By Steven Herbert, City News Service
Los Angeles Dodgers announcer Vin Scully will return to the broadcast booth for Sunday’s game against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium after missing five games because of what the team described as a bad cold, the team announced.
When the 84-year-old Scully missed Tuesday’s home opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates it marked the first time he had missed a home opener since 1977, when he was preparing for the CBS telecast of the Masters golf tournament. He then missed each of the next four games, including tonight’s game against the Padres.
Charley Steiner, the Dodgers’ usual radio play-by-play announcer who has filled in for Scully on the Prime Ticket telecasts, said he is “thrilled and relieved” about Scully’s upcoming return.
“Pinch-hitting for Babe Ruth every day is not one of the easier assignments of my life,” Steiner told City News Service. “I am so happy most importantly that Vin is feeling better and secondarily that he is back.”
Steiner called replacing Scully even on a short-term basis “a daunting task.”
“L.A. is a city of stars — whether it’s Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, et cetera, et cetera — but Vin’s the biggest star in town and I would be happy to be debate anybody on who’s second,” Steiner said.
“Anybody who’s over the age of 10 in this town knows who he is and somebody who’s as old as 90 knows who he is. He’s been a constant in this town since 1958. Who else has been in any line of work?”
Scully has been a Dodger announcer since 1950, when the team was located in Brooklyn. His 63 years of service constitute the longest tenure of any broadcaster in sports history.
Scully has been selected as the greatest sportscaster by the American Sportscasters Association. A ranking system devised by author Curt Smith for his 2005 book “Voices of the Game” determined that Scully was baseball’s greatest announcer, giving him a perfect score of 100, based on such factors as longevity, language, popularity and persona.
His many honors include the Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually by the Baseball Hall of Fame to a broadcaster for “major contributions to baseball.”
Either on the team or NBC broadcasts, Scully has called such memorable moments by the Dodgers (or their opponents) as Kirk Gibson’s pinch-hit home run
in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, Sandy Koufax’s perfect game in 1965, New York Yankee pitcher Don Larsen’s perfect game against the Dodgers in the 1956 World Series and Hank Aaron’s record- setting 715th home run.
“He is the Babe Ruth of our industry. Period. End of story,” Steiner said. “He is to sportscasting what The Beatles were to music. You could argue who is the second greatest group of all-time, you can argue who’s the second greatest baseball broadcaster of all time, but case closed on The Beatles and Vin.”