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Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles Dodgers’

I have very few heroes anymore.  For example:

*As a kid, I looked up to a certain baseball player … later found out he had an affair with a famous actress while he was playing … and that after he retired, he became a drug addict.

*I looked up to a well-known pastor for many years for his authenticity, biblical insight, and writing skills.  When I had a chance to meet him, I jumped at the chance.  Several years ago, I found out he had an affair, that his wife divorced him, and that the news never hit the wider Christian public.

*I remember when a singer whose music I enjoyed was arrested for drunk driving.  Later in his autobiography, this man … who wrote and sang tender love songs … confessed that he once took a chainsaw to his wife’s bed during an argument.

I could talk for hours about people I once put on a pedestal who embarrassed themselves or disappointed their followers by violating common decency or their own moral standards.

Let’s say that over the years, I’ve had 100 different heroes.  At this point in my life, it’s probably down to less than ten (Nolan Ryan and Sandy Koufax from baseball; Archibald Hart, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and John Stott from the Christian community).

I don’t expect perfection from someone I admire, but I do want them to exemplify virtues like authenticity, modesty, and wisdom.

And next week, one of my few remaining heroes will retire after 67 years of doing the same thing.

His name?

Vin Scully … voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers … and generally considered to be the greatest sports announcer of all time.

My first memory of hearing Vin Scully on the radio was as a six-year-old boy in Anaheim, California.  Our family had an old black radio in the kitchen, and Scully was announcing the Phillies-Dodgers 1960 home opener.  (Frank Sullivan was the starting pitcher for the Phillies.  Don’t ask me how I know that.)

The following month, my dad took me to the Los Angeles Coliseum where the Dodgers played their first four years.  I remember how green the grass was … how vast the outfield was … and that Vin Scully’s voice seemed to be everywhere because the LA crowd brought their transistor radios (they were fairly new at the time) to the game.

Vin Scully was a big part of my childhood.  The Dodgers only televised nine games a year (all from San Francisco), so to follow the team, you had to listen to the radio.  I often fell asleep listening to Scully talk baseball on 50,000 watt KFI, AM 640.

Scully broadcast the first three innings … Jerry Doggett took the next three … and Scully then handled the final three.  Unlike most announcers, he didn’t interact with his partner … he wanted to call the action himself.

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I heard Scully broadcast portions of all four of Sandy Koufax’ no-hitters.  When Koufax threw his last one on a Thursday night in September 1965 against the Chicago Cubs, my brother John and I listened to the whole game on the radio, even though we were supposed to be asleep.  When Koufax struck out Harvey Kuenn for the final out, he cried out, “A perfect game!”  My brother and I jumped for joy in the darkness.

Scully’s call of the final inning of that game is a classic.  It’s here on YouTube if you’ve never heard it:

I listened to Vin Scully call Dodger games for 22 years until my family moved to Silicon Valley in 1981.  Sometimes we could pick up Dodger broadcasts from Santa Clara, but it became difficult to follow the Dodgers 400 miles away, and when our son Ryan started following baseball, it was natural for us to follow the Dodgers’ arch rivals, the San Francisco Giants, because we could attend their games and watch them on television.

On my day off, I used to drive up to San Francisco and visit the hotels of the teams that were playing the Giants, and the Dodgers always stayed at the Hilton.  There was a long hallway from the lobby to the elevators, and everybody on the team had to walk by the few of us who were waiting for signatures.  On one occasion, Vin Scully signed this portrait by Nick Volpe for me:

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This Sunday, Scully will be doing his final home broadcast for the Dodgers, and the team has devoted the entire weekend to honoring him.

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On Sunday, October 2, Vin Scully will broadcast his last game from San Francisco, and both the Dodgers and Giants will carry his broadcast in the third inning … an unparalleled tribute.

While watching the Giant-Dodger games from Dodger Stadium this past week, I listened to Scully all three nights, and even at his advanced age, he is head and shoulders above any announcer I’ve ever heard … and I’ve heard some great ones.

Why is Scully so good?

First, he is a master teacher.  If you don’t know much about baseball, he’ll inform you.  If you don’t know much about the players, he’ll enlighten you.  (He does a brief biography of every player who comes to bat from the visiting team.)  If you don’t know much about baseball rules, he will explain them.  While his trade is baseball, he always puts the game in perspective.  I’ve learned a lot about life by listening to him as well.

Second, he is an incredible storyteller.  Scully has not only read deeply about baseball history, he’s been a fan himself since the 1930s, and has either seen or known most of the greats personally.  I love to hear and tell stories myself, and Scully has been an influence on my love for baseball and anecdotes since my childhood days.

Third, he is always fair.  When the Dodgers aren’t playing well, he’ll say so.  When the opposing team is messing up, he’ll point it out without berating them.  The Giants have been having a terrible problem over the past few weeks with their relief pitching, and when they blew another game in the ninth inning to the Dodgers several nights ago, Scully expressed genuine empathy for Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy.

Fourth, he isn’t afraid to mention God.  Most sports announcers avoid the “G” word, but Scully talks about God and “the good Lord” all the time.  He’s a practicing Roman Catholic, but his acknowledgement of the reality of God is refreshing in our politically correct world.  You’ve heard the phrase, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans?”  The first time I heard that was from the lips of Vin Scully.

Finally, he is a humble and modest man.  Scully knows how much he means to Dodger fans … and even Southern California … but it’s never gone to his head.  He made the Baseball Hall of Fame as a broadcaster in the early 1980s, but he seems to be the same person in every venue.  The few times I’ve asked him for his signature, he’s always complied.

Eight years ago, my wife and I visited the famed Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard, and whose star did we run across?  That’s right …

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I didn’t want my picture taken with most of the stars … but this one, I did.

Scully is so good that I love listening to him even while I’m rooting against the Dodgers.

Here is Scully’s final letter to his beloved fans.  It’s the classiest letter I’ve ever read … just like the man.

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Along with the Los Angeles area … all of Southern California … all of baseball … and much of the country … I want to echo the sentiments of this Facebook page logo:

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The Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks last night to clinch the National League Western Division championship.

I grew up a Dodger fan but switched loyalties when my son was old enough to follow baseball.  We lived in an area where we could watch the Giants play.

As a Giants’ fan, I have some strong opinions about the Dodgers.  I especially have strong feelings about Dodger players celebrating in the pool beyond the right field fence in Phoenix last night.

But I choose to keep those feelings to myself.

I almost posted them on Facebook today, but decided to congratulate the Blue Crew instead.  I almost commented on a Yahoo story written about the pool incident, but chose to pull back.

Several times during the course of a week, somebody makes a comment on Facebook, or expresses strong feelings in an online article, and I want to share my two cents worth.

On occasion, I do just that, especially if I have the opportunity to speak out for biblical morality or against Christian persecution.

But you have no idea how many times I write a comment but then choose not to publish it … or how many times I want to write something but tell myself:

“Stay out of it!”

While Jesus was speaking to a crowd one time, a man called out, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me” (Luke 12:13).

Jesus did not follow up with a question.  He did not ask the man to come forward.  In fact, we don’t know how Jesus felt about the issue because He replied:

“Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?”

In essence, Jesus was saying, “You can’t pull me into your conflict.  I’m staying out of this one.”

Jesus was much wiser than we are sometimes.

Imagine that a friend of yours calls tonight and says that their marriage is on the rocks.  After listening to their pain, you ask a few questions for clarification.

Should you automatically take the side of your friend?  What if you know their spouse?

You weren’t asked to be a marriage counselor or a divorce attorney.  Your friend is asking for your support and probably your prayers.

But if they try and pull you over to their side, do your best to resist … at least until you’ve heard the other side and know the larger picture.

In the same way, I’m saddened by all the conflict in churches today … especially when Christians – who should know better – quickly side with their friends against their pastor.

What if their friends are wrong?

What if their friends obtained information secondhand?

What if their friends are exaggerating the issues?

What if their friends are part of a faction that is trying to take over the church?

What if their friends don’t really know what’s going on?

When you don’t know all the facts … even if your friends try and convince you to take their side … I encourage you to follow Jesus’ example and say:

“I’m going to stay out of it!”

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This is the 299th article I’ve written on my blog.  I’m also less than 500 views away from reaching 50,000 total.

If you’re a regular reader, thank you!  If you’re just visiting, I invite you to return.

If you have any ideas for my 300th article, please share them in the comments section.  Thanks!

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