Zalusky: How Vin Scully brought his trademark eloquence to Chicago baseball moments
The voice of Vin Scully will forever be wedded to Dodger nation.
But the legendary broadcaster, who died Tuesday at age 94, also presided over some significant moments in baseball history involving both Chicago teams.
Scully's career with the Dodgers dated back to its days in Brooklyn, and among the surviving broadcasts from the 1950s is a game against the Cubs from June 4, 1957, the Dodgers' last year in Ebbets Field.
The starter, 21-year-old Sandy Koufax, had already given the Cubs fits in a previous start, striking out 13 in a 3-2 win at Wrigley Field.
This time in Brooklyn he would be less sharp, fanning 12 in a 7-5 win but giving up a 3-run homer to Ernie Banks and a 2-run shot to Bob Speake.
The broadcast is, in many, many ways, a charming period piece -- you hear the singing of the national anthem, the shouts of the ice cream vendor in the stands and the ads for Schaefer beer between innings.
But what is timeless is the distinctive voice that called Dodger baseball for more than six decades, along with the humor, the grace, the eloquence and the baseball knowledge.
Following an intro from announcer Jerry Doggett, Scully humorously enters the proceedings by saying, "And despite the fact that I have just knocked a cup of coffee in my lap in a suit that's just out of the cleaners, it's great to be home."
Scully brings to life even something as inconsequential as catcher Roy Campanella chasing a foul ball to "the lip of the dugout." Scully says a "young G.I. with his gal got that foul ball and proudly presented it to her."
Between pitches, he also praises the Cubs' starting rotation, observing, "Anytime you go into Chicago, come to think of it, especially in the spring or in the fall when you don't get that bright sunshine for too long, you run into (Dick) Drott, (Moe) Drabowsky or (Don) Kaiser, you could be in for quite a sad afternoon."
After a called third strike to one Cubs hitter from umpire Tom Gorman, Scully tells us, "It was a very troubled and bitter Dale Long who left the plate. He took his helmet off and fired it about 25 feet along the box seats. The bat boy had to run down the line to get it."
Sandy Koufax, pitcher of the Los Angeles Dodgers, holds up four baseballs in Los Angeles, Ca. on Sept. 10, 1965. It is the day after he pitched a perfect game for a 1-0 win against the Chicago Cubs, making him the first major leaguer to pitch four no-hit games.
- Associated Press
Koufax's perfect game
The Cubs were the opponent when Koufax pitched a perfect game on Sept. 9, 1965. And Scully's call perfectly captured the drama.
After the first batter in the ninth, Chris Krug, swings at strike two, Scully says, "You can almost taste the pressure now. Koufax lifted his cap, ran his fingers through his black hair, then pulled the cap back down, fussing at the bill."
He says, "Krug must feel it too, as he backs out, heaves a sigh, took off his helmet, put it back on and steps back up to the plate."
When the count reaches 1-2, Scully adds a special touch to the drama, announcing it is 9:41 p.m. He will continue to remind us of the time throughout the inning.
He also speaks for the nervous fans at Dodger Stadium, saying, "There's 29,000 people in the ballpark and a million butterflies."
As ball two is called on Krug and the crowd protests, he says, "A lot of people in the ballpark now are starting to see the pitches with their heart."
Then, after Koufax cements the feat by striking out Krug, Joe Amalfitano and Harvey Kuenn, Scully places a verbal monument on the deed -- "On the scoreboard in right field, it is 9:46 p.m. in the city of the angels, Los Angeles, California, and a crowd of 29,139 just sitting in to see the only pitcher in baseball history to hurl four no-hit, no-run games."
In this file photo made July 6, 1983, California Angels's Fred Lynn, of the American League, belts out a grand slam in the third inning of the All-Star Game at Chicago's Comiskey Park.
- Associated Press
Scully also has a connection to South Side baseball history.
You may remember that, during rain delays of Cubs games, WGN would often air the film of the 1959 World Series, which was directed by former White Sox Manager Lew Fonseca and narrated by Scully.
At the beginning of the film, as crowds are shown climbing a Comiskey Park ramp, Scully sets the scene: "It's World Series time, but what a change of scenery for baseball's greatest drama. Chicago's Comiskey Park, which hasn't had a World Series in 40 years. And then Los Angeles, which never has had a series. It's a great day for White Sox followers, whose wonderful loyalty has become a tradition of the game. They set a new club attendance record this year."
Calling the game for NBC television, Scully would return to Comiskey Park in 1983 to call the 50th edition of the All-Star Game, capped by Fred Lynn's grand slam homer off Atlee Hammaker.
During the pregame, Scully told broadcast partner Joe Garagiola, "You know, Joe, a wise philosopher once wrote that a man should have very old memories and very young hopes. Let's talk about memories. I was a kid growing up in the bleachers in the Polo Grounds in New York, and I cried when Carl Hubbell lost a ballgame."
Wrigley Field is aglow for the first night game at Wrigley Field in August 1988.
- Daily Herald file photo
Nighttime at Wrigley
Scully would be on hand for another historic game on Aug. 9, 1988, when he and the NBC crew televised the first official night game at Wrigley Field.
Once again, Scully furnished a memorable call for a historic occasion. In the final inning, Cubs reliever Goose Gossage induced a pop foul off the bat of the Mets' Lee Mazzilli that sailed toward the seats. Third baseman Vance Law dropped to his knees on the tarp roller, in Scully's words "doing an imitation of Toulouse-Lautrec," and reached up to snag the ball.
Scully was the announcer calling the final major-league game on NBC in 1989, "a sad moment for us, as we sever our relationship with baseball, for a while at least." Once again, the Cubs were involved, losing the final game of the NLCS to the Giants.
This year, baseball returned to NBC for one game, before moving to the company's streaming service, Peacock. A Chicago team was playing, as the White Sox met the Red Sox. And even though he was retired, it was fitting that Vin narrated a promo welcoming the reunion.