This story, by Harold Rosenthal, first appeared in the Oct. 14, 1953, issue of The Sporting News.
NEW YORK, NY — Vin Scully, the personable young redhead who shared the telecasting plum during the recent World’s Series with the Yankee broadcaster, Mel Allen, enjoyed a rise to that spot so meteoric that he could probably qualify for at least one line in The Sporting News’ “One for the Book.”
Scully saw his first World’s Series in 1952. A year later, when Red Barber, the No. 1 man on the Dodger broadcasting team, decided that the fee offered him for the World’s Series job wasn’t sufficiently attractive, young Scully, who is only a few years out of college, wound up with the prize.
Scully is emphatic about the fact that if it weren’t for Barber and Connie Desmond, the other two-thirds of the Dodgers’ broadcasting and telecasting team, which he joined in 1950 when Ernie Harwell moved to the Giants, he wouldn’t be where he is today.
“Red and Connie taught me everything I know about this business,” enthused Scully. “They hit me over the head when I was talking too much and they gave me a push to get me started when I was too slow. Put all that down.”
An Outfielder for Fordham
Actually, Scully, 26 and unmarried, had the stuff all the while from the time he was a “good field-fair hit” outfielder for Fordham University. Where he had the jump on a lot of other broadcasters was that a golden opportunity struck him right on his frost-bitten nose. Of which, more later.
Luck had a great deal to do with Scully’s advancement, but a pleasant, affable approach to his job, and to people, has helped. Take the case of the secretary at Fordham who insisted that Vin include Radio Station WTOP in Washington among the 150 letters he dispatched asking for a radio job. Scully thought WTOP, a 50,000-watt was too big. The since-departed secretary, Marguerite Clarke, observed, “It’s only another three-cent stamp. Send it.”
Scully got a job in Washington as a summer replacement. Back in New York in the fall of ’49, he dropped by CBS (WTOP is a CBS affiliate) and asked if there was anything going on. There wasn’t, but the fellow in charge of personnel suggested he talk with Red Barber. Barber, in charge of that network’s weekly football round-up, told him there wasn’t anything, but took his name.
“Red Skelton Called You”
There was this big Notre Dame-North Carolina game slated in New York and Warren Brown, the Chicago sports columnist who was scheduled to work the game for CBS, became ill. Ernie Harwell was moved into the job. Someone had to cover the Boston University-Maryland game that Harwell would have covered in the normal course of events.
When Scully got home that afternoon his mother said, “Red Skelton called you.” After a turbulent afternoon it was determined that it had been Red Barber.
“I worked that football game in a light suit suitable for a dance, which I was planning to go to after the game. I thought there would be a booth there for me at Fenway Park,” explained Scully, “but there wasn’t .
“There was nothing,” recalled Scully, “Except a microphone and a roof for me to run back and forth on
“I was so frozen that after the game I went back to the hotel and crawled into bed instead of going to the dance.”
Barber heard about what happened and he must have been impressed. I did Harvard-Yale for CBS that year and the following spring I got the Dodger job.”
Born only a rifle-shot from the Yankee Stadium in the Fordham section of the Bronx, Scully represents the only home-born hand among the broadcasters on all three New York clubs. He has since moved to Bogota, NJ, where he lives with his mother, father, sister, dog and canary.