It was deafening. It was discordant. It was perfect.
With Vin Scully’s trademark greeting, Los Angeles said farewell.
With the five words that formed Vin Scully’s signature, Los Angeles etched his memory into the Dodger Stadium skies.
“So now, 50,000 Dodgers fans, get on your feet,” exhorted Dodgers manager Dave Roberts from the middle of the infield early Friday evening. “On the count of three, yell as loud as you can so Mr. Vin can hear us from Blue Heaven!”
One… two… three.
And then it erupted, from the depths of their sorrow, from the top of their lungs, a cheer straight from the heart of the most powerful connection in this city’s history.
“It’s Time For Dodger Baseball!!!”
Sounded pretty nuts. Sounded pretty wonderful.
In all, it was an appropriately poetic ending to a poignant tribute to Scully, the longtime Dodgers announcer who died Tuesday at 94.
Staged during Friday’s opener of a weekend series with the San Diego Padres, this was the Dodgers first chance to honor Scully in front of his beloved fans since his death. Considering he was steadfastly private and beyond humble, this probably served as his only public memorial service.
If so, the Dodgers did it right, mixing a moment of silence with an emotional video wrapped around a banner unveiling and punctuated by that compelling final cheer.
It was all so sweet, maybe even the always-deferential Scully would have liked it. Or maybe he would have just grinned and endured it. Either way, he had it coming.
“Vin, as he’s looking down on us right now, hated the spotlight on him,” said Roberts in his pregame address to the crowd. “Well, this is going to be very uncomfortable for him. Because this moment right now, he really deserves.”
The celebration of life began long before the game, covering virtually every corner of 1000 Vin Scully Ave.
Outside, the Dodger Stadium welcome sign was covered in flowers, balloons, caps and T-shirts, all clustered under a homemade framed sign.
“God Acquires Vin Scully From the Los Angeles Dodgers.”
Inside, fans wandered the concourses paying homage to various Vin Scully photos and memorabilia, including lining up two dozen deep to pose for a photo in front of the sign marking the Vin Scully Press Box.
Albert Gonzalez, a 52-year-old from San Pedro, stood patiently in that line, his voice thick with the memories.
“I grew up with Vin Scully, listening to him since I was 5, listening to him with my father,” said Gonzalez. “Losing him is like losing a voice, it’s like losing a best friend, he was always in your living room, always in your car, he was everywhere.”
On this night Scully was again everywhere.
There were flowers adorning the entrance to the press box. Down the left-field line, there were flowers hanging next to his retired microphone, which rests on the façade next to Jaime Jarrín’s retired microphone and the retired numbers of 11 other Dodgers.
After the second inning, the videoboard played a recording of Scully singing, “Wind Beneath My Wings,” to the fans after his final home game. During the fifth-inning kiss cam, there was lovely video of Scully smooching with wife Sandi, who died in 2021.
On the videoboard at other times during the night, there appeared the wistful faces of fans telling their favorite Vin Scully stories or answering trivia questions where Scully was the obvious answer.
It was as if Dodger Stadium had been transformed into a giant funeral home populated by jersey-wearing, hot-dog chomping mourners.
One popular jersey, of course, was one reading, “Scully 67.”
“He is the connection, the fabric, from the fans to the organization,” said Roberts of Scully before the game. “You look at 60 years of Dodger baseball, players change, teams are different, but he was the one constant. Every night when you turned on the game, hearing his voice was the constant.”
Roberts added, “He was the conduit for many to share stories, paint pictures, call a ballgame. He was kind of the thread.”
At one point during the pregame ceremony, Scully was literally a thread.
You might remember during his final home game in 2016, Scully hung a banner outside his booth that read, “I’ll Miss You!”
On Friday, the Dodgers finally had a chance to issue the proper response with a new banner unveiled by announcers Joe Davis and Orel Hershiser in the exact spot as the old one.
“Vin — We’ll Miss You! (signed) Dodger Fans” it read.
“He understood that the game was about the players, and about the fans in the stands, he was kind of not wanting to be the star of the show,” said Roberts. “The cast of characters always changes, but it’s about the game.”
But Friday night, for once, it was about Scully, whose place in Dodgers history was etched by Roberts and echoed by thousands.
“He was one of the greatest, if not the greatest, Dodger of all time,” said Roberts.
Interestingly, on different occasions throughout the night, the videoboard showed the two Dodger Stadium statues of Jackie Robinson and Sandy Koufax.
Does this mean a Scully statue could be next? It should be next. In terms of sheer impact on the franchise and the community, Scully is undoubtedly the greatest Los Angeles Dodger ever.
Heck, the Dodgers could even save money on his inscription.
They can do it in five words.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.
Source: Yahoo Sports