For 32 years Vin Scully has worn his 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers World Series championship ring on the ring finger of his right hand. It will belong to someone else in two weeks.
Scully, 92, is selling the ring off his finger, as well as three other Dodgers world championship rings, his 1982 Ford Frick Hall of Fame award, personal letters and autographs from six U.S. presidents, and a truckload of personal effects from a broadcasting career that began in 1949 at a Boston University–Maryland football game at Fenway Park (an autographed program is available) and concluded in 2016 with the last of his 67 seasons as the dulcet voice of the Dodgers (his scorebook from that final season is available).
Scully has put up for online auction his vast personal collection, right down to the Dodgers-blue leather loveseat from his home office. In a lengthy interview with me, Scully explained why he is selling the personal effects of his legendary career.
“I’m going to be 93 on my birthday in November,” he says. “And I got to thinking that I would like to do two things before hopefully I am called up to heaven. Number one, I would like to make a small, humble donation to a worthy cause. And secondly, I would like to leave the children with a little extra money coming from the proceeds of the auction.”
Scully is donating a portion of the proceeds to research at UCLA into neuromuscular illness and valley fever. His wife, Sandi, has a neuromuscular condition that Scully says “may or may not be ALS,” or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Scully has five children, 16 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
“I thought, I’m not sure how long I’ll be around,” he says “I thought, wouldn’t it be better to put everything up for auction, whatever the money brings, make a contribution to UCLA, and then give the children the remainder of the money. And that will help with a lot of education in the grandchildren. And why not do it now while I can enjoy their joy, as opposed to doing it from the grave.”
The catalog, presented by Hunt Auctions, runs more than 100 pages and is expected to generate a return in the millions. Bidding opened August 28 and will conclude Sept. 23. The ring from the 1988 championship, representing the last World Series won by the Dodgers, has the highest expected value, at between $100,000 and $300,000.
Asked if yielding any item for auction especially gave him pause, Scully mentioned a 1910 edition of “Theodore Roosevelt the Citizen” that Roosevelt autographed for Scully’s father. “That might be called back from auction,” he says. The auction also includes effects to Scully from presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
“Well, the awards were nice,” Scully says when asked what he would like the new owners to know about his items, “but what I would like them to appreciate more than anything were the letters from presidents … That’s about top drawer.
“The moment I had a sadness was when they were loading a lot of stuff and I saw my golf clubs going up and way. I thought oh my gosh, there was a period of my life I absolutely so loved but it was over. I can’t play golf anymore. When the clubs went up there that was another warning, that ‘Hey kid, you better not spend time doing anything but good.’ And that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Among the items up for bid are a Brooklyn Dodgers silk kimono from the team’s 1956 trip to Japan, a Babe Ruth autograph Scully obtained as a child, his NBC Sports blazer emblem, and the 2014 Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award. In addition to the 1988 World Series championship ring, the catalog includes Scully’s rings from:
1955: “We had a family pet, a mutt named Blackie. I swear Blackie would talk to my mother and she would talk to him. I found out later the pressure was so excruciating, every inning my mother couldn’t stand it, so every inning she put a leash on Blackie and would take a walk around the block. Finally, the ninth inning came and she could not find the dog. He had had enough. That was an off-the-field memory I’ll never forget.”
1963: “The Dodgers not only beat the Yankees in the World Series, they beat them four straight. What a major accomplishment for the borough of Brooklyn and Los Angeles. That’s what sticks to my ribs more than anything else.”
1981: “We went to New York. I was doing football as well. We planned to stay in New York and celebrate. Sure enough, we won the game. We found out the team had flown back. We were at a hotel where George Steinbrenner lived. I asked the bartender, ‘Could I have a cold bottle of champagne for myself and my wife? We want to celebrate the Dodgers’ victory.’ And the fella said, ‘I’ll do it, but it will cost me my job if Mr. Steinbrenner sees you celebrating.’ Of course, he didn’t. We were ever quiet about it.”
Scully says he is enjoying his retirement at home with Sandi.
“I thought I would worry about how I would fill the time, but I will say honestly my wife and I have two expressions: Wow, it’s Friday, and well, it’s five o’clock,” he says. “It only shows you that time flies for one reason or another without making any effort to do it. We’re just enjoying every minute of it.”
Asked whether he misses calling games, Scully says, “Not really, no. I knew in my heart it was time to hang it up. And I must say that’s a logical question but in all honesty, no, I don’t miss it any more. In retrospect I have a head full of memories that I can call upon. But I never felt like, Gee, I wish I had stayed one more year. No. I never felt that way.”
How would Scully explain the best part of broadcasting to his grandchildren? Scully decided it is found in the satisfaction of a job well done.
“The best part, and they’re rare, you would finish the game, you would sign off, you would sit back a little and relax and think, whew, I did a good job,” he says. “Or the other time was painful when you would think, Ah, I wish I would have said this, I wish I had done that. But I think those few moments when you closed it and said, ‘Yeah, that was pretty good,’ I guess that was the best.”
Soon the personal effects of his legendary career will belong to others, including that 1988 ring on his right hand.
“Maybe I’m optimistic,” he says with a sly grin. “Maybe I’m looking for a ring from 2020.”