Going Like 88

By Lloyd Graff

Vin Scully, play-by-play announcer for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Baseball is more than just a game for me. It is woven into the fabric of my life. When I was about to be wheeled into heart surgery 6.5 years ago my entire immediate family regaled me with “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” for encouragement before being pushed into the operating room.

When Harry Caray, the great Cubs announcer, died, Noah and I journeyed to Wrigley Field to place baseball memorabilia at his makeshift memorial.

As Garrett Morris used to say on Saturday Night Live, “Baseball’s been berra berra good to me.”

A couple days ago I had the privilege to hear Vin Scully do the Los Angeles Dodgers versus San Diego Padres game. Scully has been broadcasting for 66 years. At the age of 88 he sounds great and his knowledge and recall seemed right on. I was thrilled to hear him, but I couldn’t just listen to the play-by-play. I wanted to vet him, to see if he was all there, if he had lost something.

I do this with older people. I don’t want them slipping and holding on with their fingernails to former glory. I did it with Ronald Reagan when I had a sense he was losing it in his second term, but I didn’t want to believe it. I did it with my own father as I saw him fade physically. Thankfully he kept his mental faculties until he died, but I was always searching for signals of diminishment.

One of the hurtful things about aging for me is not just the sagging skin and aching joints, but the fear of not being on my game, mentally.

I feel solid in every way except one – name recall. I know it has slipped a tad in recent years. More than I want to admit, a person’s name will elude me for a few seconds as I urgently search my mental desktop for a clue to retrieve the name I seek.

So when Vin Scully flawlessly went through the lineups it was reassuring. Scully goes back to Jackie Robinson, Roy Campenella, Duke Snider and Gil Hodges. He was mentored by Red Barber who did radio in the 1930s.

Scully grew up in the Bronx, solidly Irish and Roman Catholic. His father sold silk in the garment district, which seems beautifully appropriate with his silky dulcet tones. He graduated  from Fordham in 1949 where he played center field on the baseball team and did football play-by-play on the school radio station. He sent out 150 letters looking for a radio job after college and found one live job in Washington DC. His big break came after doing an NFL game when the press box was filled. He broadcasted the game from the stadium rooftop in freezing weather without a hat and coat. He never indicated that he was cold in the broadcast. Red Barber was particularly impressed with his performance and the fact that he never injected his personal feeling into the play-by-play. It launched his career.

The beauty of Vin Scully is that he found his perfect career and then spent his life perfecting his work.

I don’t root for the Dodgers, but I love the wonderful delivery of Scully, the consummate pro who just keeps on going and going and gives me hope for my future.

Question: Would you like to work until you’re 88?

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9 thoughts on “Going Like 88

  1. AvatarRICK DETMERS

    Lloyd:
    Getting older ain’t for sissies as my
    grandfather would always say. I could only hope that i’m
    still around at 88, and to be working and being productive
    in my golden years would be even more of a blessing. My
    memory especially with names is also slipping somewhat.
    I just keep pushing on trying my best, and am grateful to
    be using my talents along with being in pretty good health.
    GOD BLESS YOU

     
    +1
  2. AvatarJack

    I would like to have the option to keep working. Will I? I doubt it. Haven’t had a real vacation since 98, there are things I want to do before I check out.

    I can’t remember names worth a darn. Get introduced to someone and forget their name just like that.

     
    +3
  3. AvatarArt Santana

    You know Lloyd? only if I was doing THAT job. Contrary to you, I bleed Dodger blue, I moved out of LA 20 years ago and the thing I miss most about is listening to Vin making the players from all teams not just Dodgers; come alive with the many anecdotes about the players that he is so good at bringing up at the right time. I got a kick out of the sound bite that they put on sports radio here about the game 2 nights ago when Vin just said “and the score is: we should say Adrian Gonzales 6 and the Padres 3” after he hit his third homer of the night. Priceless indeed.

     
  4. AvatarBrian

    I have given retirement a thought now and then. Retirement? I have a boat I use for about a fortnight’s fishing every year, but I’d sooner be working on Wickman’s!
    By the way, why do they sing take me out to the ball game, when they’re already there?0

     
    +1
  5. AvatarMisterchipster

    Don’t think I will make it that far but the co-founder of this company (1947) still stops in everyday to check how things are going, drop off the mail and run errands at 92. He is still mentally on top of his game. I can only hope to be as mentally sharp as he is if I even get to that age! His life is and has been this company, it’s employees and customers.

     
  6. AvatarVictor

    No I don’t work until I am 88. I want and will work until the day that I die. If I stop working, I will drive everybody around me NUTS.
    Think about it.

     
  7. AvatarBryan Crowner

    a wise man said: love what you do and you will never have to work a day in your life. So why stop now?

     
    +1
  8. AvatarDick Crosby

    People ask me “Crosby! When are you going to retire?” My answer. “When I hit the wall!”
    I love this business! Get to BS with, and sometimes even sell something, to guys and gals all over this country and Canada. Like Victor, I can’t imagine not having enough stuff on my mind to keep a day busy. I don’t get up as early (now 8 to 9), and my interests have changed to include being really concerned about the direction of this insane world and our governments at all levels. Also, playing the stock market in my clumsy way. Anyway,
    “The Lord takes care of used machinery dealers, and all the other dumb animals!”
    Amen! To racking my brain for a name every once in a while. Damn!

     

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