomez was watching the Dodgers-Giants game with her daughter on Tuesday night when the announcer came in with the news of Vin Scully’s death. Isabella, who was 3 when the legendary broadcaster retired in 2016, couldn’t understand why her mother started crying.

Gomez, 40, tried to explain. A die-hard Dodgers fan all her life, she wanted to talk about his stories, his poetry, the impact he made beyond describing ball games. But she kept thinking about the start of her family, who came to this country from Mexico.

Scully’s voice on radio and television was in the living room day in and day out, bringing the generations of her family closer together as they cheered and moaned at his play-by-play accounts and were mesmerized by the fantastic stories he told.

He called the game so beautiful, she recalled. His voice was magical, but he was also a bridge through time, bringing together young and old with life lessons that were easy to understand.

She turned to her daughter. There would be more to say, but for now the introduction was simple.

“You know those famous words?” she said. It’s time for Dodger baseball.

Isabella nodded.

“Well, those were his.”

Isabella was stunned: ‘Did he say that?’ — and Gomez knew she had taken the first step, passing part of Scully’s life to her daughter, just as her parents and grandparents had done for her years ago.

For nearly 60 years, Scully captivated Angelenos with stories from Dodger Stadium and from the road, but his reach in their lives is less measured by the strength of that broadcast signal than by four generations mesmerized by the cadence of his voice and his voice. spontaneous lyricism.

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Other cities had their Red Barber (New York) or Harry Caray (Chicago), but Scully belonged to Los Angeles. Arriving when he was just 30, he grew up professionally in this city.

The city, if not the region, was rapidly modernizing and growing, and he was there to take it all in — charming, captivating, and educating Dodgers fans through 11 presidents.

He helped see Los Angeles through its tragedies, and whenever the city lost its voice—challenged as it was by the riots of 1965 and ’92, earthquakes in Sylmar and Northridge, wildfires and recession—Scully could be counted on.

Baseball was his inspiration, and from opening day through fall, he let its rules and logic set the tone for an understanding of life that often transcends the sport.

“Baseball for Vinnie was much more than just a swing and a miss,” said Zev Yaroslavsky, the former LA city councilor and district supervisor who remembers defying his father as a boy by listening to games in the bedroom at night and to fall asleep to the rhythm. of Scully’s voice. “He was poetic and lyrical. He had this innate ability to paint a verbal picture worth a thousand pictures.”

Yaroslavsky remembers listening to a broadcast in 1959. He was 10 and Scully called an exhibition game between the Dodgers and Yankees.

Before the start of the sixth inning, Scully described how the Coliseum went dark and 93,000 fans aired games they had lit in tribute to Roy Campanella, the Brooklyn Dodgers star catcher who was paralyzed in a car accident before spring practice in 1958. the year the team arrived in LA

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“I couldn’t tell you five things about 1959,” Yaroslavsky said. “But Vin Scully who calls the candlelight play Roy Campanella is ingrained in my psyche, and that was the year my mother died.”

The rhythm of Scully’s speech and the simplicity of his stories filled silences in homes when explanations were too hard to find and when parents couldn’t find words.

Lakewood resident Mary Alice McLoughlin, a lifelong Dodgers fan, grew up in Wilmington and her father worked for Union Oil. During the summer, the radio or TV was always tuned to the Dodgers, so in 1974, when she was 14 and her mother died of cancer, Scully’s voice – “that Irish tenor with a little New York in it” – was reassuring.

“To have Vinnie on was like, ‘Okay, maybe it’ll be okay,'” she recalls. “Maybe the bottom hasn’t fallen out of the whole world. His voice was so reassuring. It gave me the feeling that it was going to be okay.”

As much as Scully was a historian and journalist – he researched every player, even the umpires – he was also a kind of parent to younger listeners, who thought they were listening to a baseball game but learned about patience and humility, a respect for tradition and an appreciation of statistics and facts.

Don Cardinal, who grew up listening to the Dodgers from his home in Downey in the 1960s, credits Scully for teaching him long division while calculating ERAs and batting averages. But there was more he learned.

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He too lost a parent, his father, at a young age and was angry as a teenager. And Scully — in a voice that was calm and authoritative — guided him on some level, passing on wisdom typically shared by older members of a household.

“He wasn’t shy about helping us understand how to behave,” said Cardinal, who especially admired the fact that Scully talked about players from other teams as much as he did Dodgers. “He taught me that it’s okay to care about your team, but not at the expense of the other team, and that it’s more important to appreciate good play than political parties or one’s skin color.”

Scully was also clear with his audience that baseball was just a game, the fun of which comes from seeing what players – all players – can achieve. Never didactic or heavy-handed, he let the storyline evolve from the action and play it right in the middle, no matter how high the stakes or how disappointing the loss.

When he remembered Scully, McLoughlin began to cry. “It’s ridiculous,” she said. “He was 94. We all knew this was coming, but we all hoped it would be later than sooner.”

When explaining the feeling, she paused.

“It’s over,” she said. “It’s as if your childhood – which was, of course, long ago – is now really over.”

And for Angelenos, that means saying goodbye to the man who has touched so many families from generation to generation.

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