Jordan Parham
Professor B. Roth 
Sports Play-by-Play Reporting
26 April 2024
Vin Scully: The Best to Pick up the Mic
Vincent “Vin” Scully is credited as the best play-by-play announcer to ever touch the mic. He was born in The Bronx, New York, New York on November 29, 1927. After listening to his broadcast of the Chicago Cubs at the Los Angeles Dodgers on August 27, 2016, it is no wonder why he holds that title. As Scully announces, he uses his vocals to convey a picture to those listening that accurately depicts the action happening in the park. By only using his voice, without the help of a color analyst or a second announcer in the booth, Scully delivers player/team-related history, the pronunciation and tempo of his words, the descriptiveness of the current play at hand, and his ability to connect previous segments with upcoming ones seamlessly, Scully was able to paint a near-perfect game for those watching at home or listening on the radio.
Within the first three minutes of the broadcast, you begin to hear Scully recite the first and last names of both the home and away teams. The origins of these last names span from countries all around the globe, yet Scully pronounces them as if he were fluent in those languages. For last names spelled differently than their phonetic spelling, Scully would spell them out. For example, when Jorge Soler (pronounced “Solar”) came up to bat for the first time in the first inning, Scully spelled out his name. This was most likely done to clear up any confusion for fans who may have thought his name was spelled the way it is pronounced. Scully also was very descriptive about certain players while reading the lineups (he continued doing this throughout the broadcast). At the beginning of the broadcast, this was subtle—he mainly only listed a few player’s dominant hands—but throughout the game, Scully describes almost everything about that player—from the way the player stands to the dominant hand of the player, to any previous teams they played for (including non-MLB or MiLB teams) and more.
Scully's encyclopedic knowledge of player history is displayed throughout the game. His understanding of players goes beyond what can be found online, encompassing the Los Angeles Dodgers roster and various superstars across the league. For instance, he shares the story of Bryce Harper's ten home runs in a tournament at the age of ten, then compares it to Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs, who hit seven home runs at the age of nine. He also showed how Jorge Soler and his son share the same birthday, how Dexter Fowler has 300 pairs of shoes, and why Jason Hammel eats potato chips and drinks pickle juice to help his cramps. This depth of knowledge, while impressive, also enriches the viewer's understanding of the game and the players, making Scully's broadcasts an authentic educational experience. 
Through creative wordplay, Scully made the audience think more about what he was saying. This forces the audience members to read between the lines of what he is saying and captures the audience's attention more. For instance, instead of saying a player’s 24th birthday is coming up in December, Scully would say the player is 23 years old and won’t be 24 until December. In another instance, when Jorge Soler threw his bat for the second time in the game, Scully described how the bat flew out of his hand and gave a comparing story about how former player Tony Oliva was known for having a loose grip on his bat, too. He also added a funny story about Oliva and how fans would say he needed to chain the bat to his wrist to keep it from flying out of his hand.
Something I want to incorporate more of in my own play-by-play broadcast is being able to create fluent transitions. I noticed how Scully could be telling a story about a person, place, or thing yet still leave himself in a place where he could pick back up, commentating on the action at hand. For instance, when Scully was talking about Hammel eating potato chips as a remedy for his cramps, he could still call the pitches and their outcomes—whether they were a ball, strike, or a base hit of some sort. After the call, he still picked up on the story as if it was nothing. When I was mock play-by-play announcing for the Hokies on April 17, 2024, I found it difficult to switch from telling a story or giving a fact to describing what was going on in the moment at the park. 
During the entirety of the broadcast, Scully did not speak too fast, to the point that you could not understand him, and while switching between giving facts and describing a play—in which he had to speak a bit faster to catch the audience up—you could still make out what he was trying to say. At every and any point in the broadcast, I could understand what he was saying. As someone who was told frequently that they mumbled back in middle and early high school, I know how hard it is to work on quitting this habit.
The credibility Scully earned in his year of broadcasting for the Dodgers while they were in Brooklyn and after they moved to Los Angeles made a world of difference for those who support him. I couldn’t imagine listening to a play-by-play announcer who was not confident about the information he was sharing with the public, not to mention that all the family-friendly, non-invasive, trivial facts he came up with were always different for each game. One common theme I noticed was that Scully always had each player's season and career statistics on hand. If Scully did not have a fact to say about a player, he would always list their batting average and runs batted in—conveniently, they were listed on the screen, too. I can’t imagine the number of hours of research Scully put in each day just to make sure his facts were accurate and exciting at the same time. 
Although Scully was well known in the play-by-play community for having some of the best broadcasts in history, there were a few things that I did not care for in his broadcast. I did not like the lack of inflection in his voice. For the most part, he did make the broadcast enjoyable with his stories and the history of players; however, there were not many changes in his voice’s pitch. One of my favorite announcers, Joe Beninati—a play-by-play announcer for the Washington Capitals—paints a more detailed picture of the plays using various vocal inflections. Another thing that I was not too fond of was that as the end of the broadcast neared, Scully was not listing as many facts as he did at the beginning of the game. I understand that there are only so many facts that you can list before they get repetitive; however, I would have liked to hear player facts throughout the game instead of the majority at the beginning. 
Many agree that Vin Scully was the best ever to touch the mic, and I agree. For someone who grew up around all the New York sports teams, it is no wonder why Scully fell in love with the sports world. How he perfected his broadcast from little things, such as player facts, to big things, such as his ability to switch from storytelling to play calling on a dime, truly shows how badly he wanted to work for the big leagues. Not to mention how many historic moments in baseball he called (including—but not limited to—Sandy Koufax's four no-hitters, Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series, and Hank Aaron's 715th home run). The way Scully was able to paint a picture of the action at hand, tell stories about the players to display current trials they are going through/interesting facts someone might not have known, and enunciate clearly/proficiently is something that I want to recreate in any future play-by-play broadcast I do. Although I did not know who Vin Scully was before watching this video and writing this essay, I understand why so many people missed him after he retired, why they missed him even more when he left this Earth, and why so many people will continue to look up to him in the future. Although Scully is gone, his legacy and influence will begin to touch generations for the rest of time.

Works Cited
“August 27, 2016-Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers.” YouTube, YouTube, 29 Aug. 2016, 
Goldstein, Richard. “Vin Scully, Voice of the Dodgers for 67 Years, Dies at 94.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 3 Aug. 2022, 

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