I was always a baseball fanatic. I attended the High School of Commerce in Boston, MA. and played baseball for three years. In 1955 my family moved to Los Angeles so I missed my senior year of baseball.
In ’55 I entered a T.V. talent show competition and was subsequently awarded an academic/music scholarship to Loyola University. Loyola, then an all-male school—now Loyola Marymount—had a very good male chorus. I was selected by the Director to be that season’s soloist.
On occasion the chorus would be joined by young women from local high schools and colleges. One of the female singers was Helen Estevez de Guzman. Helen was on scholarship—music and academic—at Mt. St, Mary’s College. As it happily turned out, in 1957 Helen and I were wed. For this blessing, I am perpetually giving thanks. Helen and I will be celebrating our 59th anniversary this year on…Thanksgiving Day.
So, how did Vin Scully come into our life? Well, I introduced Helen to baseball. She and I listened to Dodger broadcasts, and I taught Helen how to keep score of the game.
I worked evenings as a musician (pianist/vocalist/combo leader) while Helen listened to Vin Scully announce the Dodger games. I had filled Helen in on baseball’s rudiments, but Mr. Scully taught her details about baseball history and its players so that every game was both instructive and entertaining. Helen, e.g., learned that the Dodgers were referred to as “Dem Bums” when in Brooklyn.
On Sept. 24, 1957 the Dodgers—the boys from Flatbush (Flatbush is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn.)—played their last game at Ebbets Field and headed for Los Angeles. On April 18, 1958 the new L.A. Dodgers, with Vin Scully at the mic, played the old N.Y. Giants, who became the San Francisco Giants, having moved to California the same year that the Dodgers moved to L.A. Before 78,672 fans in the Dodgers first ballfield in L.A—the Los Angeles Coliseum–the Dodgers defeated the Giants 6-5. Helen and I saw a few games in the massive Coliseum—adjacent to the University of Southern California– that was really a football stadium.
Was everybody happy? Not by a Brooklyn mile! The Brooklynites were furious. “Dem Bums!” had emigrated to L.A. without the fan’s permission. There was a joke at the time that gave expression to the Brooklynites hostility. The joke went something like this. “If you asked a Brooklyn Dodger fan ‘If you had a gun with only two bullets in it and were in a room with Hitler, Stalin, and (Dodger’s owner) Walter O’Malley, who would you shoot?’”
The answer? “O’Malley! Twice!”
Eventually the Dodgers built a grand new stadium in Chavez Ravine, in north-central L.A. Helen and I attended many games there. It was great! The only difficulty was trying to get out of Chavez Ravine onto the L.A. freeway system was a study in chaos. Still, it was well worth it.
On September 23, 2016, the much loved and respected Vin Scully retired, after 67 years of broadcasting. Helen and I will always be Vin Scully fans. Helen will always be a true-Blue Dodger fan. Alas, here my beloved wife of about 59 years and I differ. Now being a Phoenician (AZ), I am a Diamondback fan. I do confess, though, that “Ya just gotta love dem Bums.”
By the time you read this piece, you’ll know whether Dem Bums—winners of the National League West Coast Division–won the 2016 World Series. Tell you a secret! I hope they do. It would be appropriate that the legendary Vin Scully enjoy such a victory on the year of his retirement.
September 23, 2016
Dear Friends, “ Many years ago, a little red-headed boy was walking home from school, passing a Chinese laundry and stopped to see the score of a World Series game posted in the window. The Yankees beat the Giants, 18-4, on October 2, 1936. The boy’s reaction was pity for the Giants and he became a rabid Giants’ fan from that day forward, until the joyous moment when he was hired to broadcast Brooklyn Dodgers games in 1950. Ironically, October 2, 2016 will mark my final broadcast of a Giants-Dodgers game. It will also be exactly 80 years to the day since that little boy fell in love with baseball.
“God has been very generous to that little boy, allowing him to fulfill a dream of becoming a broadcaster and to live it for 67 years. Since 1958, you and I have grown up together through the good times and the bad. The transistor radio is what bound us together.
“Were you at the Coliseum when we sang “Happy Birthday” to an umpire? Were you among the crowd that groaned at one of my puns? Did you kindly laugh at one of my little jokes? Did I put you to sleep with the transistor radio tucked under your pillow?
“You were simply always there for me. I have always felt that I needed you more than you needed me and that holds true to this very day. I have been privileged to share in your passion and love for this great game.
“My family means everything to me and I will now be able to share life’s experiences with them. My wife Sandi, our children, Kevin, Todd, Erin, Kelly, and Catherine, along with our entire family will join me in sharing God’s blessings of that precious gift of time.
“You folks have truly been “The Wind Beneath My Wings” and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for joining me on this incredible journey of 67 years of broadcasting Dodger baseball.”
Scully said the pregame ceremony Friday was the loudest he’d ever heard at a stadium, and the night hit a crescendo as he was leaving the field with “Sandi,” his wife of nearly 43 years. After Mr. Scully completed his monologue to his friends he sang the popular Bette Midler song to “Sandi.” “…Did you ever know that you’re my hero, and everything I would like to be? I can fly higher than an eagle… for you are the wind beneath my wings. It might have appeared to go unnoticed, but I’ve got it all here in my heart. I want you to know the truth that I know. I would be nothing without you.” As the Dodgers lined up on either side of the blue carpet, Scully turned to his wife and said “It feels like we’re getting married again.”