Vince Scully: Blessed by God for longevity as broadcaster

CNS photo/Jon Soohoo, EPA

As veteran Los Angeles Dodgers' announcer Vin Scully retired after the 2016 season, his 67th announcing games for the baseball franchise, he thanked God for giving him the job at such a youthful age and allowing him to live long enough to spend so many years at the microphone.

The beloved, spry 87-year-old broadcaster was a role model for older workers, continuing to excel at his craft in his later years. Once voted by fans as the "Most Popular Dodger" of all, he also doubled as lector for the regular vigil Mass at Dodger Stadium. Scully won the Ford Frick Award for baseball broadcast excellence bestowed annually by the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He also won a lifetime achievement Emmy in 1995 for his work in television, and was voted "Broadcaster of the Century" by his peers in 2000.

On Sept. 25, the final Los Angeles Dodgers Mass of the season included a presentation to Scully. Ministry Coordinator Kevin O'Malley presented Scully with a framed print of Pope Francis and thanked him for his support for Catholic Athletes for Christ over the years and for his recent work on a new audio recording of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary to help raise funds for CAC operations. Catholic Athletes for Christ organizes Masses across the country for 26 of the 30 teams on homestand weekends.

The Mass was attended by more than 40 players, coaches, stadium workers, broadcasters and media officials. The weekend also marked the first time that all 15 Major League Baseball home stadiums hosted a Catholic Mass.

"How much longer can you go on fooling people?" Scully said last year when he announced he would broadcast only one more year. The lifelong Catholic attended Fordham Preparatory School and Fordham University in New York and now attends St. Jude the Apostle Church in Westlake Village, Calif. "So yeah, I would be saying, 'Dear God, if you give me next year, I'll hang it up.'"

Scully began broadcasting Dodger baseball in 1950, at age 22, when the Dodgers were in Brooklyn. He became the team's lead announcer in 1953, and has served in that role ever since. His status as an icon became firm after the team moved to Los Angeles in 1958, with many Dodger fans insisting on bringing portable listening devices (starting with transistor radios) to listen to Scully, even though the game was right in front of them.

Because of his advancing age and desire to spend more time with his wife, children and grandchildren, Scully curtailed his workload in recent years only broadcasting Dodger home games and road games in California. Longtime St. Louis Cardinals broadcaster Jack Buck, who died in 2002, also had limited his duties in later years of his career.

Scully noted that other longtime baseball announcers associated with some of baseball's most storied franchises — Buck, the Yankees' Mel Allen, the Giants' Russ Hodges — have come and gone. "And you know what?" he said. "They kept playing the games, and the fans kept coming. So I know I can be replaced."

Scully has also called baseball games for national radio (CBS) and television (NBC), and in the 1970s and 1980s served as an announcer for nationally televised pro football, golf and tennis events. His resume includes dozens of World Series, League Championship Series, All-Star Games and no-hit efforts, including several perfect games.

The broadcaster received the Gabriel Personal Achievement Award June 2 from the Catholic Academy of Communication Professionals. The award was presented during the Catholic Media Convention in St. Louis.

In 2009, Scully received the Cardinal's Award from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for his service to the local church and community. He credited his Catholic faith with getting him through after the death of his first wife by accidental overdose and the death of his son in a helicopter crash.

"I think about my career," he told The Tidings, newspaper of the archdiocese, in a 2008 interview, "and all I can say is, 'Thank God who made it all possible.'"

At the 2015 news conference at Dodger Stadium — where the press room was named for him in 2001 — Scully displayed customary humility as he sought to minimize the fuss over his plans to step aside from the broadcast booth. "When it all boils down, I am the most ordinary man you've ever met," he said. "I was given an extraordinary opportunity, and God has blessed me for doing it all these years."

Some information for this article was provided by St. Louis Review Staff Writer Joseph Kenny. 

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