Vin Scully: Remembering baseball broadcaster interview


Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully speaks during his induction into the team's Ring of Honor prior to a baseball game between the Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants in Los Angeles on May 3, 2017, in Los Angeles.  Scully, whose dulcet tones provided the soundtrack of summer while entertaining and informing Dodgers fans in Brooklyn and Los Angeles for 67 years, died Aug.  2, 2022.

Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully speaks during his induction into the team’s Ring of Honor prior to a baseball game between the Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants in Los Angeles on May 3, 2017, in Los Angeles. Scully, whose dulcet tones provided the soundtrack of summer while entertaining and informing Dodgers fans in Brooklyn and Los Angeles for 67 years, died Aug. 2, 2022.

AP

The recent death of Vin Scully, renowned Los Angeles Dodgers announcer and National Radio Hall of Fame inductee, brought to mind a remarkable day in the early 1980s.

That was the day I interviewed Scully at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida.

In Florida to report on Major League Baseball spring training for San Luis Obispo radio station KSLY-FM, I arranged the interview with Scully but never expected two legendary Dodgers players to join the conversation.

With my reel-to-reel tape recorder rolling and type-written questions in hand, I was a bit nervous to be in the presence of a broadcast giant. I did my best to fully absorb the moment.

Scully deftly responded to my questions for a few minutes – some of the most treasured moments in my journalism career – when Sandy Koufax, who was at Dodgers spring training to tutor young pitchers, unexpectedly walked into the room.

Vin and I quickly stood up. Vin introduced me, and I shook the strong hand of the legendary Dodgers pitcher and National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee.

I wondered if Koufax would remember me. Hey there.

“I met John in San Luis Obispo last year,” Koufax told Scully.

Koufax lived in Templeton and displayed a talent for shooting black-and-white film. He was acquainted with a graphic designer – a dear friend of mine – whose darkroom was available to him.

It was a thrill to be remembered by the Dodgers great.

Koufax and Scully agreed I could keep the tape recorder rolling, and wonderful baseball stories flowed freely. I became the listener, not the guy asking questions.

But Scully, ever classy, ​​had a way of involving me, and I never forgot his grace.

He was a supernova-level standout in the broadcast world, perhaps the best there ever was or will be, and yet he was also the quintessential down-to-earth professional.

Soon, to my continuing wonder, another of the celebrated Boys of Summer walked in. It was Dodgers center fielder Duke Snider, the Duke of Flatbush himself.

As a lifelong baseball devotee, I felt as though the gods of baseball immersed me in their luminosity.

The three of us stood up and Scully introduced me to Snider.

The Baseball Hall of Famer was then a play-by-play broadcaster for the Montreal Expos, who happened to be playing the Dodgers that day.

I was a small-town radio reporter in a room with three baseball icons, listening to them share stories.

Could it get any better than this? It could.

After the interview, I headed towards the practice fields, where Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda was holding court.

I had two cameras dangling from my backpack, and a man in a suit and tie walked up to me.

“Are you a photographer?” he asked, somewhat out of breath.

“Yes I am,” I replied.

He explained that the Dodgers were dedicating a street to Snider – and renaming it Duke Snider Way. The photographer who was scheduled to take the photos had been in a car crash, and was delayed.

The man asked if I would be willing to take photos of the event.

Well, is water wet? Is grass green? I jumped at the chance, and made sure I had film in my best camera and a clean lens.

On hand to be photographed at the dedication were Koufax, Snider, Dodgers pitcher Don Drysdale, Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley and Dodgers general manager Al Campanis.

I didn’t have access to a darkroom, so I just finished the roll and gave it to the Dodgers staff. He printed the pictures he needed, then gave me some 8- by 10-inch glossies and the roll of film.

Yes, I still have the photos, but not that treasured tape recording.

I stored the recording along with boxes of professional materials in the basement of a friend’s house before leaving San Diego to visit my parents in Colorado. When I returned, all my materials had been cleared out and dumped.

To say that my response involved anger and heartbreak is a great understatement.

Notwithstanding my anguish over the missing recording, I will always have crystal-clear recollections of that magical day with Vin Scully, Sandy Koufax and Duke Snider.

As journalists the world over scurry to acknowledge Scully’s redoubtable impact on the game of baseball and on broadcasting, I feel fortunate to have my own story to share.

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