Wednesday

August 23rd, 2017

Insight

Baseball's storyteller, our friend

George Will

By George Will

Published Sept. 5, 2016

Irish poets learn your trade

Sing whatever is well made. ...

-- William Butler Yeats, "Under Ben Bulben"

LOS ANGELES -- For 67 years, the son of Vincent and Bridget Scully, immigrants who came to New York City from County Cavan, Ireland, has been plying his trade. For eight years on the East Coast and 59 on the West Coast, on radio and television, he has strolled with Brooklyn Dodgers fans and then Los Angeles Dodgers fans down the long, winding road of baseball's seasons. In an era with a surfeit of shoddiness, two things are well-made -- major league baseball and Vin Scully's broadcasts of it.

Although he uses language fluently and precisely, he is not a poet. He is something equally dignified and exemplary but less celebrated: He is a craftsman. Scully, the most famous and beloved person in Southern California, is not a movie star, but has the at-ease, old-shoe persona of Jimmy Stewart. With his shock of red hair and maple syrup voice, Scully seems half his 88 years.

"[America's] most widespread age-related disease," Tom Wolfe has written, "was not senility but juvenility. The social ideal was to look 23 and dress 13." It is not Scully's fault that he looks unreasonably young. It is to his credit that he comes to work in a coat and tie, and prepared -- stocked with information.

Aristotle defined human beings as language-using creatures. They are not always as well-behaved as wolves but everything humane depends on words -- love, promise-keeping, story-telling, democracy. And baseball.

A game of episodes, not of flow, it leaves time for, and invites, conversation, rumination and speculation. And storytelling, by which Scully immerses his audience in baseball's rich history, and stories that remind fans that players "are not wind-up dolls."

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles