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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, April 20, 2024

Under the Lights

Only a select few are labeled “the voice of a generation.” It’s downright silly to be dubbed the voice of three.

And yet, that is the title that Vin Scully, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ play-by-play man on television and radio for the last 67 — yes, 67 — years, has earned over his unimaginably decorated career that comes to a conclusion this week.

Scully has had such an impact over such a vast number of people over nearly seven decades that I would be remiss to not dedicate at least this much space, in this medium, to him.

I don't know where to start. Scully witnessed and narrated Jackie Robinson rounding third at the legendary Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, a Sandy Koufax slider off the mound at the Coliseum and a limping Kirk Gibson’s 1988 World Series walk-off home run.

The 88-year-old’s unprecedented run stretched the majority of this century. It has transcended the administrations of twelve separate United States Presidents, the passing of the Civil Rights Act, Title IX and the invention of the modern computer.

The latter is perhaps the most impressive; Scully’s timeless voice found a way to stay relevant in an age where his slow, methodical style runs paradoxical to modern sports culture, which in recent years has relied more and more on instantaneous highlights and quick, snappy roundups. Scully was the antithesis to this revolution. He’d tell stories that would span not just across at bats but through entire innings, sprinkling in facts and tidbits about the game and players he was watching along the way.

The announcer’s greatness refused to be constricted by time, which is perhaps why if you ask anyone in Los Angeles who the face of their city is, the conversation almost always turns to Scully at one point or another. It’s hard to articulate how big of a presence Scully has had on the nation’s second-biggest market. Put it this way, though: if you grew up in Los Angeles and are below the age of sixty, chances are there were only three people in your life who you heard talk more than Scully throughout your childhood: your parents and your teacher in elementary or middle school.

Scully’s voice is that of millions of childhoods and countless young summers spent falling asleep in front of the television or radio to the tune of his sweet, melodic vocal chords. Unlike most of youth, though, that voice wasn’t fleeting; it remained, for decade after decade after decade, a constant reminder of the stability and consistency Americans, and particularly Los Angeles residents, so desperately sought throughout Scully’s tenure in the broadcast booth. His voice defined large chunks of the lives of those born in the last century.

Scully says goodbye this week to a game and a world that hardly resemble what they looked and sounded like when he sat behind the microphone for his first game back in 1950. The game, the fans, and the players have changed definitively. Somehow, beyond all reason and comprehension and logic, Vin Scully has not.