When I write, I usually try to tell you something that you don't already know. I try to use numbers to explain why things seem to be the way they are....but today I'm going to do neither of those things. In fact, the only number I'm going to use is 67. That number doesn't represent Vin Scully's age; that represents the number of years, including this upcoming season, that he has been broadcasting Major League Baseball games.
Vin Scully is the greatest sports broadcaster to ever walk the Earth, and there is a very good chance that no one quite as good will ever come after he's retired, either. This isn't a debatable topic, like whether Clayton Kershaw or Jake Arrieta or Zack Greinke was the best pitcher in the NL last season; it's just a fact. As long as you or I have been around, Vinnie has been broadcasting Dodgers games. His first season at the mic was just after the end of World War II, and if you were born anytime after 1950, then Vinnie has been there with you every season, spinning words into poetry every step of the way.
Think about how much the world has changed since 1950. America was still segregated then. Zip codes, transistor radios, and the McDonald's franchise still didn't exist. It had only been 42 years since the Cubs had last won a World Series.
Think about how much changes in your life every year, every month. Now realize that Vin Scully has been doing his same job for the last 66 years, having never missed a season. And realize that 2016 will be the last time that Vinnie ever announces a baseball game again.
Some of my fondest memories as a child were with Vin. Long after my bedtime, when my parents thought I was sound asleep, I'd be huddling under the covers listening to him call a game. For six months out of every year, Vin would be my personal bedtime storyteller. To this day, I still feel like I have a personal connection with him, having never met the guy before in my life ----- and I doubt I'm unique in this feeling. I don't tell you this to make it seem like I'm special; rather, it's the exact opposite. Ask any Dodgers fan and they will tell you they have the same exact experience. I'm only 19 years old and there have been two-to-three generations before me that have also grown up with Vin Scully; it's simply amazing.
If you're a Dodgers fan, I ask that you tune in this year, at least for one game, and hear Vinnie work his trade one last time. If you aren't a Dodgers fan, I ask that you do the same. Even if you aren't a baseball fan (although I have no idea how you got here reading this), please tune in. If you have a son or daughter, especially if they've never heard a Vin Scully-called game before, please make sure they get that opportunity for the last year that the opportunity is available. If you're on the younger end like me, please make sure to do this so you'll be able to tell your son or daughter one day that you had the opportunity to listen to Vin Scully. It's a shame that Vinnie no longer does national games, and it's equally a shame that the availability of viewing Dodgers games on TV is so limited at the moment.
If you have never heard Vin announce before, there's just something different about the way he does it. When he describes the bewildered smile on the batter's face after the batter just got fooled on a wicked breaking ball, you just feel like you're there at the game with him and 56,000 other fans. When the game is close, Vin makes sure to keep your attention riveted, closely illustrating every moment and important detail that would otherwise impair your understanding of the current situation in the game. When the game is lopsided, he does his best to entertain, tell stories (like the time he raced Jackie Robinson on ice skates), and keep an audience interested that would otherwise be flipping away from the channel like it was a re-run of Family Feud. He is his own play-by-play and color commentary.
In my opinion, the most tragic thing a fan can do in sports is not appreciate greatness. Usually this refers to the greatness of players, but we have here an all-time great in sports broadcasting, and I gave you fair warning to appreciate it. At the end of the day, I'm not the wordsmith that Vin is; I can't tell you, with words, how special his broadcasts are; you'll just have to listen for yourself.
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Austin Yamada is a contributing writer for Beyond The Box Score.