How Travel almost bankrupted Vin Scully

How Travel almost bankrupted Vin Scully

Baseball legend among legends, Vin Scully, passed away earlier this week at the age of 94. Like millions of other Angelenos and appreciative fans around the world, I am very grateful to have enjoyed his magnificent voice for so many years. And there’s also the travel angle: It nearly bankrupted him early in his career.

Remembering Vin Scully, baseball legend and personal hero

Ask any LA Dodgers fan about Vin Scully and they’ll tell you their story. Everyone has their own story. Mine is not so different from many others. My grandfather, a huge Dodgers fan (as long as they won), introduced me to him from a young age. Before every televised game, we would listen to Vin Scully on his big stereo radio in his den and just listen.

Even from an early age, I recognized his captivating voice and remarkable eloquence.

My grandfather would take me and my brother to Dodgers games and he, like many other fans, would bring the radio and we would eat peanuts and listen to Vin while watching the game. His voice was synonymous with summer and the innocence of youth and the bonds that unite us.

Vin Scully brought together a diverse city. It always struck me when I went to Dodgers games that the fans were as diverse as the city. There was no black and brown and white…just blue: Dodgers fans rallying to support their team. Scully’s vision brought communities together and fostered a fuller union by modeling favors, kindnesses, and subtle but powerful celebrations of progress.

Like when Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1974:

“What a wonderful moment for baseball. What a wonderful moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia. What a wonderful moment for the country and the world. A black man in the deep south gets a standing ovation for breaking the all-time baseball idol record.

As I got older, I grew to appreciate his golden voice and his remarkable ability to make almost anything interesting. My teenage years were marked by an avid following of the Los Angeles Dodgers. I got home from school, turned on the VCR and played my VHS tape of Game 1 of the 1988 World Series over and over again. Scully’s call on Gibson’s game-winning home run in the ninth inning continues to give me goosebumps.

“High fly ball to deep right field. She’s gone!”

And then a pause. A long pause. A perfect break. So we could all pick it up, and even from my living room 25 years after the fact, I could feel the pulse of Dodger Stadium.

And then this:

“In what has been such an incredible year, the impossible has happened.”

Yes indeed.

Something I shared with Vin

Unfortunately, I never got the chance to meet him. I always dreamed of it… but time, like a constant stream, carries all its sons. Scully was born in 1927 and began broadcasting in 1950, still only 22 years old. The infant stage of this blog, which was then published as a podcast, also started at 22 for me, and I sincerely hope to keep it going as long as Scully. Scully was a natural from the start… I look forward to learning from him and others and getting better at my role as a communicator. But he took his chosen calling as a high calling, just like I do every time I publish a story under my name.

Vin Scully and the Travels

Oh yeah, and the travel angle. His father was a traveling salesman. He died when Scully was only four years old. My other grandfather died when my father was seven years old. He also grew up without a father and I am so thankful that my father has seen me grow up and is still with us.

I wonder what would have happened if Scully’s father had lived? What if instead of spending the evening on the radio, Scully spent time with his dad? What if he became a traveling salesman instead of a sportscaster? I’m sure he would have been very successful, but the world might never have heard his voice.

Scully was a man after my own heart, preferring only his work (call games) to the mundane paperwork that sometimes accompanies it. Early in his career, he nearly went broke because he repeatedly failed to fill out expense reports. Reminds me of someone…*cough*.

Vin went out at the top of his game, which few are lucky enough to do. You never want to retire too early, but you also don’t want to stay too long and somehow lose out on the bench (like dear ex-Lakers Chuck Hearn, who is another hero of mine, but probably stayed on board a few seasons too long) .

In his later years, Win stopped traveling with the team, first traveling only to the western states and eventually only to California. He also reduced the number of rounds he did over the radio…the simulations are much more difficult because the dead air on the radio is tighter (not that the dead air was a problem for Vin, but it took a lot more effort).

It’s a reminder that we too will slow down and that we should enjoy the opportunity to travel now.


I am very grateful to Vin Scully and his influence on my life. Indeed, he has impacted millions, uniting Los Angeles and elevating our discourse with his life’s work. In losing Him, we have lost a great treasure.

top image: LA Dodgers

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