Vinathon: Vin Scully’s ‘tryout’ with Brooklyn in center field

Los Angeles Dodgers Fanfest

By Jon Weisman

In his how-could-it-not-be-lovely feature on Vin Scully for the Washington Post, Chuck Culpepper passes along this anecdote from the legend.

… All along, he has sustained an appreciation for the skill on the field. That began in earnest his first year, 1950, in Brooklyn Dodgers days, when manager Burt Shotton had heard of Scully’s Fordham center-field days — good field, good throw, jammed too often as a hitter — and asked him to don a Gil Hodges uniform one day before an exhibition in Battle Creek, Mich.

“Gil Hodges was a marble statue,” Scully said. “And here I am, ‘Dodgers’ is down by the belt. My number is halfway down the back of my pants. But I got the uniform on, and I have a glove and all that. And I go out, and I remember, I played pepper with Carl Furillo, he was our right fielder, terrific guy. And it was just like college, playing pepper and everything. And then, I went out in the outfield, and Shotton said, ‘I want to see you shag some balls.’ And I said, ‘Okay.’

“I went out to center field, and there was a left-hand pitcher named Joe Hatten. And Joe and I were standing out there, maybe 300 feet from home plate during batting practice. And Roy Campanella got into the batting cage. And he swung, and he hit what I would call a high line drive. It just stayed straight. And I said, ‘Joe, I’ve got it.’ And he said, ‘Okay.’ And I caught it, but you know, the impact was like no impact I ever felt before. It was like maybe I was playing third base. And as soon as I caught it, I remember I turned to Joe and said, ‘Joe, I don’t belong out here.’ And you have no idea how fast that game is that they play.”

And: “And I watch them day after day and I think, ‘How good they are. Ho-oh-ly mackerel.’ And that’s what I love about it.” …

Read the entire piece here.

Originally published June 27, 2015

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