Category Archives: Dodgers History

Happy 90th Birthday Vin Scully

90 years ago, a baby was born in The Bronx, New York. His parents named him Vincent Edward Scully. Nobody would have suspected anything different about this baby. On October 2, 1936, little Vin was walking down the street when he passed a Chinese laundry store. He passed this store almost every day but this time, he noticed the box score from the World Series hung on the window.

“As I walked by, I stopped to look. The Yankees beat the Giants, 18-4, and I remember looking at it and I felt so sad for the Giants,” Vin Said. “So I became, that instant, a rabid Giants fan.”

We can forgive him for this because he became a Dodger fan when he got a job broadcasting with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was twenty-two when he landed the job.

Scully’s career was amazing. 67 years of calling Dodger games, football games, golf tournaments, and even hosting a talk show. Through all of this, however, he kept calling Dodger games. Over his 67 years with the club, he witnessed and even felt the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

Vin’s Greatest Calls:

This is perhaps his most famous call ever. And why not? He was the reason that Gibson ever decided to play that day. Gibson was in the clubhouse watching the game when Vin commented that he wouldn’t be playing that day, or the rest of the series. As you can clearly see, Gibson’s legs were injured and he could barely walk. Well, when Kirk heard that, he told Tommy Lasorda that he wanted to pinch hit. Tommy let him and the rest is history.

Another one of Vin’s most famous calls. When Bill Buckner booted a routine ground ball, giving the Mets a win in game six of the World Series.

There are many more great calls by this Dodger legend. I have a page on this blog dedicated to them. Click here to view more of his amazing calls.

The Top Five All-Time Players From LA

Who are the best Major League Baseball Players who up in Los Angeles? MLB.com listed the top five players who grew up in the Los Angeles area. They were not all born here, but most of them lived in Los Angeles during High School. MLB.com ranked the players primarily by WAR, but also used accomplishments and Hall of Fame Status. So now, here is the list of the top five players who grew up in Los Angeles.

 Walter Johnson

Position: Pitcher
Bats: Right, Throws: Right
Height: 6′ 1″, Weight: 200 lbs.

Walter JohnsonWalter Johnson was the second of six children born to Frank and Minnie Johnson. He was born in Kansas, but moved to Los Angeles while he was still young. He attended Fullerton Union High School, which stands only blocks away from where Angels Stadium is now located. Johnson signed as a free-agent with the Washington Senators in 1907, at age 19. He exceeded expectations as a rookie, impressing many. Johnson was a 2-time MVP, and is the all-time leader in shutouts. At the time of his retirement, Johnson held all-time records in nearly every possible way. He was a three-time Triple Crown Winner, six time wins champion and twelve-time strikeouts champion. Johnson also had five ERA titles. In 1936, Johnson was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. You can read more about Walter Johnson at sabr.org or baseballhall.org. For more information about Johnson’s statistics, visit baseball-reference.com.

Jackie Robinson

Positions: Second Baseman, Third Baseman, First Baseman
Bats: Right, Throws: Right
Height: 5′ 11″, Weight: 195 lbs.

JrobinsonJackie Robinson is perhaps one of the most famous players in the history of baseball. Everyone knows him as the man who broke the color barrier in baseball. On April 15, 1947, Robinson made his major league debut at Ebbits Field in Brooklyn. Robinson overcame many challenges in his career, including teammates refusing to play with him. Robinson received the Rookie of the Year Award in 1947, and was elected as the National League MVP in 1949. Robinson was a 6 time all-star, and was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. Robinson’s number was retired league-wide in 1997, and is worn league-wide on his birthday every year. You can read more about Jackie Robinson at  Jackierobinson.com or baseballhall.org. For more information about Robinson’s statistics, visit baseball-reference.com.

George Brett

Positions: Third Baseman, First Baseman
Bats: Left, Throws: Right
Height: 6′ 0″, Weight: 185 lbs.

George Brett 1990 CROPGeorge Brett is a Royals franchise leader in many areas, and is also #16 on the all-time hits list with 3,154 hits. Brett was an expert at hitting line drives, which is what likely helped him collect so many hits. Brett was picked by the Royals in the second round of the 1971 draft. Brett needed only two years in the minor leagues before he was called up to the big club in 1973. He exceeded expectations in his rookie year, with a batting average of .282. Overall, Brett collected 3,154 hits, 13 All-Star appearances and 3 Silver Slugger Awards. He leads the Royals in hits, runs, doubles, triples, home runs, RBI’s, walks and WAR. Brett was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999. You can read more about George Brett at baseballhall.org. For more information about Brett’s statistics, visit baseball-reference.com.

Tony Gwynn

Position: Right Fielder
Bats: Left, Throws: Left
Height: 5′ 11″, Weight: 185 lbs.

Tony GwynnTony Gwynn was a star in Major League Baseball for 20 seasons, the entire time with the Padres. Gwynn grew up a basketball star in near Los Angeles, but he decided to play baseball instead. The Padres drafted Gwynn in the third round of the amateur draft in 1981. The Padres were not the only team interested in him, however, the Los A, ngeles Clippers also drafted him to play basketball, but luckily for the Padres, Gwynn decided he would rather play baseball. The fifteen-time All-Star, five-time Gold Glove Award winner, seven-time Silver Slugger, eight-time NL batting champion, and franchise leader in batting average, hits, doubles, triples, and stolen bases, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007. You can read more about Tony Gwynn at baseballhall.org. For more information about Gwynn’s statistics, visit baseball-reference.com.

Eddie Murray

Position: First Baseman
Bats: Both, Throws: Right
Height: 6′ 2″, Weight: 190 lbs.

Rickey Henderson and Eddie Murray, 1983Eddie Murray holds the Major League record for the most games played at first base, 2,413. Murray was the AL Rookie of the Year Award winner, eight-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner, three-time Silver Slugger, 1983 World Series champion. Murray was also looked up to by his teammates, particularly Cal Ripken Jr. Ripken said of Murray, “When I got to the big leagues, there was a man – Eddie Murray – who showed me how to play this game, day in and day out. I thank him for his example.” You can read more about Eddie Murray at baseballhall.org. For more information about Murray’s statistics, visit baseball-reference.com.

The Worst Stadium

The Dodgers have called a total of 3 different stadiums home, but none was worse than the Los Angeles Coliseum. When the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, their stadium had not been built yet, so they were forced to move into the Los Angeles Coliseum. The Coliseum was built for track and field in the 1932 Olympics, so major modifications needed to be made before it could be used for baseball. Dugouts had to be constructed, light structures had to be built, screens had to be installed, and a press box had to be added. They also added a fence in right field so that the fans would not be so far away from the field.

The first major league baseball game played at the Coliseum was played on April 18, 1958, between the Dodgers and Giants. Carl Erskine was the starting pitched for the Dodgers, and Al Worthington was the Giants’ starter. The box scores from the game are as follows:

R H E
Giants 5 12 2
Dodgers 6 8 2

GIANTS BATTING

DODGERS BATTING

GIANTS PITCHING

DODGERS PITCHER

Vin Scully moved with the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, where he was really loved. Because of the shape of the coliseum, many of the fans could not see the game very well, so they brought radios with them. Few people listened to the games outside of the coliseum, but you could hear the radios inside. Vin would tell jokes and the fans would laugh, and he would give play-by-play of the game. The Dodgers played at the coliseum for 4 years, until Dodger Stadium opened. The players and the fans love Dodger Stadium much more than the coliseum, because it was designed for baseball. Currently, the Los Angeles Rams play at the coliseum, and it works much better for football.

Fernando Valenzuela

It is June 29, 1990. You are at Dodger Stadium in the ninth inning. The opposing team is the St. Louis Cardinals. The box score for the game reads as follows:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Cardinals 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3

Dodgers

1 0 0 0 1 1 2 1 6 12 1

This is clearly a special day for the left-handed pitcher Fernando Valenzuela, but he still needs three more outs. Vince Coleman leads off the ninth inning. Valenzuela works to a 2-2 count, then strikes out Coleman looking. The crowd goes wild. Willie McGee, who has hit Valenzuela hard in the past, steps into the batters box. Valenzuela falls behind in the count, 3-0, the crowd falls silent. The next pitch is low and inside, McGee is awarded first base, and the crowd does not make any noise. Pedro Guerrero now has a chance to break up the no-hitter. Guerrero fouls the first pitch down the third base line, then he swings and misses on the next pitch. There is finally some noise in the crowd they are chanting, “Pedro! Pedro!” This is not cheering for him, but instead to get under his skin.

Guerrero hits the ball past the mound, and Jaun Samuel picks it up. He steps on second base and throws to first, a double play! The crowd goes wild! It is 10:17 in the evening. “If you have a sombrero, throw it to the sky,” Vin Scully says and Dodgers swarm the field and excited fans celebrate in the stands. The final box score follows:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Cardinals 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3

Dodgers

1 0 0 0 1 1 2 1 X 6 12 1

FERN ANDO VALENZUELA

Fernando Valenzuela, the youngest of 12 children, was born on November 11, 1960 in Navojoa, Mexico. There is really no information about his childhood, but I do know that he grew up in Mexico.

Valenzuela started his professional career in 1977 when he signed with the Mayos de Navojoa. During this time, many MLB teams scouted Valenzuela and the Dodgers acquired him when he was 19 years old. The young lefty made his major league debut when he was 20 years old, in 1980. Valenzuela was the opening day starter for the Dodgers in 1981, his rookie season. He started the season with a record of 8-0 and an ERA of 0.50. He finished his rookie season with a record of 13-7 in 25 starts. He tallied 11 complete games in his rookie year, something that no rookie would do anymore. He finished his rookie year with 8 shutouts.

It was another decade though, before he threw his famous no-hitter. His no-hitter came in his final year with the Dodgers. The no-hitter came on June 29, 2016, against the St. Louis Cardinals. The game lasted for only 2 hours and 41 minutes, but I’m sure it felt like a lifetime to the 30 year old pitcher.

Fernando Valenzuela spent his final 7 years in the major leagues scattered across various teams. On August 23, 2003, Valenzuela was inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. He is now the play-by-play commentator on SportsNet LA Spanish. So if you can understand Spanish, or if you just want to learn, tune into SNLA Spanish and listen to Fernando Valenzuela.

Vin’s Press Box

I know that I wrote about Vin Scully on last week’s post, but I wanted to write about the Vin Scull Press Box this week. The name of the press box may seem familiar to you, but there are some facts about the booth that you may not know.

  1. Vin Scully did not do the play-by-play in the Vin Scully Press Box. Instead, the Vin Scully Press Box is where the official scorer, statistician, the media, and other sit.
  2. Vin Scully initially refused to allow the Dodgers to change the Dodgers Press Box to the Vin Scully Press Box. He said, “I am a member of the press, I must be unbiased.” The Dodgers finally convinced him that after being the Dodgers announcer for 55+ years (he retired after 67), that everyone knew he’s a Dodger fan.

imageIf you ever visit the Vin Scully Press Box, which would likely be on a Tour of Dodger Stadium, I went on the Clubhouse Tour and wrote about it here, you will likely notice a few things about the press box. First of all, it is very large, much to large for one play-by-play announcer, and it is full of tables and chairs. Another thing you will quickly notice, is that there is nowhere in the booth that you can stand and be directly behind home plate. The picture on the right shows what I am talking about. That special spot is the one where Vin Scully sat for the Dodger home games. It is located on the opposite side of the wall on the left of the Press Box. The Vin Scully Press Box has a great view, and there are many other things about it, but I will save that for another post. You can also hear these stories if you take a tour of Dodger Stadium, I would highly recommend it.

The Legacy of Ralph Branca

Ralph Branca’s number has not been retired by the Dodgers. His face will most likely never be found on a Hall of Fame plaque. So you may wonder why I am writing a special article about this man. There is one thing that he has been remembered for, he was on the pitching end of “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World.” What is this shot? This shot was hit in 1951 by Bobby Thompson at the Polo Grounds.

Tom Verducci, a report for MLB Network, said of Branca, “In some ways, Stan, we associate with him obviously giving up the home run to Bobby Thompson. But more importantly, I really think that Nationally he tough us how to lose.” Now this doesn’t sound very nice, but Verducci went on to say, “And for him to fail in that moment, give credit to Thompson obviously to hit it out, but the way he handled defeat, I mean right away he faced up to the fact that he didn’t get the job done. He went on television that winter and was singing songs about it.” This showed that Branca knew how to be a good sport, no matter the circumstance.

Until 2010, when Thompson died, the two of them were strong friends. Although the nation didn’t notice the friendship between Branca and Thompson, they saw Branca singing songs about the loss on TV. Branca’s songs showed the nation what true sportsmanship is.

“One of the greatest guys to ever throw a pitch or sing a song is longer with us. Ralph Branca Passed this morning.”

That is the way that Ralph’s son-in-law Bobby Valentine announced the death of his father-in-law. I do not know what caused the 90-year-old’s death, but I am sure that the reason was not due to sadness over giving up the home run. This whole country will miss this great man.