My relationship with reality is … fluid. I am skilled in putting things I don’t want to deal with out of my mind (even as I simultaneously worry insignificant details to bloody bits). If something dancing in front of my face is too painful to acknowledge, I can tunnel through my brain until I excavate a place of relative safety, a place where I can cue up an old memory or one of the characters I’ve created throughout the years who wait patiently to entertain me, a place where I can pull layers of protective neurons and nerve fibers over my head.
I have lots of these hidey-holes. But none of them are deep enough to block out this reality: On Oct. 2, I will hear Vin Scully call a baseball game for the last time.
A born-and-bred East Coaster, I can’t claim that Vin’s voice has been an ever-present comfort, casting colors over my childhood and shepherding me into a semblance of adulthood. As a lifelong Dodgers fan, I of course held him in venerated respect, but it took the gifts of MLB At-Bat and MLB.TV to bring him into my life on a nightly basis. For the past few years, I’ve listened to Vin call games while absorbing impromptu history lessons and details about players’ lives.
Just this week, I’ve witnessed him showing off his lip-reading skills while providing the highly entertaining play-by-play of the latest dust-up between Yasiel Puig and Madison Bumgarner, heard his description of Angel Pagan’s belt buckle as a shovel after Pagan’s head-first slide into first, and chuckled over his lament of the rather pedestrian story behind manager Dave Roberts’ nickname of Doc (his initials are DR). He’s exulted in a jaw-dropping throw by Puig from right field to home plate, shared the smattering of Japanese he speaks and explained how he’s said goodbye to the Braves in three cities – Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta.
Last night, and the night before that, I fell asleep to his voice, waking up sometime in the middle of the night to fumble to turn off my iPhone.
I can’t write eloquently about legendary calls I didn’t hear, or share goosebump-inducing stories of meeting the man in person. I’ve never even been to Dodger Stadium – or to California, for that matter.
What I have been is lonely, and sad, and unwilling to cede the midnight solace of Vin’s voice to the uncertain light of the next morning. Just as this baseball season geared up, my life blew up. Gone were things I thought were forever, faces I cherished, promises I clung to.
In the muffled chaos of a new house, a new job, a new cat, Vin is my constant. He is not the antithesis of change, but rather the graceful embodiment of it. In 67 years as the voice of the Dodgers, he has seen things and met people and had conversations that many seamheads would give their eyeteeth to have been a part of, but while he obviously is fond of that past, he does not carry a torch for it. He indulges each night, before the top of the sixth inning, in a bit of cheery nostalgia that sounds the way memory should – evocative, light-hearted, some humor sprinkled over wry wisdom.
He does not pine for what's gone before. Our pining at his going, all the fuss being made, no doubt bemuses him.
Vin’s last game at Dodger Stadium is Sunday, and his last will be in the lair of the hated Giants a week after that. I can’t wait until then to write something, because I won’t be able to write anything.
I do not know what I will do without him. I am not sure how to have a very pleasant good evening if there is no chance of Vin describing the sunset behind the San Gabriel mountains.
So I just won’t think about it while I dig another tunnel. Reality, I've often found, is overrated anyway.