In September of 1965, it was 9:46 p.m. and Los Angeles Dodgers ace Sandy Koufax had a two-and-two count on pinch hitter Harvey Kuenn of the Chicago Cubs.
Koufax, who had pitched a perfect game to that point, was no longer just one out “away from the promised land” as Dodgers broadcasting legend Vin Scully had put it earlier during the at-bat. He was a single strike away from perfection.
On his next pitch, Koufax got Kuenn (who was also the final out of a Koufax no-hitter but also got the final hit of his career off the legendary lefty) swinging and sealed the perfect game. Scully, recognizing the moment, let it breathe and simply had the broadcast air more than 30 seconds of the crowd cheering. Then, he hopped back on the mic.
“On the scoreboard in right field it is 9:46 p.m. in the City of the Angels, Los Angeles, California,” he began. “And a crowd of 29,139 just sitting in to see the only pitcher in baseball history to hurl four no-hit, no-run games. He has done it four straight years, and now he caps it: On his fourth no-hitter he made it a perfect game. And Sandy Koufax, whose name will always remind you of strikeouts, did it with a flurry. He struck out the last six consecutive batters. So when he wrote his name in capital letters in the record books, that ‘K’ stands out even more than the O-U-F-A-X.”
Scully, who also called Hank Aaron’s 715th home run to break Babe Ruth’s all-time record on April 8, 1974, Red Sox Bill Buckner’s error against the Mets in the 1986 World Series on Oct. 25, 1986, and Kirk Gibson’s pinch-hit, walk-off home run off Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series on Oct. 15, 1988, had many memorable calls over the course of his 67-year career working for the Dodgers, which began in 1950 in Brooklyn and ended in Los Angeles in 2016. Opinions differ about which is the best, but for many, Koufax in ’65 is Scully’s gold standard.
Sadly, the Hall-of-Famer died yesterday at his California home at the age of 94. No cause of death was provided.
Joe Davis, who replaced Scully in 2017, reported the news to viewers in the bottom of the fifth inning at Oracle Park where the Dodgers were playing the Giants. “Well, it’s with heavy hearts that we pass along some really tough news,” Davis said. “At the age of 94, Vin Scully has passed away.” Then, like Scully, he was silent and let the moment breathe before doing his job and getting back to the call of the game.
Throughout his career, Scully would always open his broadcasts with a 14-word greeting: “Hi everybody, and a very pleasant good evening to you wherever you may be.” Collectively, the baseball world now wishes Scully the same.