One of the most anticipated events on New Year’s Day is the annual Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, seen by millions around the world via endless broadcasts. And this year the grand marshal of the parade is one of the most beloved broadcasters in the business, the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers Vin Scully.
It should come as no surprise to Vin’s legions of fans that the selection board of the 125th Rose Parade unanimously picked Scully to reign over the New Year’s flowery festivities themed “Dreams Come True.” He will ride in the parade, and afterwards toss the coin at the start of 100th Rose Bowl Game.
It’s interesting to note that Vin once co-hosted the Tournament of Roses Parade with Bewitched star Elizabeth Montgomery for ABC in 1967. But to be the grand marshal is very special for Scully, who said, “I am deeply humbled and greatly honored to be the grand marshal of the 125th Rose Parade. I look forward to sharing this wonderful moment with my wife Sandi and the millions who will be watching.”
Scully will also be sharing his smooth golden-voice with millions for a record 65th season as the announcer for the Dodgers’ home games in 2014. It’s always a great start to a ballgame when you hear his signature introduction — “It’s a beautiful day at Dodger Stadium, so pull up a chair, sit back and relax, we’ve got a dandy.”
The Bronx-born redhead started as a radio and television sportscaster in 1950 when the team was still in Brooklyn, and made the move to L.A. with the organization in 1958. Although he never took the mound or picked up a bat, for well over half a century baseball fans have called Scully their “favorite Dodger,” along with such legendary players as Jackie Robinson, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Orel Hershiser, Fernando Valenzuela, etc. In 1982 Scully was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, broadcasters’ division, in Cooperstown, N.Y.
A few years ago I got to chat with Vin before he received a lifetime achievement award from the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters. He was feted by various members of the sports world and Hollywood and recognized for the quality he has contributed to the broadcast business. Former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda was there and said, “You can’t find words to describe Vin. Without a doubt he’s the best in the business. He has done a tremendous job for the Dodgers for over sixty years. Vin is number one.”
No one will ever be able to replace him, but for those who aspire to follow in his footsteps, Scully had a few brief words for wannabe sports announcers. “First of all, get your education. You have to go to a university that has an FM radio station that will give you an opportunity to get good at your craft. Read a great deal and gather knowledge so that you’ll be able to reach back when the pressure is on to have facts ready to go when you need them, and then it’s in God’s hands,” he explained.
Fellow Dodger announcer Jaime Jarrin, who calls the Dodgers game in Spanish, described his experience with his good friend Vin thusly, “Listening to Vin Scully calling a game is like watching Michelangelo painting a portrait.” Also at the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters’ luncheon to praise Scully was the Dodgers’ former owner Peter O’Malley. When asked what Vin meant to the ball club O’Malley said, “In one word — everything. The class. The sincerity. The high regard everyone has for him. There’s no one else like him. He is unique and all of his honors are well deserved.”
Along with a Lifetime Achievement Sports Emmy Award, Scully has received the Governor’s Emmy Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. And he was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Ronald Reagan Distinguished American Award.
The Dodgers dedicated the Vin Scully Press Box at Dodger Stadium, and even a baseball field in Bogota, N.J., bares his name, because he lived there while announcing the Brooklyn Dodgers games. Scully credits Hall of Fame announcer Red Barber as his mentor at the start of his career after graduation from Fordham. It was Southern-born Barber who schooled Vin on the folksy phrases and colorful descriptions that have become a hallmark of his broadcasts.
Now on New Year’s Day, Scully will lead the colorful Rose Parade. And it is fitting that the Tournament of Roses president R. Scott Jenkins referred to Scully as being “in a league of his own.”