A bittersweet goodbye and a fond memory of Dodgers announcer Vin Scully as Rose Parade Grand Marshal

R. Scott Jenkins, president of the 125th Tournament of Roses, and Vin Scully, legendary Dodgers announcer, at the announcement of the Grand Marshal on Sept. 5, 2013. Copyright 2013 LBM
R. Scott Jenkins, president of the 125th Tournament of Roses, and Vin Scully, legendary Dodgers announcer, at the announcement of the Grand Marshal on Sept. 5, 2013. Copyright 2013 LBM

by Laura Berthold Monteros

With Vin Scully winding down his 67-year career with the Dodgers as the premier play-by-play announcer in baseball, it’s time to reprise the articles we wrote about his long-awaited appearance as Grand Marshal of the Tournament of Roses Parade. We’ve worked them together into one tribute to the Master of the Mic.

“Hi, everybody, and a pleasant Thursday to you!” Vin Scully said when he took the lectern at Tournament House on Sept. 5, 2013.  As his signature opening line, he laughed, “I just had to say that.”  The Dodger play-by-play announcer was the choice of Tournament of Roses President R. Scott Jenkins to be the 2014 Rose Parade Grand Marshal.

“The most wonderful privilege about being president of the Tournament of Roses is two things,” R. Scott Jenkins said at the announcement that LA Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully would be the 2014 Grand Marshal on Thursday.  Number one is he gets to choose the theme, “Dreams Come True,” and number two is that he gets to choose the Grand Marshal.

After turning down the gig multiple times, Scully was finally convinced to bear the honors. We caught Jenkins as he was leaving the stage and asked how he scored Scully. The TOR president came close to your reporter and whispered, “Sandy.  One word.”  Sandy is Scully’s wife.

Scully was just about as perfect a choice as one can desire for the position, especially in a year of auspicious anniversaries: the 125th Rose Parade, the 100th Rose Bowl Game, the 100th anniversary of Tournament House, and the 65th year of Dodger baseball with Vin Scully.  Like the Tournament  itself, he combines national and international renown with deep local roots and love from the fans.  It is unlikely, though, that anyone seriously thought he would accept until reporters arrived to Cracker Jack, organ music, and blue and white curtains across the Tournament House porch.

Grand Marshal Vin Scully rode in a 1950 Oldsmobile 98 Coupe Convertible, decorated by FTD in shades of blue and white to honor his long career with the Dodgers. Copyright 2014 Ramona Monteros
Grand Marshal Vin Scully rode in a 1950 Oldsmobile 98 Coupe Convertible, decorated by FTD in shades of blue and white to honor his long career with the Dodgers. Copyright 2014 Ramona Monteros

The red-haired eight-year-old who propped himself on a pillow under the radio to listen to football games pursued his dream to become a broadcaster, and the dream came true. For his supporters, after he had declined so many times, even after a petition drive from Rose Parade and Dodger fans, the announcement was a dream come true. With his usual humility, Scully said, “I’m not making a personal appearance as much as beating my breast, saying thank you God for the opportunity.”  He gives credit to the fans for his success and popularity.

And did you see him in the parade on Jan. 1, 2014?  In that great-looking 1950 Oldsmobile 98 Coupe Convertible, manufactured the same year he called his first ball game?  Did you see how he idolized the fans who idolized him and screamed like little girls as he passed?  He hit it out of the park!

Scully’s now 67-year tenure with the Dodgers is the longest of any broadcaster with a single team in the history of all professional sports.  He started young.   He called his first game at age 22 and at 25 became the youngest person to ever broadcast

Vinnie and his wife of 40 years were as happy to see the fans at the 2014 Rose Parade as they were to see them. In his acceptance speech, he noted, “My lovely wife Sandra will be there by my side.” Copyright 2014 Ramona Monteros
Vinnie and his wife of 40 years at the 2014 Rose Parade. Copyright 2014 Ramona Monteros

a World Series Game.  He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982 and was elected the top sportscaster of the 20th century by the non-profit American Sportscasters Association in 2000.

Here are some of the highlights of Scully’s broadcast career:

  • The only championship won by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1955
  • Hank Aaron’s record-setting 715th home run
  • Kirk Gibson’s miracle homer in the 1988 World Series
  • Sandy Koufax’s four no-hitters, including one perfect game
  • Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series
  • Scoreless inning streaks by Don Drysdale and Orel Hershiser
  • Three perfect games, 25 no-hitters, 25 World Series and 12 All-Star games.

Beyond his distinctive broadcasting style, humility and integrity are Scully’s hallmarks  As Jenkins said,  these are “his two most outstanding characteristics and the prime reasons I chose him.”  Immediately after the announcement, Scully told us, “I had to figure out why they were asking me.”  The only reason he could think of was his “longevity” and the fact that the Dodgers were having a successful season, “because I haven’t done anything.” Millions of baseball fans would respectfully disagree.