Vin Scully is simply the finest announcer in the history of the universe.
(Page 2 of 2)
Unfortunately, Smith gives us a wealth of good information in a pedestrian writing style, clipped and choppy and occasionally incoherent. He sometimes changes subject in the middle of a paragraph. There are quotes where it’s hard to tell who is being quoted. Smith often uses a quirky kind of shorthand, full of words followed by colons, so that the book sometimes has the feel of a Power Point presentation rather than a coherent, flowing narrative. The reader has to work harder than he should have to in order to get the sense of Smith’s presentation. Just the opposite of listening to Scully.
Another weakness of the book is that it doesn’t include much directly from Scully himself. Smith states in his introduction that he talked to Scully for previous books. But there’s little evidence in Chair that Smith spent much or any time with Scully on this project. As a result the book is thin on Scully’s thoughts on or feelings about the history Smith relates.
But the book has its strengths, including quotes from players, sports writers, and other announcers about Scully and his manifold skills and virtues. There are also a few direct transcriptions of Scully’s calls, including two of his best: the final inning of Sandy Koufax’s perfect game at Dodger Stadium in 1965, and Kirk Gibson’s dramatic, pinch-hit, walk-off home run to win the first game of the 1988 World Series.
Here’s what Salon.com’s Gary Kaufman said after reading a transcript of Scully’ call of Koufax’s perfect ninth:
It read like a short story. It had tension, rising and falling drama, great turns of phrase. It was, and still is, the best piece of baseball writing I’ve even seen. And it came off the top of his head, at a moment, when, like the man whose feat he was describing, he knew he had to be at the top of his game. I’ve since heard a tape of that half-inning. There’s not a single misstep.
There have been very few missteps in the almost 60-year career (don’t adjust your computer — that’s correct — almost 60 years) of Vincent Edward Scully. That’s probably why when fans or writers have been polled over the years on who their favorite Dodger is, the answer come up not Koufax, or Snider, or Wills, or Drysdale, or (heaven forefend) Ramirez. The answer almost always is Scully. That’s the kind of bond Scully has created with his millions of listeners over more than half a century. (And the gentlemanly Scully, it’s universally reported, is always polite and accommodating to his many fans who approach him in public for autographs, to be photographed with him, or to just share a moment with him.)
For those not familiar with Scully’s work, who might wonder if anyone could possibly be as good as everyone says Scully is, I invite you to visit You Tube and listen to the Red Head in action. Googling Vin Scully turns up other audio, including the call of Koufax’s perfect ninth. You listen. You decide.
Keep on talking, Red Head. It will be a long time before we’re ready to quit listening.
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