Skip to content

Growing Old: a study in contrasts featuring Vin Scully and Murray Chass

Aug 29, 2013, 12:34 PM EDT

scully ap AP

Murray Chass — who just the other day I lauded for a nice one-off back at the New York Times — is back over at his blog today and he writes up an interview with Vin Scully. A man, surprisingly enough, Chass had never met despite their long decades covering and announcing the game.

Most of it is your by now standard “Vin is amazing” stuff which, even if it’s 100% true, sort of goes without saying. But there’s a couple of bits near the end which tell you all you need to know about why one — Vin — is still vital and the other — Chass — has been put out to pasture and skews misanthropic.

Chass spends a great chunk of the article talking smack about modern announcers, with a decided disapproval of the modern baseball broadcast.  Here’s Scully, however, talking about the modern broadcast as compared to what he and Mel Allen were doing in the 1950s. Specifically when he and Mel Allen announced Don Larsen’s 1956 Perfect Game, which he watched in a rebroadcast on MLB Network a few years ago:

“I took over the second half of the perfect game. It was so boring. so dull. In those days writers said broadcasters talked too much. I followed Mel’s lead. He referred to consecutive outs – 10th in a row, 15th in a row. So when I took over that’s what I did. We never mentioned a perfect game. It was so dull … Today, given the perfect game, we would have had magnificent shots, what teammates were doing, what was going on in the dugout. In looking at what we do today, compared with what we’ve done, it’s so different.”

Scully is a throwback and an old timer in a lot of respects, but he sees the advances in his industry as positive things. Or, at the absolute very least says he does, and thus is magnanimous towards his colleagues in the industry in a way Chass never has been at all.

Here’s Chass, talking about sabermetrics:

Scully has lasted long enough in the business, as I have, to encounter other changes, such as the new era of what some people call sabermetric statistics but what I see as the new age of younger fans who resent their late arrival to the game and are trying to reinvent it.

Scully is no sabermetrician, but note how his eschewing advanced stats has nothing to do with judgment and everything to do with his own personal tastes and capabilities:

I asked Scully if he uses or pays attention to the new-fangled statistics.

“No,” he said. “It’s beyond me. I try to be as old-fashioned as possible – batting average, home runs, runs batted in, stolen bases. I don’t disapprove of those who use them, but it’s beyond me. It’s too much for me.”

source:  One of these guys is accepting and approving of new ideas, even if he does’t adopt the new ways himself. One of them thinks everything new is bunk. One is of sunny public disposition, the other is an angry crank.  One has a job broadcasting one of the best, most popular and interesting teams in baseball.  The other has gone from being a feature columnist at the Paper of Record to being forced into writing a little-trafficked personal blog which, based on his own comments, he rather loathes.

This is no accident. It’s no accident even if you weight for their respective talents at their craft (Chass, after all, was no slouch as a writer and reporter). When you open yourself up to the new or, at the very least, are comfortable with who you are and aren’t threatened by those around you who do new things, you’re going to adapt to the future just fine. When you don’t — when you’re hostile and disapproving of everything — no one is really gonna want to have you around anymore.

  1. giant4life - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:42 PM

    I hate the dodgers…but love to listen to Vin make the call… is as pure as baseball ever was…

    • tuberippin - Aug 29, 2013 at 10:54 PM

      Vin Scully, Jack Buck, and Bob Sheppard. Three baseball voices that have always been music to my ears.

  2. yahmule - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    Vin Scully: “Statistics are used much like a drunk uses a lamppost: for support, not illumination.”


    • largebill - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:59 PM

      Baseball Almanac may attribute that quote to Scully, but it pre-dates him. Both Winston Churchill and Mark Twain among others used the line well before Scully.

    • paperlions - Aug 29, 2013 at 1:00 PM

      Well, no one is right all the time.

      • yahmule - Aug 29, 2013 at 1:21 PM

        What I love about Vin is that he really is more open minded than most people. Think of all the trends and fads and cultural changes he’s witnessed over 65 years. Imagine having a microphone picking up your off the cuff musings about all those things. How do you not come off as behind the times occasionally? I think he still repeats that quote sometimes, but as much for its comic imagery as for its veracity. I’ve seen Vin modify his opinions on all kind of subjects over the years. Quite a talent and one many people rarely attempt to cultivate.

      • paperlions - Aug 29, 2013 at 1:46 PM

        Yep. I’ve said repeatedly…getting to listen to Skully call Dodger games is worth the price of MLB.TV even if you aren’t a Dodger fan and you are on the east coast and only get to listen to a few innings before heading to bed.

        He is funny, clever, smooth, and insightful all while “telling the story” of the baseball game being played….the rare talent that enhances the baseball watching experience.

  3. philsieg - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    A man whose last name rhymes with ass shouldn’t constantly remind us of that fact through his behavior and utterances.

  4. aceshigh11 - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:59 PM

    And that’s why Vin Scully rules, and will always rule.

    “Little roller up along first…BEHIND THE BAG!”

  5. misterj167 - Aug 29, 2013 at 1:11 PM

    There are still some good announcers out there, Uke with the Brewers, Don Sutton of the Braves to name a couple. The problem is, most of the TV announcers belong to FOX Sports, and like the blonde bimbos that permeate FOX news, you can’t tell either of these guys apart. I was watching an game a while back from the Brewers TV crew (Uke is on radio I believe), and they spent more time hawking local promotions than actually talking about the game itself. It was pretty infuriating.

    The other day I watched a rerun of game six of the 1986 WS, the famous Mets comeback, announced by Vin Scully and the great Joe Garagiola, and after the infamous Bucker play, there wasn’t a word from either for a good fine minutes, just sounds and shots of the crowd going wild and replays. Good announcers learn when to keep their mouths shut.

    I should add, I grew up spoiled on some of the greatest announcing teams ever: Ralph Kiner, Bob Murphy, and Lindsey Nelson with the Mets, and then Skip Caray, Ernie Johnson and Pete Van Weiren with the Braves. So if I’m a little jaded with announcers now (particularly Chip Caray, who is so shrill he makes me loathe watching Braves highlights), it’s because of that.

    • misterj167 - Aug 29, 2013 at 1:12 PM


      I can spell for the most part, it’s my typing that sucks!

  6. alexo0 - Aug 29, 2013 at 1:11 PM

    I’d like to bastardize one of Chass’s quotes in order to make a statement about him:

    “…a new age of older fans who resent their earlier arrival to the game and are trying to impede its progress.”

  7. losangelesfan - Aug 29, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    I grew up listening to Vin Scully and Chick Hearn. It’s rough listening to other broadcasters. I’m spoiled rotten.

    • warpd - Aug 29, 2013 at 7:29 PM

      I love those guys, but I grew up listening to Ernie Harwell and would argue I had it just as good if not better than you! Either way we were both lucky to have them.

  8. Bob Loblaw - Aug 29, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    Comparing an announcer’s feelings about something to a writer’s feelings about something is like comparing apples to oranges. One man is paid to give his opinions and the other is paid to talk about what he sees happening live. Sure, Scully could do something different when he is being interviewed, but why would he? Chass is writing the article and, whether you agree or disagree, he isn’t being paid to just say “Well, to each his/her own, but I don’t use the Sabremetrics” He’s paid to say exactly what he thinks.

    Scully is the best there ever has been. I had the pleasure of listening to the great Harry the K and he is the only one I would ever rather listen to than Scully.

    • paperlions - Aug 29, 2013 at 3:14 PM

      Except, of course, there are precious few announcers that don’t spend the entire broad cast giving you their opinions rather than talking about the game…including, in general, an endless string of opinions about advanced statistical analysis in baseball.

      • Bob Loblaw - Aug 30, 2013 at 9:26 AM

        That may be true, but this particular article was a comparison between Scully and Chass, not Scully and the rest of the announcers. So your post is making the same mistake that Craig did…comparing apples to oranges. Again, my point here is that this article is just looking to take a shot at Chass, who definitely deserves all the shots he takes, but it doesn’t make any sense because it is comparing a writer to an announcer.

  9. ezthinking - Aug 29, 2013 at 1:50 PM

    Vin is great; but he makes as many fuck ups during the game as the next guy.

    “Great slider there on the outside corner.” TV shows it was 95 on the inside half.

  10. yankeepunk3000 - Aug 29, 2013 at 1:53 PM

    hostile and disapproving? sounds like my dad! Anyways I’m a yank fan and vin will always be THE announcer no one will come close. the last non biased announcer you can listen too. How unbiased is he? Announces for the dodgers for 60 plus years favorite player all time Giants great Willie Mays. He’s just a legend simple as that

  11. rickdobrydney - Aug 29, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    I will get killed for this, but because my entire life I have loathed everthing the Dodgers stood for (and that includes La-La Land and that whole west coast scene), I have never warmed up to Scully. I resepect him and his longevity, but I just have never been a big Scully fan. It might very well be an east coast bias — I could never get with his laid back LA approach to a game. Back in the late 50’s and 60’s when the Yankees would be in the Series, I would turn off the TV sound and listen to the radio call of the game when Scully was on —- That’s just me — Sorry for being the only person on the face of planet Earth who is not praising Vin Scully—-

    • clydeserra - Aug 29, 2013 at 3:51 PM

      Its a matter of taste sure. Some people don’t like Chocolate. its fine you are not wrong for your opinion.

      But he is from Brooklyn, not LA.

  12. wheels579 - Aug 29, 2013 at 2:16 PM

    Scully’s favorite player was Mel Ott.

  13. cur68 - Aug 29, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    I read somewhere (and can’t be bothered to look it up right now) that musical tastes are set by the time one reaches their mid-30’s (and by “one” I mean “White Male” since women and minorities didn’t exist back when most of these studies were carried out). Along with that comes one’s preferences for certain things: sports, cars, clothes, etc. So, if you want to know the era a person’s preferences, ask them about their musical tastes.

    Also in that study was an interesting note about those who remain creative, vital, and relevant well into their old age. It seems their musical tastes never really set. They like all sorts of stuff. Classical, modern, rap, pan-pipe, maybe even accordion music (I mean, SOMEONE has to, right?). Along with that comes an embracing of new technologies, analysis and techniques. These people tend to have certain things in common.

    Now, at the risk of my lousy memory getting this wrong, here is what I can recall of these old creative bastards:
    -contentious but good relationship with their father
    -middle child
    -well & widely travelled
    -well & widely educated

    Anyone know where Scully & Chass sit with those?

  14. woodenulykteneau - Aug 29, 2013 at 2:32 PM

    I’m curious as to how such a great reporter and baseball historian failed to notice that Branch Rickey had folks doing statistical analysis in the early 1930s, i.e. before Chass was born?

  15. Marty McKee - Aug 29, 2013 at 2:35 PM

    Technically, game telecasts are better than ever. Who would argue that? But I don’t think the same holds true about game announcers. Play-by-play guys are generally either colorless and dull (and bow to their king, Joe Buck) or braying imbeciles (take a bow, Hawkeroo). The color guys are always ex-athletes (why?) and generally have little idea of what they’re talking about (hellooooooo, Timmy!).

    Obviously, there are exceptions. I hate the Cubs, but begrudgingly admit Kasper/Deshaies are very good (I liked Brenly too). The Mets and Giants have good broadcasting teams too. Usually, though, if I turn on a game on, I couldn’t tell you who the announcers are, because they are mostly homogenous boors.

    I’m a Reds fan, so take it how you will, but Chris Welsh generally does a nice job. He’s bright, witty, informative, seems genuinely curious about sabermetrics, but not expert in them. His usual partner, Thom Brennaman, is a nitwit. George Grande is gee-whiz likable, but not terribly interesting. I like when he teams with Jim Kelch, however (why the Reds have a zillion different combos is beyond me). Of course, “The Cowboy,” Jeff Brantley, is a joke and seems to be trying to fill Nuxhall’s shoes with schtick.

    My fave national announcing duo: Costas/Kubek.

  16. yahmule - Aug 29, 2013 at 2:53 PM

    The Rockies announcers do a pretty nice job, not that anybody listens to them. They are incredibly even handed, which is mystifying since the Monforts generally tend to surround themselves with yes men and toadies.

  17. 22yearsagotoday - Aug 29, 2013 at 3:21 PM

    Curt Gowdy was always a pleasure to listen to, like Scully.

  18. largebill - Aug 29, 2013 at 4:42 PM

    Every announcer has their positives and negatives. With Scully the first thing that comes to mind is just the smooth, distinctive voice. The Costner film For the Love of the Game which was part baseball movie & part chick flick was vastly improved by having Scully do all the in game announcing.

    As an Indians fan I’ve grown to love Tom Hamilton work on the radio. However, as much as I enjoy his enthusiasm for the game and good clear enunciation, he has a really annoying habit of calling fly balls in such a way the listener is convinced it’s gone just to finish seconds later by saying which outfielder caught the ball. Not sure if he has difficulty telling how well a ball was hit, but it happens a lot.

  19. elwaysmilehighdenver - Aug 29, 2013 at 5:54 PM

    I put Mr. Scully right up there with the Tigers great Ernie Harwell.

  20. sportsfan69 - Aug 29, 2013 at 10:18 PM

    Reds announcers are the best. Thom Bremannan and The Cowboy are great. Informative and entertaining. At least a couple good laughs each game, each night. The critics need to get a life. Go Reds!

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. C. Correa (2554)
  2. G. Stanton (2516)
  3. H. Ramirez (2499)
  4. G. Springer (2489)
  5. B. Crawford (2312)
  1. M. Teixeira (2290)
  2. H. Pence (2219)
  3. J. Baez (2210)
  4. J. Hamilton (2167)
  5. Y. Puig (2113)