Calls of a Lifetime

The one and only Vin Scully

You know what I miss about modern baseball? No, it isn’t the great pitching, there’s a lot of that around. It isn’t the wonderful fielding, take a look at “Web Gems”. It isn’t the hitting, these guys can hit. What I miss is the men who used to call the games.

I miss Mel Allen. I miss Red Barber. I miss Russ Hodges. They were the main men in New York baseball when I was very young. They knew how to describe a game in vivid words that painted pictures of the game, of the field, of the players, and of the fans. Allen had sheer joy, Barber colorful use of words, Hodges wore his emotions on his sleeve. In fact, Hodges gave us all one of the single greatest calls of a lifetime with his 1951 “The Giants Win the Pennant” repeated a thousand times. Go to You Tube or somewhere and just listen to the joy and astonishment in his voice. Don’t look at the picture, just listen to the voice. You know what happened if you just listen.

Of course there were others. Dizzy Dean was a world to himself. Half the time I didn’t understand him (and neither did anyone else except for maybe Mrs. Dean) but who cared; he was wonderful. Jack Buck was understated and almost emotionless sometimes, and that was a wonderful tonic to the “rah, rah” types that drove me crazy. And nobody ever knew how to simply shut up and let the crowd do the talking than Buck.  Joe Garagiola knew more about baseball than most people could learn in a 1000 years. Both were out of St. Louis (And isn’t it amazing how many great play-by-play guys have come out of St. Louis?) so I got to hear them a lot. Ernie Harwell could describe a play better than anyone I ever heard. Bob Prince was a little too much for me, but his love for his Pirates was so obvious you let it slide sometimes. And Curt Gowdy could announce anything and have you impressed.

There aren’t a lot of them left. You still hear Jay Randolph on an occasional Cardinals broadcast (see what I mean about St. Louis) and there is not, nor has there ever been, anyone quite like Vin Scully. Take time someday and just listen to the man. Even his non-baseball talks are a treat to the ears.

Now it’s not that the new guys are bad, they just aren’t quite as good. Too many of them simply call a game and don’t describe it. I guess that’s television and the idea that you can see for yourself what’s going on. But you know what? I miss the old guys who knew you had to describe a game as well as call it.

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3 Responses to “Calls of a Lifetime”

  1. Bill Miller Says:

    I think what characterized these gentlemen is their essential modesty and humility. It was never about them; it was always about the game. And because of this shared character trait, their stature grew over time.
    Nice post, as usual, Bill

  2. keithosaunders Says:

    I hated Jack Buck when he was announcing the Games of the Week — I forget whether it was FOX or CBS in those days — but I would soon be pining for his stately monotone when the horror that is Joe Buck and Tim McCarver befell us.

    How about Harry Carey? It was sort of like listening to a game announced by your fun-loving, alcoholic uncle.

    As far as the present day announcers go, I like Howie Rose. There is something maniacal about him that is endearing to me. He’s a life-long fan, and you can tell he’s like a kid in the candy store. I even got used to, and now enjoy, his game ending call. “Put it in the books!” In the beginning he had the most corny home run call ever. Worse even, than that hack, Sterling. He used to say, “That’s a goner!” I hater that! Another good thing about Howie is that at any given time he is likely to unleash a Honnymooners reference. That’s aces in my book.

  3. pioneersinsport Says:

    When I was young….real young, I remember Russ Hodges broadcasting for the SF Giants along with Lon Simmons, they were the first announcers I ever heard. I used to like Monte Moore who broadcast the A’s when they got out here to Oakland. Yeah, I know he was a BIG “homer” but he was my homer, LOL. Today Vin Scully is the best out there. Think about it, Vin doesn’t have anyone else in the booth with him…….and he doesn’t need anyone, he’s his own color man.

    Doug

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