Baseball BeatMarch 26, 2005
I Saw It On The Radio
By Rich Lederer

Like Eric Neel, Vincent Edward Scully was my favorite announcer growing up and, in fact, Vinny remains atop my list to this day.

"Dodger baseball is on the air" meant a whole lot more than just listening to another baseball game. Don't get me wrong, the baseball games were great. But they were made even greater by Vinny. The games were just not quite the same when Scully's sidekick, Jerry Doggett, was on the air for his two innings of work. This is not a knock on Doggett. Nobody could match Vin, be it his distinctive voice, his engaging stories, how he called the game and how he sometimes let the game call itself.

The Dodgers may as well have given the redhead a uniform because he was every bit as much a part of the team as Hall of Famers Walter Alston, Roy Campanella, Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, Tommy Lasorda, Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, or Don Sutton. The graduate of Fordham University has been calling Dodgers games since he partnered up with the great Red Barber back in Brooklyn in 1950. He has outlasted Walter O'Malley, Peter O'Malley, and, thankfully, FOX to entertain three generations of fans.

Over the years, I have had the privilege of hearing Scully, now 77, bring us Sandy Koufax's four no-hitters, Don Drysdale's and Orel Hershiser's consecutive scoreless innings records, Kirk Gibson's World Series pinch-hit home run, and hundreds of other moments that remain firmly entrenched in my memory bank. I treasure some of his recordings, including the ninth inning of Koufax's perfect game, the highlights of Drysdale's streak, and Dodgers '59 (an LP of "the season's most thrilling moments as reported on KMPC by Vin Scully").

Vin Scully and Dad.jpgWhen I was a kid, my Dad (at left, sitting next to Scully at a restaurant, circa mid-1960s) worked nights. You see, he was either in the pressbox at Dodger Stadium or at Candlestick Park, Crosley Field, Forbes Field, or one of the other ballparks in the National League. With my Dad not home and able to tuck me into bed, it was Vin Scully's voice who I would last hear before falling asleep at night. I would turn the "sleep" dial to the maximum allowable 60 minutes and hope I could stay awake just long enough to catch the last out.

Back in the "old" days, baseball games routinely started at 8:00 p.m. The only Dodger games that were ever televised were the nine on the road in San Francisco. That was it. These games were incredibly special. There were usually three series of three games. As such, we would watch the Dodgers on TV no more than about every other month.

I remember watching most of the Dodgers-Giants games in black and white. My Dad received a big color TV console from the Dodgers as a Christmas present after the team won the World Series in 1959, but my parents traded it in after a couple of years for an equally large High-Fidelity stereo. The Hi-Fi had two speakers built into the walnut-stained furniture that housed this new piece of technology.

But I didn't need a Hi-Fi stereo to listen to the Dodger games. I only needed my bedside radio. Me 'n' Vinny. I'll be the first to admit that li'l Richard felt very secure in bed, knowing Vin was there keeping me company.

Given the choice, I would rather listen to Vinny than just watch a game. With the introduction of cable-TV, there are nearly as many games broadcast on television as on radio. As a result, it is now possible to do both. But there was a time when I saw almost all the Dodger games on the radio. Yes, with Scully describing the action, I saw all of those Dodger games even though they weren't on TV.

* * * * *

Play-By-Play (I Saw it on the Radio)

-- Terry Cashman

Play-by-play on the radio

("There's a long one, deep to left center, back goes Gionfriddo. Back, back, back, back, back, back, he makes a one-handed catch against the bullpen. Oh ho, doctor!")

Out on the porch in the summer heat
The sound of a southerner's voice filled the street
Me 'n' the Redhead were up in the catbird's seat

And out in St. Lou it was surely the same
Holy cow! What a baseball game
The sacks are loaded and here comes that Man again

And it was play-by-play on the radio
Play-by-play on the radio
Play-by-play, I saw it on the radio

The swing of The Splinter, DiMaggio's glide
The men at the mics made it come alive
Ernie and Mel and Bob was a Prince of a guy

Out of thin air pictures somehow appear
You can smell the hot dogs and taste the beer
I felt the excitement as the crowd began to cheer

And it was play-by-play on the radio
Play-by-play on the radio
Play-by-play, I saw it on the radio

Play by play, I saw it on the radio...

("There's a drive, way back, it may be, it could be, it is"..."Base hit, right field, the Tigers win it, here comes Kaline to score and it's all over"..."Stargell swings and there's a long drive hit deep into right field, going way back, back, back, back, she goes and you may kiss it goodbye, over the roof for a home run")

The men at the mic, they make it come alive
Oh, what a catch, there's a long, long drive
Turn it up louder, the pictures are coming in fine

And it's play-by-play on the radio
Play-by-play on the radio

Yes, day after day
Play-by-play, I saw it on the radio
Play-by-play, I saw it on the radio...

("It is going, it is going, it is gone")

* * * * *

Thank goodness for baseball, radio, TV, and play-by-play announcers. And thank you, Vinny. You allowed me to see a lot of games on the radio.


Thanks to reader "Sidecar," I have fixed the second line in the lyrics. I actually typed the words by listening to the song and replaying it over and over as I wasn't able to "Google" the lyrics with any success.

The great thing about baseball is that the way you feel about Scully, someone in Detroit felt about Ernie Harwell, or someone in Philadelphia feels about Harry Kalas. (Me, I'm writing this in Virginia, listening to Charlie Slowes call the Nationals-Braves game.) Baseball remains the nonpareil radio game, no matter how hacks like John Sterling assault the listener's sensibilities.

Ah, Vin Scully! I grew up in Bakersfield in the 1960s (now live in Northern Va.) and essentially learned baseball from Vinny. I didn't even root for the Dodgers but I loved (and still love) Vin Scully. He, too, was my bedtime companion ... I'd slide my avocado green transistor radio under my pillow and try to stay awake... and my companion as I rode my bicycle around the neighborhood. His voice still brings memories of my childhood and happiness. I've long thought that when I die, I next want to hear Vin's voice (could God have a more warm, friendly or welcoming voice?) telling me that "were just getting started here so pull up a chair and join us for a while". No one paints a picture like Vinny ... and I was reminded the other day while at a Nationals game that NO ONE ... NO ONE could read lips like Vinny, who could tell you what the manager screamed at the ump and what he said back (as long as it didn't violate radio standards!).

LOOKS like Vin has a few friends out there.he is a great announcer& a even greater human. Vin is my brother in law,next to my lord & my daddy he is the kindest man alive. BASEBALL THE MAN IS BASEBALL!! 1-14-06 5:23pm

You got an "Amen!" from this corner, brother. I only have one small bone to pick: I love Vin Scully, too, but NOBODY tops Red Barber in my book. I was a baseball-playing kid in the '50's (B. 1944), and I pulled the same trick w/my Emerson black table-top radio that Kirk pulled w/his green transistor. For me there was no magic like the (original) redhead's voice "coming to you from Montague Street in Brooklyn, New York" on the breezes of the night on Florida's east coast. And Mel Allen was next in line. I should explain that I grew up schizoid, in a household where Mom was an ardent Yankee fan - grew up in Atlanta in the '30's when they would play a 3-game set w/the old Atlanta Crackers on the way back to NYC after Spring training; Dad, on the other hand, lived and died w/the Dodguhs. October was frequently a hard month for me, until I developed my own loyalties. The Cashman album is unsurpassable!