If Roger Angell isn’t baseball’s homer but Homer is ancient Greece’s Roger Angell, than Vin Scully isn’t baseball’s Cicero—Cicero was ancient Rome’s Vin Scully. If you’re inclined this way, you’re about to have a piece or three of Scully himself.
The broadcast virtuoso without whose voice baseball in Los Angeles and elsewhere has seemed lacking since his retirement is about to auction as much of his personal memorabilia as can be auctioned, through Hunt Auctions in Exton, Pennsylvania.
“I would much rather treasure the memories,” says the 92-year-old Scully to the Associated Press. “It’s not just a collection of cold, inanimate objects. There are things that mean a great deal to me, but now it’s time to let someone else treasure them.”
Collectors will have a chance to bid on anything from Scully’s 2016 season scorebook, the last he sustained before he retired at last, to a book about Theodore Roosevelt that the 26th American president signed for Scully’s father, who worked in Roosevelt’s law office and who died when Scully was four.
The items also include the scrapbook Scully’s mother kept of 1950s newspaper clips about her son, from just about the moment he first joined the Brooklyn Dodgers’ broadcast team as Red Barber’s find and protege. And, yes, the auction lots will include a generous selection of bats, balls, baseball cards, trophies, and awards. Including numerous plaques honouring Scully as a broadcaster of the year finalist.
“I put them up for humility,” he says, “to remind me, ‘Hey, I was in the race but I didn’t make it’.” That’s from the man who won thirty-three California Sportscaster of the Year awards and four National Sportscaster of the Year awards from the National Sports Media Association.
Scully has several reasons for sending his memorabilia to the auction block. His wife, Sandra, “suffers from a condition related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis,” the AP says. The UCLA will watch the auction closely enough; the Scullys plan to donate a sizeable amount of the proceeds to them for neuromuscular research.
The couple also plans to use a good amount of the proceeds, the AP continues, to help five children, sixteen grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren with expenses that include parochial educations. It’s also one way to avoid a family feud when—many, many years hence, we hope in all sincerity—Scully goes to his reward and the memorabilia might be there otherwise to trigger unexpected battles.
“I didn’t want to cause bad feelings among great kids,” Scully says.
This is the same man whom Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax would remember for going to church just before a World Series and praying. “Not for a win, but there would be only heroes in the World Series, no goats,” Koufax told a Dodger Stadium throng on Vin Scully Day in 2016. “He didn’t want anybody in the future to be tarnished with the fact that they lost the World Series for their team.”
Earlier this year, Scully offered a few videotaped messages to Angelenos and others learning to cope with the impositions of the coronavirus world tour. In April, he suffered a fall at his driveway’s end while retrieving his mail, incurring a concussion, a nose fracture, and a rib fracture. “It was a learning experience,” he tells the AP. “I hold on to my walker.”
Age can compromise Scully’s body and way of life (“I heard a door close in my life,” he said as he saw two sets of the golf clubs he can no longer swing loaded aboard a truck) but not his spirit. This warm, loving man, who once had to overcome the accidental death of his 35-year-old first wife and the death of a 33-year-old son in a helicopter crash over two decades later, allows no despair in his world.
“Were you among the crowd that groaned at one of my puns?” Scully said, in his final videotaped message to his listeners on 2 October 2016—eighty years to the day after he walked home from school in New York City, saw a World Series game score posted in the window of a Chinese laundry, pitied the Giants, and fell in love with baseball itself.
Or, did you kindly laugh at one of my little jokes? Did I put you to sleep with a transistor radio tucked under your pillow? You know, you were simply always there for me. I’ve always felt that I needed you more than you needed me, and that holds true to this very day. I’ve been privileged to share in your passion and love for this great game . . . You folks have truly been the wind beneath my wings, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for joining me on this incredible journey of sixty-seven years of broadcasting Dodger baseball.
You can have such pieces of that journey as you might wish or can afford now; Internet bidding begins on Friday.
But it won’t be quite the same as having Scully himself on the air, amplifying a baseball game without detracting from it, ordering a camera to train upon a small child in his or her parents’ arms at the park, or spontaneously delivering exactly the right description of a play, a pitch, a hit that goes beyond the powers of even the most blessed of poets.
Such are the periodic reminders that knowing Vin Scully isn’t in the booth, at the mike, calling a game, telling the stories within the stories around the stories behind the stories, is just like knowing Yogi Berra no longer lives among us on this island earth. America sometimes just isn’t America anymore.