Welcome to part two of this three-part series, where we explore a timeline of the history being made on and off the field during Vin Scully’s 67 year tenure. As we swing into the 1970’s, we find our hero, Vinny, has really hit the big time. Not only is he calling every Dodger game with his trusty sidekicks, Jerry Doggett and Ross Porter, he’s also doing quite a bit of moonlighting on the side. Did you know Vin took his charm and style to the small screen to host a game show called, “It Takes Two”?
Yep, have a look at this video of the opening credits. Now we can all say we’ve seen Vinny in his pajamas!
Vin had this to say about his new show (LA Times – 1969):
“We have to tape 25 shows in 14 days while the Dodgers are in town to carry us over when the club hits the road. That’s the reason I’m doing it, you know. I want to get off the road. I want to get off the baseball wheel. Don’t get me wrong, this is my 20th year broadcasting baseball, and I love it as much as the day I started. But, the road gets me down. Maybe this is a way to earn a living and stay home. At least that’s my goal.”
Interesting to think forty-seven years before Vin retired, the strain of the road made him think of retiring from baseball. Additionally, he had a short-lived variety show in 1973 aptly named, “The Vin Scully Show”. However, it wasn’t meant to be. His hosting career didn’t pan out and luckily for us, Vin moved into the 70’s working more baseball than ever before.
The period between the 1970’s and well into the 1980’s were a busy time, career-wise, for Vin. Not only the aforementioned TV shows, he was also dabbling in the NFL and Golf. Along with calling the Dodger games, he called the Saturday Game of the Week, three World Series (1984, 1986, and 1988), four National League Championship Series (1983, 1985, 1987, and 1989), and four All-Star Games (1983, 1985, 1987, and 1989).
During this time period we’ll also meet the Disco-era Dodgers – Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Bill Russell and Ron Cey. These guys played an unheard of today eight and a half seasons together. Finally, Tommy Lasorda’s managerial dreams came true, as he took over the reigns of his (and our) beloved Dodgers.
As we move into the 80’s one word best describes the fervor that took over Los Angeles – FERNANDOMANIA! Due to an injury to Jerry Reuss, number three starter, Fernando Valenzuela, pitched the 1981 season opener. He pitched a five-hit shutout against the defending division champion Houston Astros – and a star was born. Fernando became the first player ever to win the Rookie of the Year and Cy Young Awards in the same season and Los Angeles loved him!
On top of all of this, we as a nation had six new presidents, lost a Beatle, debuted a VCR (kid’s ask your parents) and met Marty McFly. So, let’s journey on through the groovy 70’s and the big hair 80’s and see what Vin, the Dodgers and history had going on.
World Series Titles 1981 1988
National League Pennants 1974 1977 1978 1981 1988
West Division Titles 1974 1977 1978 1981 1983 1985 1988 1995
Wild Card Berths 1996
Walter Alston (1954 – 1976)
Tommy Lasorda (1976-1996)
1970 – Richard Nixon, President. Peter O’Malley named club president of the Dodgers, succeeding his father, Walter. Paul McCartney officially announced the split of The Beatles. Rocker and blues singer Janis Joplin debuted in Kentucky.
1971 – The VCR was introduced. Paul McCartney announced the formation of his group Wings. Chris Evert & Jimmy Connors won their first US Open tennis matches. John Lennon released the album “Imagine”.
1972 – Sandy Koufax, Yogi Berra, & Early Wynn elected to the Hall of Fame. Hank Aaron became the first baseball player to sign for $200,000 a year. The movie “The Godfather” premiered. The game show “The Price is Right” debuted on CBS.
1973 – American League adopted the designated hitter rule. George Foreman TKOs Joe Frazier in Two rounds for the heavyweight boxing title. KISS played their first show in Queens NY.
June 13, 1973 first baseman Steve Garvey, second baseman Davey Lopes, shortstop Bill Russell and third baseman Ron Cey played their first game together.
1974 – Gerald Ford became the 38th President when President Nixon resigned due to the escalating Watergate scandal. Dodgers won 102 games, the most by a Dodger team since 1962.
April 8, 1974 Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run, breaking Babe Ruth’s record. Vin’s iconic call of this historic home run is one of the best of his career. The gravity of the moment was bigger than the feat on the field and Vin captured it with perfection.
In an interview with Daniel Riley of GQ Magazine (2011) Vin said this about the iconic moment:
“The place went bananas, I mean just crazy. So I didn’t want to say anything; the crowd noise to me was like a symphony, and I took the headset off and I walked to the back of the booth. I stood back there and just watched it, and loved listening. There I was, an eight-year old boy again —I was under the radio, just listening to this crowd.
When I came back again, I just said what I felt, and what I felt was that it was great for Henry and his family; it was great for the team and the city and the state. But eventually, my mind kept saying, this is bigger than that. This is huge. This is a great sociological thing because a black man is being honored in the Deep South. I mean you’ve got yourself a monumental moment. So all of that came out. That was it. When Henry hit the home run, I guarantee you that’s the longest uninterrupted crowd noise, maybe in the history of sports because there was nothing else to say. Everybody tuning in knew where he was, what happened, what it meant. There was nothing else to say—just that roar of the crowd.”
1975 – Saturday Night Live premiered. United States involvement in the Vietnam War (1955 – 1975) finally came to an end. Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” premiered.
1976 – Walter Alston retired after managing the Dodgers for 22 years (1954-1976) and four World Series wins (1955, 1959, 1963, 1965).
Tommy Lasorda became the Dodgers manager — Back in 1963, when Tommy was a scout for the Dodgers, he looked out over Dodger Stadium and had this to say to his wife, Jo:
“We were up so high … and I turned to my wife and I said, ‘Do you see that dugout down there? One day, I’m going to be in that dugout as the manager of the Dodgers in the World Series,'” he said. “Well, 14 years later I was managing the Dodgers in that dugout. It was my home for 20 years, and this stadium is still my home today, almost 20 years after I retired from managing.”
Finally, in 1976 Tommy’s dreams came true, and to this day, nobody bleeds a bluer Dodger blue than Tommy Lasorda.
1977 – Jimmy Carter nominated 39th President. The movie “Star Wars” premiered. Ross Porter joined Vin Scully and Jerry Doggett in the Dodgers booth (1977-2004). The Dodgers made history when four players hit 30 or more home runs – Steve Garvey (33), Reggie Smith (32), Ron Cey (30) and Dusty Baker (30).
1978 – “Dallas” starring Larry Hagman premiered. The movie “Grease” starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John premiered. NY Yankees beat Dodgers, 4 games to 2 in 75th World Series.
1979 – Willie Mays elected to Baseball Hall of Fame. The Phillies beat the Cubs 23-22 in a 10-inning, 50 hit slug fest. Sony introduced the first Walkman. LA Dodger Rick Sutcliffe won NL Rookie of Year.
1980 – 19-Year old Fernando Valenzuela appeared in his first 10 games with the Dodgers, all in relief (gave up zero earned runs). The Dodgers hosted their first All-Star Game. Mark David Chapman took the life of Beatle, John Lennon, in NYC.
1981 – Ronald Reagan nominated 40th President. On Opening Day in 1981, 20 year-old rookie Fernando Valenzuela started due to an injured Jerry Reuss and went on to blank the Astros (2-0) at Dodger Stadium. “Fernandomania” was born and took Los Angeles by storm.
The LA Dodgers Win the World Series!
The NY Yankees were up two games on the Dodgers in the 1981 World Series. Fernando Valenzuela’s gutsy game three performance – a complete game, 147 (!) pitch win turned things around. Despite struggling throughout the outting, after a visit to the mound, Lasorda knew his young star could do the job.
“Everybody thought I was going to take him out,” Lasorda said. “A lot of people wanted me to take him out. But I knew him. He loved to pitch out of jams. He used to pitch like he didn’t know we had a bullpen. He didn’t like to come out of games. A lot of guys, when they get in trouble, they’re looking down there for help. But not him.”
Tommy was right. Valenzuela won the game, the Dodgers went on to win the next three along with the World Series title.
“It wasn’t Fernando’s best performance, it was his finest performance.” ~ Vin Scully
1982 – Steve Garvey, cornerstone for the Dodgers at first base, played his final game for the Dodgers in Los Angeles. Second baseman, Steve Sax, won Rookie of the Year. Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder released “Ebony & Ivory” in the UK.
Vin Scully received the Ford C. Frick award for excellence in broadcasting. Grab a box of Kleenex and watch his heartfelt speech.
1983 – Sally Ride became the first American woman in space. Wayne Gretzky set NHL all star record of 4 goals in 1 period.
1984 – Madonna first sang “Holiday” on American Bandstand. Apple Computer unveiled its revolutionary Macintosh personal computer. Summer Olympics opened in Los Angeles.
1985 – Fernando Valenzuela set a Major League record for most consecutive innings at the start of a season without allowing an earned run (41). “Back to the Future” premiered.
1986 – The space shuttle Challenger disaster. Clint Eastwood elected mayor of Carmel California.
October 25, 1986 Bill Buckner’s Big Blunder. World Series, Game 6 between the Red Sox and the Mets. Deviating from his normal Dodgers duties, Vin Scully had the call.
“A little roller up along first…. Behind the bag…. It gets through Buckner! Here comes [Ray] Knight, and the Mets win it!”
Vin had this to say about the memorable error:
“When it was all over, I felt badly because Billy had played with the Dodgers. To this day, if I saw it I’d be startled. It’s what makes this game so great, you just can’t take anything for granted.”
1987 – Don Mattingly won highest salary arbitration ($1,975,000 per year). Oakland first baseman Mark McGwire won AL Rookie of Year. Jerry Doggett retired from broadcasting.
1988 – The LA Dodgers Win the World Series!
We all remember Kirk Gibson’s historic home run, Vin recounts to GQ Magazine (2011) how he inadvertently prodded Gibson into history.
“If I categorized home runs that I’ve seen, without a doubt the monumental one is Henry’s… but I’ve seen a lot of classic, great home runs. Gibson’s was probably the most theatrical home run I’ve ever seen.
In the ninth, after the outs were made, we went into commercial, so I talked to the truck, which I rarely do, and I said ’Fellas, when we come out of commercial, stay with me.’ So the first shot out of commercial was the dirigible floating above, so I said, ’If you’re here in the ballpark, and if you have a pair of binoculars, the first thing you’d do is look in the Dodger dugout’—and wham! there was a shot of the dugout. And I said, ’If you look the length of the dugout to see where Kirk Gibson is…’—and they panned the whole dugout—’…obviously, if he’s not in the dugout, he’s not gonna play tonight.’
Meanwhile, Kirk is sitting in the dressing room, he’s got bad legs, can’t play. He’s got two huge sacks of ice, one on each leg, and he’s sitting there by himself looking at the TV monitor at that dramatic sweep of the dugout, and listening to my ’He won’t play,’ and all that stuff. It did something to him, and so he yells out, ’Bullshit Vinny!’ and throws the ice down. And he said to the kid in the locker room, ’Tell Tommy [Lasorda] I’ll be right down.”
1989 – George H. Bush nominated 41st President. Don Drysdale joined Vin Scully and Ross Porter in the broadcasting booth. Pete Rose banned from baseball for betting on games as a player and manager.
1990 – “Seinfeld” starring Jerry Seinfeld debuted. LA Dodger Ramon Martinez struck out 18 Atlanta Braves. Fernando Valenzuela and Oakland’s Dave Stewart pitch no-hitters on the same night (June 29th).
1991 – Baseball officially banned Pete Rose from being elected to Hall of Fame. Dodger, Darryl Strawberry hit 28 home runs, the most by a left-handed hitter in Los Angeles history at that point.
1992 – Eric Karros won National League Rookie of the Year. Dodgers won 3,000th game since moving to Los Angeles.
1993 – Bill Clinton nominated 42nd President. Mike Piazza won National League Rookie of the Year. Piazza hit two home runs on the last day of the season. The Dodgers knocked their longtime rival the Giants out of playoff contention with a 12-1 victory at Dodger Stadium.
July 3, 1993 Beloved former Hall of Fame Dodger and broadcaster, Don Drysdale, died in Montreal, Quebec of a heart attack while the team was playing the Expos. The news of Drysdale’s death travelled quickly through the shocked clubhouses. The news was not released on air until the eighth inning as they needed to contact, Don’s wife, Ann. Finally, Vin announced his death on air. Unable to speak with reporters after the game, Vin released this statement:
“It was the toughest broadcast of my life. I am stunned and brokenhearted for Ann and the children. Don was not only a Hall of Fame player and a fine broadcaster, but a dear friend and a joy to be with. I pray for the Drysdales so they have strength through this difficult time.”
Thank you for joining me on this walk through the exciting 1970’s into the early 1990’s of Dodger history. Next Sunday we’ll explore 1994 until today. During this period the Dodgers get two new owners, three new managers and a terror attack rocks the nation and changes our lives forever. All of this leads to that fateful day when the voice of Los Angeles — the voice of baseball, Vin Scully, hangs up his microphone one last time.
Hope you’ll join me next week, until then, go Dodgers!