Sunday, April 05, 2015

Vin Calls Sandy

I've begged, pleaded, and implored people to listen to the most fabulous ten minutes in sports play-by-play history. Tonight, on the eve of Opening Day, I'm posting it again.

Sandy Koufax was perfect through eight innings against the Cubs on September 9, 1965. Only 29,000 fans were at Dodger Stadium on that night. Vin Scully was in the booth, calling the game on radio.

There is no video of the game. No full audio broadcast. Only the ninth inning. Why? Because not everything was recorded in those days, but "Vinny" asked the engineer to roll tape, as a potential souvenir for Koufax if he could get the three outs in the top of the ninth.

This is poetry. The mellifluous Scully, in his 16th year working for the Dodgers, at 37 years of age, went to work on calling the game in his usual style. There's no hype. There are no theatrics and histrionics. In fact, he chides Koufax at one point:
That’s only the second time tonight where I have had the feeling that Sandy threw instead of pitched, trying to get that little extra, and that time he tried so hard his hat fell off — he took an extremely long stride to the plate — and (Jeff) Torborg had to go up to get it.
There are other lines in this inning that simply give me chills.
The Dodgers defensively in this spine-tingling moment: Sandy Koufax and Jeff Torborg. The boys who will try and stop anything hit their way: Wes Parker, Dick Tracewski, Maury Wills and John Kennedy; the outfield of Lou Johnson, Willie Davis and Ron Fairly. And there’s 29,000 people in the ballpark and a million butterflies. Twenty nine thousand, one hundred and thirty-nine paid.
There had only been five perfect games in the "modern era" of baseball, and seven total prior to Sept. 9, 1965. Spine-tingling, indeed.
A lot of people in the ballpark now are starting to see the pitches with their hearts.
I would think that the mound at Dodger Stadium right now is the loneliest place in the world.
Finally, the coda:
Sandy into his windup, here’s the pitch: Swung on and missed, a perfect game!
Yes, we still believe in miracles. The Giants won the pennant. The ball still gets by Buckner. In the year that had been so improbable, the impossible happened. Holy cow, going going gone, and the waiting is over. All great calls (and many many more).

This is the one I tell students to listen to. It's just how you do it. It was transcribed on Salon in 1999.

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