Wednesday, July 17, 2013

1987 Topps: Part I


The summer of 1987 was to be the last opportunity of my childhood to listen to Vin Scully on a regular basis. Naturally, that's because my childhood was coming to an end. But also because (though I didn't know it at the time) my family was to move away from Hermosa Beach just as the next summer was getting started. Listening to Vin has been such a big part of my life that I've often said, and even more often thought, that his loss when it someday comes will hurt me as much as losing a member of my own family. And I know there are millions of people out there who feel the same way.

Fortunately, thanks to modern technology, MLB Extra Innings and Gameday Audio, and Vin's legendary longevity, I again get to hear him regularly even after three decades have passed. Of course, even the lifetime I've spent enjoying his presence in my life only covers half of the story of his sixty-four years calling Dodger games. I get goose bumps every time I tune in and hear "It's time for Dodger baseball!" The sound of Vin's voice brings me back to a very different time in my life.

I hear Vin's voice coming from the clock-radio on my Grandfather's night stand. I've quietly entered his bedroom while he sleeps early in preparation for work at 4:00 am, and I'm lying on the far side of his bed, listening through his snoring, enjoying the Dodger game he fell asleep listening to.

I hear Vin's voice coming from the portable transistor radio we normally keep in the bathroom. I've taken it down the street, where I'm throwing a tennis ball against a brick wall, pretending that I'm pitching, or fielding infield grounders along with the players.

I hear Vin's voice in the headphines of my Walkman. I'm riding my bike on the strand along the beach, either past King Harbor toward Palos Verdes or past Mahnattan Beach up toward Marina Del Rey. Hopefully I haven't been so engrossed in the action that I turned around too late to make it home before the game ends.

Here's how much Vin's presence has become a part of me over the years. When I look at this rather unremarkable Dodgers Leaders card (#431), featuring pitching coach Ron Perranoski leading a conference on the mound, it's the sound of Vin's voice that fills the emptiness inspired by the card's fuzzy lack of purpose. Scully explains that Perranoski is discussing whether to pitch to the left-handed hitting Ken Oberkfell with the tying run on second and two outs, or walk him and go after the righty Rafael Ramirez. Then Vin tells us to be sure to come out to the ballpark Friday night when the Blew Crew returns to Dodger Stadium. It will be a battle of left-handers as Rick Honeycutt will go up against Dave Dravecky in the first of a three-game weekend set with the Padres. Maybe he's also using this break in the action to extol the virtues of Farmer John beef franks. It doesn't really matter what he's saying. The voice of Vin Scully is magic to my ears, and will always be magic to my soul.

1 comment:

  1. Because I grew up in Florida, I never heard Vin on the radio during my youth, only on the NBC Game of the Week. I'll never forget him saying when the first batter dug in, "Just getting started; pull up a chair.''

    Music to my teenage ears.

    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the '87 set, one of my all-time favorites.