Op-Ed

Vin Scully, pitch perfect for the Dodgers

It's easier to be alone in some ways because you're not doing mental bookkeeping, thinking, what did I ask him the last time? And if you have an idea, if you're alone you can develop the idea. It goes back to Red Barber [his mentor and sports broadcast pioneer]. Red Barber's basic philosophy was, one man, one voice.

The local broadcasts, they've gone network. There's a big difference between doing a local game and doing a network game. A network game, you don't care about paid attendance. You move on, like the circus; you go somewhere else next Saturday. When you're doing a team's game, you're trying to get people to come to the ballpark, and that's where the announcer is able to talk directly to the listener: Gee, you should have been out here, what a play, hope you'll be here tomorrow night. The networks couldn't care less.

You're always smartly dressed. Did you dress like this for radio too?

Always. When I'm going to play golf, I put on a golf shirt. When I'm going to work, I put on a shirt and tie. I'm not going to the baseball game like a fan would go, so it's all part of getting ready to do the game. Part of that I learned from Red Barber.

Does Los Angeles have a different relationship with the Dodgers than other cities have with their teams?

When we were in Brooklyn, it was a tight-knit community, as you imagine. When we came out here, I started to wonder — 480 square miles, where's the heart of the city? It seems to me that Dodger Stadium has brought the city together. Gertrude Stein wrote about Oakland, there's no there there, and actually that's what I felt when I first arrived in Los Angeles. Now it's the ball park.

Should the team move downtown?

This is home. Someday maybe we all have to leave home, but right now, it's the heart and soul of the ball team, and I can't imagine them leaving; but who knows? They should be right where they are now.

How do you approach calling a game, knowing the players?

I spend a lot of time talking about the visitors because [fans] don't really know a lot about them. Let's say the catcher of the Mets comes up to hit. I've already said how old he is, where he lives, and then if I can say he has a dog and the dog was totally deaf, but he didn't get rid of the dog, he taught the dog sign language — to sit, to stay, to fetch — what marvelous patience he must have, and here he's catching the knuckleball pitch. I love that, and I hope the listener will say, "Wow." You have to dig and find the story. During the winter I might pick up a magazine and there's a story about someone, and I'll cut it out, put it in a file of that team, and I've got it just in case.

Do you mind hearing people talk about your potential successor?

I know people talk about it, sure. I don't know whether people think, like Old Man River, I just keep going on. People are forever saying don't retire, and that's nice to hear, but there will be a day, without a doubt. But I'd rather live in the moment and just enjoy it.

You get a cold and L.A. reaches for a Kleenex.

I've been pretty fortunate. I missed Opening Day, I had a cold, but otherwise, God's been good.

patt.morrison@latimes.com

This interview was edited and excerpted from a taped transcript.

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