I have to admit, it was an emotional baseball season. First, the Cubs finally won the World Series after a barn burner of a 7 game series against the Cleveland Indians. Not only that, the Cubs were on the brink of another cursed year only to win it all in the 10th inning of game 7, complete with the Tribe clawing back from a certain loss to tie it up in the 8th. Add a rain delay and you had one for the ages. That said, I’m really a Dodgers fan so I’m glad we can just put this whole Cubs Curse thing behind us and move on with life again.
But closer to home, after 30 plus years of growing up listening to Los Angeles Dodgers games unfold through the stories and anecdotes as told by one of the world’s greatest storytellers, Vin Scully, it all came to an end at the conclusion of the regular season about a month back. Sure, the Dodgers season was a good one, losing to the eventual champs in Chicago, but more than that, Dodger fans and baseball fans in general are left to move on without their trusted guide in Vin. Okay, so this sounds a little dramatic. Life will go on; but I spent some time thinking about the actual impact Vin has had on my life, and millions of others lives as well. What I can take away are 5 life lessons that I want to share with you that you can apply to your personal life, in your family, in your career, or just every day. To put Vin Scully’s broadcasting career into perspective here are some of the numbers (stats from the Los Angeles Daily News).
- Started with the Dodgers in 1950
- 67 seasons calling the Dodgers games
- 24,274 Days with the Dodgers
- Worked under 9 different owners
- Called 13 Dodgers World Series (only 1 since 1988), including all 6 Championships
- Called 21 No-Hitters, including Don Larsen’s perfect game
- Has been calling games 34 years AFTER being inducted into the hall of fame
- Was there for Jackie Robinson’s career, called 21 no-hitters, and Hank Aaron’s record breaking home run
- The city of Los Angeles named a street after him
But like Vin’s style calling games, it’s not about the numbers, it’s about the story behind the numbers and what we can learn from him. And learn a lot we certainly did. Here are the 5 lessons we learned from Vin Scully.
Always Prepare – Known to be at the stadium more than 4 hours before game time, Vin’s excellence is a product of his preparation. Much like the late great Coach John Wooden (who happened to live in the same Westwood apartment buidling as the Scully’s in the late 50’s), preparation leades to excellence. For Vin, it was in the form of knowing stats, interview players, and being a good listener – all traits we can model every day. But more than that, it was the years of preparation that led to Vin knowing the right questions to ask, the way to build report with players, and how to deliver his knowledge that made him the best sports broadcaster that ever lived.
Be Humble – Vin always made the game about the players. We learned so much about each player through Vin, but the story was never really about him. From the voice in the background, like the narrator to a great story, Vin put us on the field and in the dugout with the legends of the game. Even at the very end, with the eyes and ears of baseball fans cast upon him, he wanted to get back to calling the game he loves so dearly. As he put it, “there are more deserving people, why me indeed?”
Serve Others – Vin looked back on his career and as he announced to the crowd at his final Dodger home game, he felt he needed the Dodger fans more than we needed him. We can all argue that it is impossible, considering how many people he touched in 67 years of Broadcasting, that he received more back from the fans than he gave. But as in the Prayer of St. Francis, it is in giving that we shall receive. Vin dedicated himself to serving others through his talents so that we may enjoy one of the great past times – baseball.
Be Loyal – 67 years with the same team – need I say more? He worked under 9 different owners, moved from the East Coast to the West Coast, and saw the game change radically in all those years. But Vin was the mainstay. The players came and went, through the championships and the down years, and he was always there. Loyal to the end. And after all, he was a Giant’s fan deep down inside, but he was loyal to his duty to the Dodgers to the last pitch.
Enjoy Life – And just like it all began, out of a love of the game of baseball, Vin’s love of his family and desire to enjoy the rest of life is what led him to retire. We’ve all heard do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. That is great to believe in, but hard to do. Vin passed on his enjoyment of the game, so that we may enjoy life a little more.
When I think of Vin Scully, I hear his voice, on a warm Sunday afternoon at the beach in August, the Dodger game on the radio. Vin has been called the “Soundtrack of Summer in Los Angeles,” a “wordsmith” and a great storyteller. But more than anything, Vin Scully was like a grandfather to all of us who were fortunate to grow up listening to his soothing voice over the LA airwaves. Thank you, Vin!
I’ll leave you with one final quote from Vin, “As long as you live, keep smiling, because it brightens everyone’s day.”