Vinathon: Keeping his cool paid off for shivering Scully
If Tuesday’s Vin Scully 65th anniversary replica talking microphone promotion reflected his big break into show business, the giveaway box would also include a 50-yard extension cord.
Fresh out of Fordham University in 1949, Scully was a radio reporter for CBS and assigned to cover the Maryland-Boston University college football game at Boston’s Fenway Park. Scully arrived at the press box expecting to sit in a booth. Instead, he was shown the roof, where an engineer sat at a little card table. There was also a microphone with a long cord.
Scully was hardly dressed for the assignment, leaving behind his coat, hat and gloves in his hotel room because he planned on attending a dance that evening. The temperature at Fenway Park never rose above 45 degrees as Scully tried to give play-by-play description while pacing on the roof, teeth chattering teeth and notes swirling in the wind.
A couple days later, Scully’s boss received a phone call from a Boston University official, apologizing for the working conditions for the broadcaster. The CBS sports director was Red Barber, the Brooklyn Dodger baseball broadcaster since 1939. Because Scully didn’t complain either on the air or to Barber about the circumstances, Barber was impressed with the kid’s professionalism. Scully’s next assignment was Harvard-Yale – in a booth.
Two months later when Ernie Harwell left the Dodgers to join the New York Giants’ broadcasting team, Barber remembered Scully. Because the No. 3 Dodger broadcasting job wouldn’t require many innings on the air, Barber could take a “rookie” and teach him the tools of the trade. The Barber-Scully mentorship would bridge generations of Dodger fans both in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, the thanks to the respective geniuses of two Hall of Fame broadcasters.
Originally published July 28, 2014