The Wife sent me up to Gelson’s to pick up a few things. It involved vegetables so she wrote out a list. Previous experience had taught both of us this was a wise course of action. As I got out of my car, I noticed the man parked next to me casually leaning on the trunk of his car. This was not just any man. It was THE man.
Vin Scully. Scully lived a long and busy life. Many of you have your own Vin Scully stories and likely don’t need mine, but I do. So here goes.
I knew Mr. Scully a bit from my day job on the radio. In 2008, the Dodgers had returned to KABC after a 10-year absence. When the radio contract was signed, Vin came down to the studios on La Cienega Boulevard for a meet and greet, photos and a quick interview. As host of the morning show, I was the lucky dog who drew the assignment.
We retreated to a small production studio and sat shoulder to shoulder while an engineer checked the levels. Then, for a brief five minutes, one of the greatest extemporaneous speakers to ever talk into a microphone breezily responded to my questions as if we had been friends for 50 years. And in a way we had. Scully’s soothing, melodic, hypnotic voice had been a constant presence in my life, for my entire life, even before I moved to California. His side-hustle gigs covering golf, football, game shows and network baseball games made him nearly as well-known in New York as Los Angeles. But this was the first time I met him face to face.
With the interview wrapped, we knocked off a bunch of liners, the mundane slogans all radio stations play coming into or out of a commercial break: “Stay up with the Dodgers, wake up with McIntyre in the Morning.” As Scully read liner after liner, I remember thinking, “Vin Scully knows my name!” For a brief moment it made me feel like I had done something right in this life. It also made me feel like a Farmer John breakfast sausage.
Over the next few years I frequently ran into him in his natural habitat, the press box at Dodger Stadium, where, an hour or more before first pitch, you might find him at a table in the media cafeteria licking a soft serve cone with fellow broadcasting giant, Jamie Jarrin, or someone else with the juice to be invited to join him.
I’d always say hello and he’d always give me a smile and a “hello” back and once a quickly accepted, “Pull up a chair.” We chatted about his days at Fordham, the sightlines at Ebbets Field, and his boyhood hero, Mel Ott, who played for the Giants of all teams. That had been the sum total of my personal interactions with Scully until The Wife sent me to Gelson’s for vegetables.
We chatted for a few minutes while Vin waited for Sandy to finish her shopping; a lot of talk about the upcoming Dodgers season from me, how things were going in the radio business from him. Then, one-by-one, others recognized the redhead leaning on the car trunk and a crowd began to gather. I excused myself and went about my shopping as Scully retreated to his car, driving around the block until he spotted Sandy pushing her cart-full of groceries. He did this so gracefully, even those who didn’t get a handshake or selfie were left smiling as he drove off.
Now, he’s gone forever. The most beloved and respected man in the history of Los Angeles. I stand by that statement. Vinny wasn’t a celebrity god on Mt. Olympus like Michael Jackson or Sinatra or Kobe. He was family; the avuncular jacket-and-tie clad gentleman who had a good word to say about everyone, even Leo Durocher. He wasn’t just “old school,” he was his own school, polite and well-mannered to the very end. As America grew angrier and crasser, Scully’s relentless politeness was a nine-inning reminder it doesn’t have to be this way.
Sadly, manners are too frequently interpreted as weakness. For Vincent Edward Scully they were the source of his strength.
Doug McIntyre’s column appears Sunday. He can be reached at: [email protected]