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Vin Scully overwhelmed by street dedication

LOS ANGELES — A street leading to Dodger Stadium was dedicated April 11 as Vin Scully Avenue, prompting the longtime Dodger broadcaster to say he was “overwhelmed” by the honor he once declined.

Scully began his nearly 6 1/2-minute acceptance speech like he would a broadcast, saying “Hi everybody and a very pleasant good afternoon to you,” drawing cheers from the crowd of fans estimated by a team official as “a few hundred,” just inside Dodger Stadium’s main entrance.

“I had to get that out because in all honesty, if you asked me this very minute how do you feel about what’s going on, I would have to say overwhelmed,” Scully said. “I really am.”

Scully later said he was overwhelmed by the kindness and excitement of fans.

“Just to hear you, your enthusiasm, the voice that comes roaring out of the stands, there’s nothing like it,” the 88-year-old Scully said.

Following his opening remarks, Scully recounted his youth in Manhattan during the Great Depression, playing stickball on the streets, and said, “I have to thank almighty God, first of all, to be this old and to continue to do something that I loved all my life.”

Scully then praised his wife Sandy, discussing “the lonely days and nights that a wife has while her husband is working in the ballpark or for that matter, spending over 100 days on the road away from her.”

“If you are fortunate enough to have a wife without complaint you have been blessed and I have been blessed with Sandy,” Scully said.

Scully has said this will be his final season after a record 67 seasons with the team. He said he will most miss “the roar of the crowd,” which brings him back to when he was 8 years old, listening on his family’s radio to college football games that would later spark his interest in becoming a broadcaster.

Mayor Eric Garcetti recalled going to games as a child with his father Gil, who would be elected district attorney in 1992, and asking why fans at the games would bring transistor radios with them.

“My dad had a two-word answer — Vin Scully,” Garcetti said. “He said they understand the game more, they understand the players and the history and the context.”

Scully has been “the voice and the heart and the soul of this city,” and “an angel in the City of Angels,” Garcetti said, using a phrase frequently used by former Councilman Tom LaBonge, who was also in attendance.

The City Council voted April 8 to give final approval to the changing the name of what had been Elysian Park Avenue. The stadium’s new address, 1000 Vin Scully Avenue, was on a new sign welcoming fans to the stadium that was unveiled last week.

When Garcetti made a similar street-naming proposal in 2013 in response to a viewer question on a public affairs television program, Scully said he would prefer for a street near Dodger Stadium to be renamed after Walter O’Malley, who brought the team to Los Angeles from Brooklyn following the 1957 season, or O’Malley’s son Peter, instead of himself.

“The mayor of Los Angeles has a great deal more important things to do than name a street after me,” Scully said at the time. “And if he is considering that idea, better the street should be named after Walter or Peter O’Malley than myself.”

Peter O’Malley succeeded his father as the team’s chairman of the board upon the elder O’Malley’s death in 1979. The O’Malley family continued to own the Dodgers until the team’s sale to the Fox Group in 1997.

Scully has been a Dodger broadcaster since 1950, the longest tenure for a broadcaster with a team. He has been the Dodgers’ No. 1 announcer since 1954, succeeding his mentor, Red Barber, who had become a broadcaster with the New York Yankees.

Either on the team or NBC broadcasts, Scully has called such memorable moments by the Dodgers (or their opponents) as Kirk Gibson’s pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, Sandy Koufax’s perfect game in 1965, New York Yankee pitcher Don Larsen’s perfect game against the Dodgers in the 1956 World Series and Hank Aaron’s record-setting 715th home run in 1974.

Scully’s many honors include the Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually by the Baseball Hall of Fame to a broadcaster for “major contributions to baseball” and being named the greatest sportscaster by the American Sportscasters Association.

A ranking system devised by author Curt Smith for his 2005 book “Voices of the Game” determined that Scully was baseball’s greatest announcer, giving him a perfect score of 100, based on such factors as longevity, language, popularity and persona.

 

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