Including tales of Willie Mays, the history of beards, Madison Bumgarner chopping up a snake and more.
For nearly 67 seasons, legendary announcer Vin Scully has masterfully called games for the Los Angeles Dodgers, including some of the biggest moments in Major League Baseball history.
Scully will likely be best remembered for his iconic calls through decades, like Kirk Gibson’s pinch-hit walk-off home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, Sandy Koufax’s perfect game in 1965 and Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record. But the broadcaster has endeared himself to generations of fans with his ability to seamlessly tell a story while still managing to call every pitch.
Scully, 88, has not missed a beat in his final season behind the mic, already sharing a number of highly memorable anecdotes during Dodgers broadcasts.
We compiled some of Scully’s best stories so far from the 2016 season, his final summer at Chavez Ravine.
The time Madison Bumgarner chopped up a rattlesnake and saved a rabbit
“[Bumgarner] and his wife were roping cattle, which is what they do, and they were startled by a large snake. And Madison thought it was a rattlesnake, so he grabbed an ax and hacked the snake to pieces... When his wife Ali, and an expert field dresser, examined what was left of the snake, she found two baby jackrabbits... and after she extracted them, a short while later, the Bumgarners noticed that one of the rabbits had moved slightly, it was alive. Well his wife brought the rabbit back to their apartment, the next days they kept it warm, bottle nursed it, and the rabbit was soon healthy enough that they released it into the wild.”
Who knew dirt could be so fascinating?
“Back in 1916, the Yankees were playing in the Polo Grounds, and whenever the Washington Senators came to New York to play the Yankees, would you believe, they brought their own dirt... They would bring their own dirt to try their hands. And they claimed the soil around home plate in the Polo Grounds was trick dirt. Have you ever heard of trick dirt?”
The history of beards
“First of all, they say way back to the dawn of humanity, beards evolved because, number one, ladies like them, and number two, it was the idea of frightening off adversaries and wild animals... In fact, it was so serious, if you look it up, there's a divine mandate for beards in Leviticus and Deuteronomy.”
On 1959 and Roy Campanella after his tragic car accident
“There’s something new this year, the twinkling lights of the cell phones. It always brings back the memory of Roy Campanella, the Coliseum, 1959. They used matches then... 93,000 people that night lit matches in Coliseum in tribute to Roy. Pee Wee Reese pushing Campanella out to the mound in a wheel chair, and Campanella point out, ‘93,000, that’s my number backwards.’ ”
A tale about Jackie Robinson and the number 42
“It was in the early ’50s, I was traveling with the ball club and we were in Cincinnati. Now, Jackie Robinson had received a lot of threatening letters, but when we got to Cincinnati, they really took a particular letter very, very seriously... And the Dodgers were having their usual pregame meeting, although on that particular day that meeting was very tense. And it was very serious as you can imagine, talking about what might happen, what disaster might occur to Jackie Robinson... In the middle of thess tense discussions, [Gene] Hermanski said ‘I’ve got it!’ and everything stopped and everybody looked at Gene and he said, ‘let’s all wear number 42...’ And it came to pass, years later, where indeed, like Gene Hermanski said, everybody should wear 42.”
An amazing story about Willie Mays, and the greatest play Vin’s ever seen
“I was also privileged to see Willie make the greatest catch of his career, and he agrees with me that it was. No, not the catch in the World Series against Vic Wertz and Cleveland, I'm talking a Dodger-Giants game at Ebbets Field. Dodgers trailing by a run, bases loaded and two out. We had a young third baseman out of Oklahoma by the name of Bobby Morgan and Morgan hit a line drive out to left center. As soon as the ball left the bat you knew it was an extra base hit. Everybody knew that, except Willie. And Willie, running as hard as he can, left his feet, parallel like an arrow throughout the air, and caught the ball. In those days, certainly at Ebbets Field, we had a gravel warning track. So Willie, going head first, hit that gravel and then bounced head first into the wall. And he was not wearing a helmet. They didn't wear helmets in those days. He hit the wall and rolled over onto his back. The left fielder was a fella named Henry Thompson for the Giants. Henry came over, bent down, there was Willie, unconscious, holding the ball on his chest, and Henry reached down, held it up for the umpires. ‘Out,’ for Bobby Morgan. And that, was the greatest single catch I've ever seen.”
On Friday the 13th superstition
"It's pretty hard to figure out, and in doing a little research about why and how Friday the 13th became such a superstition. You have to go back to an 1869 biography of a musician, where they referred to it as a bad day... in numerology, the No. 12 is considered completeness. You know 12 months of the year, 12 hours on the clock, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 tribes of Israel, the 12 apostles of Jesus, the 12 successors of Mohammed in Shia Islam, the 12 signs of the Zodiac, for that matter as well... The number 13 is considered irregular. You might not know it, I never did, in Spanish speaking countries, instead of Friday, Tuesday the 13th is considered a day of bad luck. Tuesday the 13th. I never knew that.”
On the childhood of Yoenis Cespedes
“When [Yoenis Cespedes] was a kid, he was about 11-years-old, and he was picked by the Superior School for Athletes, a government program for about 800 kids who were very good at various sports. That meant he could only return home for three out of 20 days, and he was there for about six years. They studied in the morning and then they practiced all afternoon. That wasn’t baseball for fun, not in Cuba.”
A recitation of the famous “Field of Dreams” speech
“People will come, Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again. Oh, people will come Ray, people will most definitely come.”
“Socialism failing to work as it always does. This time in Venezuela. You talk about giving everybody something free and all of the sudden there's no food to eat.And who do you think is the richest person in Venezuela? The daughter of Hugo Chávez. Hello.”