While Vin Scully was telecasting this year's World Series in Boston, he couldn't help thinking back to another brisk autumn night 37 years ago - a night when he stood on the roof of that same Fenway Park and called a football game between Boston University and Maryland. ``That was the beginning of my professional career,'' recalled the veteran announcer of so many big events.
A year later, Scully was hired as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers broadcast team. His mentor, sportscaster Red Barber, was the one who recommended Scully for both jobs.
It was also Barber's rejection of a $200-a-game offer to provide television play-by-play for Dodger games that launched Scully's TV announcing career.
``They came to me with the offer and that put me in a bad spot because I didn't want to undermine a man [Barber] who meant so much to me,'' said Scully. Barber told Scully someone would be hired anyway, so with Barber's blessing, Scully accepted the job.
Barber also gave Scully professional pointers. ``He told me to always be myself.'' Barber cautioned Scully never to be a rooter on the air, and he advised Scully not to form personal friendships with players. ``He told me not to get emotionally involved, not to have a good friend out there on the field; it might affect your judgment.''
Scully, who had been a good enough player to make the varsity at Fordham University, quickly demonstrated both an understanding of the game and the ability to communicate this knowledge to his listeners.
The Dodger broadcasts made Vin a household name, first in his native New York and later in Los Angeles. And of course his association with network radio and television has spread his distinctive voice, a blend of nasal twang and mellifluous baritone, to sports fans across the country, and on occasion around the world. While Scully's assignments include golf and football, his admirers know him as ``Mr. Baseball.''
Scully and his wife, Sandi, have six children and live in Pacific Palisades, Calif. And despite his prominence in his profession, Vin says he has no problem with the ego. ``I still put the garbage out every night, so that keeps things in their proper perspective.'' He describes himself as a family man whose interests include golf, swimming, and reading, but he never goes to baseball games in his spare time.
Listeners marvel at the way Scully consistently comes up with the right word or description for a unique play. He'll describe the dirty jersey of an injured player who's just dived across home plate as a ``red badge of courage,'' or note that a second baseman taken out by a baserunner ``went down like a folding chair.''
But Scully says he often feels inadequate when it comes to describing a situation. If the fans are enthusiastically cheering or jeering a play, or have been silenced by the action, Scully is happy to seal his lips and let the sound tell the story. When Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run, Scully didn't say a word on the air for two minutes.
He says he's always been infatuated with the sound of the crowd. While other kids talked about being doctors, lawyers, or professional athletes, Scully dreamed of being a sports announcer.
He played baseball throughout high school and college. His hero was New York Giants right fielder Mel Ott. ``I batted left-handed like Mel and tried to copy his timing mechanism of lifting his right leg high in the air before swinging the bat,'' he says. ``The results were not the same.''
Scully says he has no regrets about his broadcasting career. ``It's a big price to pay to be on the road so much of the year, but when you think about why you're there, it's another story.'' He plans to continue broadcasting for at least five more years. ``After that, we'll see.'' Quotable quotes
Guard Bill Fralic of football's Atlanta Falcons on the thanklessness of his job: ``If you play offensive lineman, you better feel good about yourself, because nobody is going to tell you you're good.''
K. C. Jones, coach of the Boston Celtics, on what center Jack Sikma's arrival in a trade means to the Milwaukee Bucks: ``He's their MasterCard player - he now gives them all the possibilities.''