“Vin Scully’s death marks the end of an era,” said Tania Tetlow, president of Fordham. “As members of the Fordham family, we grieve the loss of a wise and decent man who always spoke to our better natures—on the field and off. I know the University and WFUV communities join me in keeping Vin’s loved ones in our hearts and prayers today.”
Sometimes called the “Velvet Voice,” the iconic broadcaster was known for his elegant and evocative yet plainspoken approach to broadcasting. Listeners felt like they were joining a friend each broadcast as Scully welcomed them in with his usual greeting: “Hi everybody, and a very pleasant good evening to you, wherever you may be.”
“We have lost an icon,” Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten said in a statement. “The Dodgers’ Vin Scully was one of the greatest voices in all of sports. He was a giant of a man, not only as a broadcaster, but as a humanitarian. He loved people. He loved life. He loved baseball and the Dodgers. And he loved his family. His voice will always be heard and etched in all of our minds forever.”
Michael Kay, FCRH ’82, voice of the Yankees for YES Network, wrote in a statement that we “lost the greatest broadcaster who ever lived.”
“Every game was a master’s class as he turned an inning into poetry. And as great as he was, he was just as nice. Class, elegance and grace were all part of his humble but regal being,” Kay wrote. “His loss is heartbreaking as his golden voice is silenced, but he will live forever as an example of what to try and be on and off mic. RIP Mr. Scully and rest easy knowing how much you made a difference to all who met you and had the joy of listening to you.”
In a career spanning seven decades, Scully voiced some of the most historic calls in the game, including Don Larsen’s and Sandy Koufax’s perfect games in 1956 and 1965, respectively; Hank Aaron’s 715th career home run to break the record set by Babe Ruth; and Kirk Gibson’s walk-off home run in the 1988 World Series.
He received numerous awards throughout his career including an induction into the broadcasters’ wing of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982 and a Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2016.
“The game of baseball has a handful of signature sounds,” President Obama said at the White House ceremony in 2016. “You hear the crack of the bat, you got the crowd singing in the seventh-inning stretch, and you’ve got the voice of Vin Scully.”
Scully’s career began at Fordham’s Rose Hill campus. He graduated in 1949 and is known as the “patron saint” of WFUV Sports, getting his start at the radio station as a student at Fordham College at Rose Hill. His work has inspired generations of students to become sports broadcasters.
He received an honorary doctorate from Fordham in 2000 after giving the commencement address and a lifetime achievement award from WFUV that is now named in his honor. Scully was inducted into the University’s Hall of Honor in 2011.
Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president emeritus of Fordham, called Scully one of Fordham’s “greatest heroes” as he awarded Scully with the Ram of the Year award in 2014.
“From the heart, I want you to know you are for Fordham an example of a man for others, a man whose life has been a life of integrity, of service, of great devotion to the University,” Father McShane said at the ceremony. “You could not be a better ambassador for us. Everyone at Fordham loves you as much as we revere you.”
Bob Ahrens, who worked as the WFUV Sports director for 20 years before his retirement in 2017, worked with Scully for years through the station.
“He loved Fordham, he loved FUV,” Ahrens said. “He was a Fordham guy through and through. He had a love for the school. He always wanted to know how the teams were doing.”
The Early Years
Scully was born in the Bronx after his parents immigrated from Ireland. He grew up in Washington Heights before he attended Fordham Preparatory School. He graduated in 1944 and served briefly in the Navy before returning to Rose Hill to study communications.
At Fordham, Scully had a sports column in The Fordham Ram student newspaper, worked as a stringer for The New York Times, and sang in the Shaving Mugs, a campus barbershop quartet. He also briefly played outfield for the Fordham baseball team.
When he gave the commencement address at Fordham in 2000, Scully told the graduates that the words he associated with Fordham were “home, love, and hope.”
“Home, because I spent eight years here on this campus, and it really was my second home. Love, because I loved every minute of it, and some of my closest and dearest friends in all the world were my classmates and teammates. And hope, hope came from a five-letter word called a dream,” he told the students.
Scully told the graduates that “I am one of you.”
“I walked the halls you walked. I sat in the same classrooms,” he told the graduates. “I took the same notes and sweated out the final exams; drank coffee in the café and played sports on your grassy fields.”
But Scully’s favorite place to be was behind the microphone. He called Fordham baseball, basketball, and football games for WFUV, 90.7 FM, which launched in 1947. In a 2020 documentary for WFUV Sports, Scully joked that he would call games to himself while playing in the outfield.
“I used to be so thrilled by the roar of the crowd that first, I loved the roar. Then I wanted to be there, and eventually I thought I would love to be the announcer doing the game,” he said in the documentary.
When Scully received the Ram of the Year award in 2014, he recalled sitting in the Fordham Prep auditorium next to his classmate Larry Miggins.
“We were talking about what we hoped to do when we finished school,” Scully said after accepting the award. “Larry said, ‘I’d love to be a major league ballplayer,’ and I said, ‘I’d love to be a major league broadcaster.’ And we both kind of chuckled.”
Scully recalled how a few years later, on May 13, 1952, he was behind the mic in the broadcast booth at Ebbets Field when Miggins came to bat for the Cardinals.
“It was so hard to speak. The Dodgers had a left-handed pitcher named Preacher Roe from Ash Flat, Arkansas. Preacher Roe was going to face my buddy Larry Miggins, and I’m going to describe whatever happens,” Scully said. “And Larry Miggins hit a home run.”
The Voice of the Dodgers
After graduating from Fordham, Scully spent the summer working at a CBS radio affiliate in Washington, D.C., before he returned to New York to speak with the network about working there. Just a few days later, he received a call from Red Barber, the legendary CBS sports director and broadcaster, asking him to cover a college football game that Saturday.
In less than a year, Scully joined Barber on what were then the Brooklyn Dodgers’ broadcasts. When Barber left to work for the Yankees following the 1953 season, Scully became the Dodgers’ primary announcer, a position he held until he retired in 2016.
During his long career, Scully recorded some of the most memorable calls in baseball history. He had been in the Dodgers job for less than five years when Don Larsen took the mound in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series and pitched a perfect game, the only one in a World Series.
“Got him! The greatest game ever pitched in baseball history by Don Larsen, a no-hitter, a perfect game in a World Series. Never in the history of the game has it ever happened in a World Series,” Scully said on the broadcast.
Less than 10 years later, Scully would be behind the mic for another perfect game, this time with Sandy Koufax on the mound. Scully’s call of the last inning featured his descriptive, evocative style.
“And there are 29,000 people in the ballpark, and a million butterflies,” he said, after the first batter.
As Koufax was one out away from a perfect game, Scully said, “I would think that the mound at Dodger Stadium right now is the loneliest place in the world.”
In 1974, the Dodgers traveled to Atlanta and faced Hank Aaron, who was one home run away from breaking Babe Ruth’s record of 714 career home runs. In the fourth inning, Aaron stepped up to the plate and made history, with Scully behind the mic.
“It’s a high drive into deep left center field, Buckner goes back to the fence, it is gone!” Scully called before letting the crowd take the mic for almost 30 seconds of celebration.
He then remarked on the historic achievement: “What a marvelous moment for baseball. What a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia. What a marvelous moment for the country and the world. A Black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol and it is a great moment for all of us.”
Bill Buckner, who almost caught that home run, would be at the heart of another famous—or infamous—Scully call.
Now playing first base for the Red Sox, Buckner and his team were attempting to break the famous “Curse of the Bambino,” having not won a World Series since trading Babe Ruth to the Yankees after the 1919 season. In 1986, the Red Sox faced the New York Mets in the World Series, and in Game 6, the Mets’ Mookie Wilson hit what looked to be a simple ground ball down the first base line.
“Little roller up along first, behind the bag, it gets through Buckner! Here comes Knight, and the Mets win it,” he said. “If one picture is worth a thousand words, you have seen about a million.”
And in 1988, with the Dodgers in the World Series, outfielder Kirk Gibson had hurt both of his legs in the prior series and wasn’t sure if he was going to play. But with two outs in the ninth, a man on base, and the Dodgers down a run, Gibson was called on to pinch hit. He limped up to the plate, and then a miracle happened, which Scully captured poetically.
“High fly ball into right field, she is gone!” Scully said. “In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened.”
A Lasting Influence
Scully’s iconic style has made him an inspiration for many generations of sports broadcasters who followed in his footsteps at WFUV and at Fordham.
“His vocabulary, his storytelling, his personality—everything. He just was perfect,” ESPN NBA announcer Mike Breen, FCRH ’83, said in the 2020 WFUV Sports documentary. “It made you … [want]to make sure you were always prepared anytime you went on the air. You might have had two exams that day or [been]having trouble at home that day—it didn’t matter. You had to have a certain standard for WFUV that began with Vin Scully.”
Ahrens said that Scully always made time for the students and the station. The students usually interviewed him about once a year for the weekly One on One call-in show, and Ahrens said he hosted at least two workshops with the students over the phone.
“Vin’s on the phone, they can’t see him in person, and the control room is packed,” he said. “He was always generous with his time when he had it. And he didn’t have to, but he loved FUV, he loved Fordham, and he was always willing to help out.”
Ahrens remembered shortly after he took the job in 1997 he reached out to the Dodgers to try to set up a time for students to interview Scully. The Dodgers’ media team took his number and said they would try to see what they could do.
“I was in the newsroom, and we had a PA system and the [front desk manager]hops on the PA system and says, ‘Bob Ahrens, Vin Scully on the phone,’” he said, with a laugh. “You can imagine the whole newsroom turned silent.”
WFUV Sports named its lifetime achievement award after him—the Vin Scully Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports Broadcasting—which Kay took home in 2018.
“To be given an award with Vin Scully’s name on it is beyond anything I could have ever imagined,” Kay said at the awards ceremony. “He is the patron saint of WFUV Sports, he is the patron saint of anybody who does baseball play-by-play. He is the best at what he’s done.”
Ryan Ruocco, FCRH ’08, who calls Yankees games on YES and basketball games on ESPN, wrote that “Vin was truly one of one.”
“It’s impossible to put into words the impact Vin Scully has had on broadcasting, our Fordham/WFUV family, and the sport of baseball,” Ruocco wrote. “His storytelling and excellence behind the mic was matched only by his grace, generosity, and kindness.”
Scully impacted even those who didn’t step behind the microphone. Pitcher Nick Martinez, who attended the Gabelli School of Business for three years before he was drafted in the 2011 MLB draft, had the chance to meet Scully in 2015.
Martinez said he was “awestruck at first.”
“And then once we got talking, I thought it was extremely cool just being able to talk about our campus and our school, and some of the other guys that came before me. He was sharp, naming some of the guys that were on the [Fordham] team currently, and how we just had a couple guys drafted. I just thought it was extremely cool that we had that connection,” he recalled.
Mike Watts, GABELLI ’14, who calls games for ESPN, Westwood One, and other networks, said that Scully and his legacy at WFUV inspired him to come to Fordham.
“There is no WFUV Sports without Vin Scully,” Watts said. “His name gave all of us credibility. To have the greatest at anything come from your school, your radio station, your program—it’s the light that all of us were following.”