Two weeks ago, the Los Angeles Dodgers announced Vin Scully would be returning to the broadcast booth in 2014 for what would be an amazing 65th season. But Scully’s greatest accomplishment is not his longevity, but his sheer talent. He is probably the last representative of the golden age of broadcasting.
Now, we’re in the midst of the golden age for broadcasters. Because of the proliferation of television networks, there are ample jobs for play-by-play announcers, color commentators and studio talking heads. As those numbers increase, the talent dilutes — and you have only to turn on a college football game not shown on a major network to see and hear that.
They don’t make ’em like Scully anymore — and Scully probably couldn’t get hired in 2013. His style is beyond retro. He called his first World Series game at age 25 — in Brooklyn — and he was behind the microphone when the Dodgers won their only world title there.
Scully has called three perfect games, 25 no-hitters, 25 World Series and 12 all-star games, but that’s the easy stuff, the games that provide plenty of story lines and chatter. It’s the daily grind of baseball that makes broadcasting hard — the bad seasons, the rain delays, the relentless travel.
That’s where Scully excels. He consistently makes his job look effortless. He loves the Dodgers but he’s not a homer who searches for the positive in every bad play they make. He is a pleasure to listen to; he’d be just as enjoyable to hear if he were reading the farm report every morning.
Scully is probably the last of what was a golden age of broadcasters. Ernie Harwell, Jack Buck, Harry Kalas, Red Barber, Russ Hodges, Harry Caray — all came from a time when announcers were free to talk — or not talk — and they became friends with the fans via the airwaves. None of them is with us anymore.
Jon Miller could have held his own in that group; his style was all his own, yet reminiscent of the good old days. We were lucky in this area to have enjoyed Miller before his honesty about the Orioles cost him his job. He went home to San Francisco and the Giants, but O’s fans still miss him.
As a Royals fan, I always liked Denny Matthews, who has been with the team since Day 1 in 1969. (Similarly, Ralph Kiner has been with the Mets since the team’s inception.) Neither is young, and they have cut back on their work schedules in recent years.
Scully is not young, either — he’ll be 86 on opening day 2014, God willing, and he’s cut back as well. He’ll “only” do all the home games and road games in California and Arizona. What a slacker! But we’re lucky to have him.
For more by Tracee Hamilton, visit washingtonpost.com/hamilton.