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Opinion: Vin Scully voiced baseball's history

Vin Scully voiced a lot of history. He was at the mic when Brooklyn won their only World Series, in 1955, intoning simply, "Ladies and gentlemen, the Brooklyn Dodgers are champions of the world."

He was there in 1956 when Don Larsen of the Yankees pitched the only "perfect game" in a World Series — against the Dodgers. And when Kirk Gibson limped off the Los Angeles Dodger bench to hit a home run in the 1988 World Series.

"In a year that has been so improbable," said Vin, "the impossible has happened."

Vin Scully was the man who had to say something when Bill Buckner of the Boston Red Sox let Mookie Wilson's ground ball squiggle like a baby mouse between his feet in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.

"If one picture is worth a thousand words," he said after Billy Buck slumped off the field, "you have just seen about a million of them."

Vin Scully was wry and reflective in a business that's often booming and raucous. He was worth hearing even when — especially when — nothing happened.

"He could grab a detail, and transform it into a memory," Jason Benetti, the voice of the Chicago White Sox, told us this week.

I remember when Andre Dawson of the Chicago Cubs was on the disabled list with a bruised knee.

"(He) is listed as day-to-day," said Vin Scully. "Aren't we all?"

When Henry Aaron of the Braves struck his 715th home run at home in Atlanta in 1974, to break Babe Ruth's career record, Vin Scully was artfully silent while Aaron circled the bases. Then he captured the occasion utterly.

"What a marvelous moment for the country and the world," he said. "A black man is getting a standing ovation in the deep south for breaking the record of an all-time baseball idol. And it is a great moment for the country and the world..."

Vin Scully was the courtly and eloquent voice of the Dodgers, and baseball, really, for 67 years. But when he died this week at the age of 94, I didn't think so much of the no-hitters and game-winners he narrated, but of what it must have been like for anyone in LA to be stuck in traffic on the I-5 in the late afternoon, wishing they were anywhere else, then fumble through the radio dial, and have the voice of Vin Scully take you away to a game.

"Everyone and everything can be interesting," says Jason Benetti. "That's the most important lesson I learned from Vin."

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Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
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