I was only eight years old when my parents split up, but thankfully, Vin Scully and the Dodgers were there to help mend my broken heart.
I didn’t know my dad very well when he and my mom separated. I was the youngest of four kids, and my dad was busy with work and my older siblings. The kids stayed with my mom in northern California when they split up, while my dad returned to his Los Angeles roots. I still remember the day when he pulled the U-Haul truck out of the driveway. Would I ever get to know my dad? Spoiler alert: Yes! And Vin Scully had so much to do with it.
I visited my dad every school break and most all of summer vacation, and following the Dodgers very quickly became the core of our relationship. It all started with listening to Scully on the radio in my dad’s photography darkroom. I learned the intricacies of printing photographs from my dad, while Vinny taught me about baseball. And it was a beautiful thing. My dad in one ear telling me when to move a photo from one chemical bath to the next, and Vinny in the other, describing the action on the field. Dad and I would print a whole batch of photos while we listened to the game. What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.
Soon, my dad started taking me to games. My whole summer vacation visit was built around the Dodgers’ home stands. I still remember those tiny Union 76 fold-out Dodger schedules. My dad would always mail them to me way in advance so we could snag tickets to the best games. I have fond memories of my early years at Dodger Stadium: Vinny on the transistor radio, Dodger Dog in one hand, a Coke in the other, my Dad showing me how to keep score. Those were the Steve Garvey–Davey Lopes–Bill Russell–Ron Cey days–an amazing Dodger era to cut your teeth on.
Then came Fernando Valenzuela. Listening to Vinny describe the fever and excitement and dominance of Fernando’s starts and his crazy screwball will always be a highlight for me. So will the time I got Vinny’s autograph around that same time. My dad and I always arrived to the games super early so I could get my signatures. It wasn’t hard to get Vinny’s. He was often on the field in those days, conducting interviews, and he would gladly come to the rail and sign. I remember his kindness and sincere interest when I told him I wanted to write about baseball when I grew up.
World Series Wins
The decades passed by, and my baseball bond with my dad never waned. No matter what was going on in our lives, we connected through Vinny and the Dodgers. In middle school, we finally knocked off those damn Yankees. The Bash Brother A’s went down in my college years. We celebrated these big wins over the phone, watching the champagne-soaked clubhouse interviews together and reliving Vinny’s dramatic calls of the big moments.
The End Of An Era
I lost my dad eight years ago to cancer. After a game, I would pick up the phone and then remember that I couldn’t call him. I miss him like crazy, but listening to Vin Scully take me through a Dodger game made me feel like he was somehow still here with me. Next year will be rough–no Dad, no Vin. I’ll hold on tightly to those days of summer for the rest of my life.
Thanks, Vinny, for mending my broken heart twice. I’ll miss you like crazy, too.