Vin Scully was always more than just the voice of Dodgers baseball. He was an icon, a friend, a legend, a mentor, a friendly face who treated all those he met with respect, humility and kindness. He was more than words could properly convey. One only had to meet him, or perhaps just listen to him on game day, to feel the Vin Scully effect.
Scully died at age 94 on Tuesday. The news rocked the Dodgers organization and all of baseball. By Wednesday, teams around the majors, including the Angels in Anaheim, were paying their respects to the beloved broadcaster.
For many, Scully was their introduction to the sport. To others, he was the inspiration for their careers. For some, he was both. And that impact went beyond baseball.
Patrick O’Neal — who’s working in his first season as an Angels play-by-play broadcaster, his ninth season overall with the Angels — grew up listening to Scully call games.
“That’s how I fell in love with the game of baseball and Vin Scully is truly the reason why I wanted to be a broadcaster,” O’Neal said.
O’Neal, who previously worked as a Dodgers reporter and broadcaster for nine years, met Scully for the first time in 2005.
“He touched all of us so much,” O’Neal said. “He impacted everybody’s life here in Southern California. He’s the greatest broadcaster of all time. Not just baseball. He was the most kind person. He would meet you for the first time and never forget your name.”
Matt Vasgersian remembered first meeting Scully as a fan. Now also an Angels broadcaster and MLB Network national broadcaster, Vasgersian won a contest while at USC to call half an inning of a Dodgers game in 1989 over a tape recorder with Al Downing. He met Scully that day.
About 10 years later, Vasgersian recalled getting to call a Brewers-Dodgers game at Dodger Stadium — Vasgersian called games for the Brewers, the first team he worked for in his first season as a major league broadcaster — and hearing Scully call the same plays as him from the booth right next to his.
“It just struck me as so poignant at the time, like I have no business being here,” Vasgersian said. “I’m actually announcing the same event that Vin Scully’s announcing.
“It was never about him,” Vasgersian recalled of Scully’s personality. “He was the best, he knew he was the best. … He never needed to remind anybody of who he was or how great he was.”
Scully’s impact went far beyond the booth. Coaches and players around the league also wanted to know and meet him.
Angels interim manager Phil Nevin started his postgame news conference Tuesday wanting to talk about Scully.
Nevin said one of his fondest memories was hearing Scully said his name on a broadcast three years into his major league career.
“It felt like, ‘Wow,’ ” Nevin said, “ ‘I’m in the big leagues.’ ”
Angels slugger Mike Trout took the time to recognize Scully before the game Wednesday.
“It was an honor to be able to go out there and have an opportunity to play at Dodger Stadium with him announcing me at the plate and, you know, broadcasting the game,” Trout said.
Trout first met Scully during the early years of his major league career. Former Angels manager Mike Scioscia brought him into a media room where Scully was.
Trout couldn’t recall the details of their conversation but said that it was a “pretty special moment for me just because I got to sit down and talk to him and just understand the importance of what he brought to the game. Just the joy he brought.”
Added Trout: “He meant a lot to everybody.”