“Hi everybody, and a very pleasant good afternoon to you, wherever you may be.” ~Vin Scully
Welcome to the third and final part 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. This time period, from 1994 through the present day has been, in a word, tumultuous. We experienced the Northridge Earthquake, a season ending player’s strike, the devastation of hurricane Katrina and a terrorist attack that changed our lives forever.
However, as baseball does – it played on. After the 9-11 terror attacks, baseball went quiet for ten days as the nation sat in stunned mourning for her many losses. But, in Shea Stadium on September 21st, baseball came back with defiance and resolve. I’m neither a Mets nor a Braves fan, but I watched that game. I needed to see something normal, something I understood. When Mike Piazza hit a two-run homer in the eighth, the crowd roared endlessly. That moment, as the New York fans cheered, was symbolic of our nations perseverance and strength. Baseball helped bring a normalcy back to our shattered lives.
“I was glad to come through and give these people something to cheer for at last,” Piazza said.
“That’s why they came out, to be diverted from the sorrow and the loss.”
As for the Dodgers, these years were tumultuous as well. Three new owners (Fox Entertainment, Frank McCourt and the current Guggenheim Group), numerous new managers and not a single World Series win. However, they did win six division titles, nothing to scoff at, but we’re ready for a World Series ring!
Last, but never least, there’s our beloved Vin Scully. As of this writing we’re mere weeks from his October 2nd retirement day. It doesn’t feel real to me, I can’t imagine Dodger baseball without Vin. Consequently, while writing this series, I’ve spent hours watching YouTube videos of Vin – giving speeches, interviews and calling every game from Sandy Koufax’s no-hitter to Clayton Kershaw’s. Reliving those memories was a reminder of how truly blessed we’ve been that he’s been ours for so long. He will live on as simply the best.
So, let’s walk through these last years as we head to that fateful day when Vin hangs up his microphone for the last time.
1994 – 2016
Western Division Titles 1995 2004 2009 2013 2014 2015
Wild Card Berths 1996 2006
Tommy Lasorda 1976-1996
Bill Russell 1996-1998
Glenn Hoffman 1998
Davey Johnson 1999-2000
Jim Tracy 2001-2005
Grady Little 2006-2007
Joe Torre 2008-2010
Dom Mattingly 2011-2015
Dave Roberts 2016-Present
1994 – Bill Clinton, President. Northridge Earthquake, magnitude 6.7, hits the SF Valley of Los Angeles. The Northridge quake was one of the most damaging in U.S. history.
April 11, 1994 MLB player’s strike. Because of the strike, the 1994 World Series was cancelled; it was the first time baseball did not crown a champion in 89 years.
1995 – Vin Scully inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame. Japanese pitcher, Hideo Nomo, won Rookie of the Year. Nomo went 13-6 with an 2.54 ERA and a league leading 236 strikeouts. Murder trial against OJ Simpson began in LA.
March 31, 1995 Major League Baseball players are sent back to work after the longest strike in baseball history ends.
1996 – Longtime manager, Tommy Lasorda, suffered a heart attack in mid-season and had to step down. Bill Russell, Lasorda’s bench coach and a former Dodger player, was chosen to manage the rest of the season.
September 17, 1996 Hideo Nomo does the unimaginable and throws the first no-hitter at Coors Field against the Rockies.
1997 – The Dodgers retired Tommy Lasorda’s number (2) on August 15, 1997. Book one of the HP series, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” debuted.
Tommy Lasorda inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
1998 – Peter O’Malley sold the Dodgers franchise to the Fox Entertainment Group. In one of the most controversial trades in Dodgers history; Mike Piazza was traded to the Marlins.
Jaime Jarrin, inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
1999 – “The Sopranos”, starring James Gandolfini as mobster Tony Soprano, debuts on HBO.
Vin Scully and Tommy Lasorda celebrated their 50th year with the Dodgers organization.
2000 – The Dodgers set a club record of 211 home runs. Los Angeles Lakers, NBA Champions.
2001 – George W. Bush nominated President. Los Angeles Lakers, NBA Champions.
September 11, 2001 Terrorist attacks – 2,996 victims are killed in the September 11 attacks at the World Trade Center in New York City, New York, The Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia, and in rural Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Vin Scully’s touching 9-11 speech
2002 – Los Angeles Lakers, NBA Champions. “American Idol” with judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson premieres on Fox. Shawn Green hit 42 home runs to become the first L.A. Dodger to have back-to-back 40 or more homer seasons.
2003 – U.S. and Britain launch war against Iraq. Saddam Hussein, former President of Iraq – captured.
2004 – The Frank McCourt ownership era began. The Dodgers won 93 games and captured the National League West Division title for the first time since 1995.
[In this writer’s opinion, the McCourt era of ownership was one of the bleakest in this storied franchise’s history. Their lavish spending, to quote an advisor, used the Dodgers “like their personal credit card,” leveraging team assets to support their luxury lifestyle. This grotesque spending cumulated in the team filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It was a happy day when the McCourt’s sold the team. JW]
2005 – Hurricane Katrina strikes Louisiana. The injury plagued Dodgers had the second worst finish in their Los Angeles history (71-91), which led to the firing of manager Jim Tracy and General Manager Paul DePodesta.
2006 – Steve Irwin, The Crocodile Hunter dies after being pierced by a stingray. Grady Little took over as manager of the Dodgers and led them to a berth in the playoffs as the National League Wild Card. The Dodgers led the National League in attendance and set the single-season franchise record for attendance (3,758,545). Rick Honeycutt joined the Dodgers as pitching coach.
2007 – The first iPhone debuted. The last book of the HP series, “Harry Potter and the Deathy Hallows” debuted. Russell Martin won the Roy Campanella Award as most inspirational Dodger.
2008 – Joe Torre became Dodgers manager and they won the National League West for the first time since 2004. After sweeping the Chicago Cubs, they went on to lose to the Phillies in the NLCS.
2009 – Barack Obama nominated President. Michael Jackson dies. The Dodgers reached the National League Championship Series for the second straight season only to once more fall short in five games against the Philadelphia Phillies.
2010 – The first Apple iPad goes on sale. Los Angeles Lakers, NBA Champions. The Dodgers mark their 53rd season in Los Angeles. Engagement announced between Prince William and Kate Middleton at Clarence House, London. After a losing season, Joe Torre stepped down as Dodgers manager.
2011 – Don Mattingly became Manager of the Dodgers. Los Angeles Lakers, NBA Champions. The Los Angeles Dodgers underwent a period of turmoil in management in 2011-2012 that began when Major League Baseball seized control of the team from owner Frank McCourt on April 20, 2011. Osama bin Laden is killed by United States special forces in Pakistan.
2012 – LA Kings win the Stanley Cup. Guggenheim Baseball Mgmt./Magic Johnson took over ownership. The total sale price for the Dodgers (including Dodgers Stadium) exceeded $2 billion, making the sale the largest for a professional sports team in history.
2013 – Boston Marathon Terror Attack. After a slow start the Dodgers went on a 46-10 tear with the emergence of Rookie Yasiel Puig leading the way. They went on to clinch the NL West.
2014 – LA Kings win the Stanley Cup. Dodger, Josh Beckett, pitched his first no-hitter. The Dodgers won the NL West.
June 18, 2014 Clayton Kershaw pitches his first no-hitter (9 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 15 K) against the Colorado Rockies.
2015 – Deflate-Gate, involving the New England Patriots allegedly tampering with footballs, resulted in a Tom Brady suspension. General manager, Ned Colletti, was replaced with Farhan Zaidi and new president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. The Dodgers won their third straight NL West Championship in 2015 with a history topping payroll in excess of 300 million.
2016 – Dave Roberts named manager. As of this writing, the Dodgers sit at the top of the NL West by five games with the SF Giants close behind. Monday these two teams face-off and it’s sure to be a thriller.
April 11, 2016 Dodger Stadium address changed to 1000 Vin Scully Ave.
October 2, 2016 Vincent Edward Scully retires from broadcasting.
Thank you for joining me on this three-part journey through Vin Scully’s 67 year career. You can find part one and two here:
Scully said Tuesday he would not call any Dodgers playoff games on radio, meaning his career will end Oct. 2 in San Francisco.
“Otherwise, I’d be saying goodbye like in grand opera, where you say goodbye 12 different times,” Scully told The Times.
“As a little kid, my first thought was, ‘Oh, those poor Giants,’“ Scully said. “From that little kernel, I developed a desire and a love for baseball. Since the Giants were 20 city blocks from my school and I could get there thanks to the Catholic Youth Organization and the Police Athletic League, I could go to games free, Monday through Friday. So I became a very big Giants fan.
As things turn out, the last game of the season, and my last broadcast, will be against the Giants, in San Francisco, Oct. 2, 2016 — exactly 80 years to the day that I saw that Giant-Yankee scorecard.
“That is a fitting conclusion, I think, to my career.”
Vin has given us 67 years of his life. Years we’ll cherish and forever look back on with nostalgia, wonder and love. However, it’s time to let Vin slip on a Hawaiian shirt, khakis and flip flops and relax with his family, friends and loved ones. Thank you, Mr. Scully for enriching our lives for so many years. You always say you were blessed to have this job for so long, but the truth is, we were the ones that were truly blessed.
This chapter is ending, but come Spring, a new one begins. Such is life – she goes on, just like baseball.