A baseball life: Scully auctions items from 67-year career
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Vin Scully sat outside watching two sets of his golf clubs being loaded into a truck. He thought of afternoons teeing off at Bel-Air Country Club or with President George H.W. Bush.
Those left-handed clubs had produced a lot of shots over many rounds, some good, some bad. Traipsing the fairways was a way to relax and swap stories away from the ballpark through the years. Seeing them go stirred emotion that surprised the 92-year-old Hall of Fame announcer.
“Wow, there is a chapter of my life that really hurts,” Scully told The Associated Press, “but at my age and after some physical problems, I knew I’d never be able to hold them again. I heard a door close in my life.”
Scully took a bad fall in April at the end of his driveway while retrieving the mail, breaking his nose and ribs and suffering a concession.
“It was a learning experience,” he said. “I hold on to my walker.”
He’s decided to let go in another way, though. The retired Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster has culled items from his personal collection of memorabilia for auction on Sept. 23. Internet bidding begins Friday at huntauctions.com.
The auction was originally scheduled for All-Star weekend in Los Angeles in July but was moved online when the game was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“He has such a special meaning to so many people,” said David Hunt, owner of Hunt Auctions in Exton, Pennsylvania.
Bats, balls, baseball cards, award plaques and trophies. World Series rings. The spiral-bound scorebook from his final season in 2016. They represent the physical remnants of his 67 years with the Dodgers, from Brooklyn to Los Angeles.
“I would much rather treasure the memories,” said Scully, the longest tenured broadcaster with a single team in pro sports history.
Most of the 310 lots were kept behind glass doors in a trophy cabinet at Scully’s Los Angeles-area home. Awards covered one wall in the room that visitors clamored to see.
“It’s not just a collection of cold, inanimate objects,” Scully said. “There are things that mean a great deal to me, but now it’s time to let someone else treasure them.”
Among Scully’s favorites:
— 30 lots related to U.S. presidents, including the elder Bush, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. There’s a book about Theodore Roosevelt signed by him in 1910 and given to Scully’s father, who worked in the president’s New York law office. “I’ve always thought what a trip this book has taken,” Scully said. He and Bush played college baseball against each other, Scully at Fordham and Bush at Yale. Years later, while walking off the golf course, Scully told him: “As long as you’re in the White House, you can say anything you want about your baseball career, but remember we both went 0 for 3.” Bush’s response? “He just howled,” Scully said.
— A letter from Red Barber, who recruited his fellow redhead into the Dodgers booth and mentored him. Having lost his own father at 4, Scully revered Barber. In his second year, Scully proclaimed Willie Mays as the best player he’d ever seen. Off the air, Barber told him, “Young man, you have not been around long enough to talk about the best player you’ve ever seen.” Scully recalled, “He was going to make me a good announcer or be darned.”
— Several plaques noting Scully as a finalist for national sportscaster of the year. “I put them up for humility to remind me, ‘Hey, I was in the race but I didn’t make it,’” he said. Of course, he was the winner many years.
— A “battered and bruised” scrapbook of newspaper clippings about his career from the 1950s, compiled by his mother. “She was a great red-haired lady with a terrific laugh,” he said.
— A worn brown leather folio containing his scorebooks. Inside are taped some of his favorite poems and lyrics. “A member of Bel-Air Country Club who was in the leather industry made it for me,” he said.
Scully and his wife, Sandra, plan to use some of the auction proceeds to help their five children, 16 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren with expenses that include parochial school tuition.
“It seemed to be the right time to help everybody,” he said. “We’re trying to do as much as possible before I hopefully go to heaven.”
The auction is a way to avoid the possibility of future family squabbles over keepsakes. “I didn’t want to cause bad feelings among great kids,” Scully said.
The rest of the proceeds will be donated to UCLA for neuromuscular research. Scully said his wife suffers from a condition related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the incurable disease that forced Yankees great Lou Gehrig to retire at 36.
“It’s ironic she has something like that named after Lou Gehrig,” he said.
Four years into retirement, Scully is content staying close to home. His dulcet voice is still heard at Dodger Stadium, most recently narrating a video marking the late Kobe Bryant’s birthday. Scully recorded it in one take, as seamlessly as he spun stories behind the mic for nearly 70 years.
“I can look back and enjoy it and not have any regrets,” he said.
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