Longtime broadcaster and VSiN host Brent Musburger appeared on VSiN’s The Night Cap with Tim Murray and Adam Burke to share stories and memories of his friend and broadcasting legend Vin Scully, who died Tuesday night at the age of 94.
Tim Murray: For someone like yourself who has been in the broadcasting world for decades upon decades like Vin was, what were some of your interactions with Vin and what were some of your, I guess, most memorable memories of Vin as a broadcaster?
Brent Musburger: So many memories . . . This year, the Major League Baseball All-Star game was played in Dodger Stadium. Some 40 years ago was the last time it was played there and Vin Scully and Brent Musburger were the CBS radio broadcasters. Now, let me be perfectly honest to everybody listening. When you’re in a booth with Vin Scully, you are quiet 98% of the time. That’s how good he was. And basically, I led in and out of innings. But there was a moment in this All-Star game, and Vinny and I laughed about it for years afterwards, Steve Carlton was on the mound for the National League. He was then pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies, and I was discussing, as we came out of a commercial, how good a pick-off move he had developed. He did not have one when he first came into Major League Baseball, but he was lethal late. And at the point I’m about halfway through my sentence, he whipped the ball over the first base, picked off the runner.
And of course I’m talking and the action has a runner picked off, so I continued with the play and recorded the out. Vinny was quiet, quiet, quiet, and then picked up in that wonderful tone of his as though nothing untoward had happened. There was an out on the pick-off and the away he went. And I later said publicly, and then to him, that I’m the only person in the world who ever stole an out from the great Vin Scully. And we laughed about it for many, many years.
I would tell you that of all the broadcasters—and listen, I used to drink almost nightly with Harry Caray in Chicago and knew Phil Rizzuto well in New York. In all the great old legends of Major League Baseball, there was no one, there was no one who could describe a baseball game as well and quite like Vin Scully. He was one of a kind, and I so admired him through the years when I was a [newspaper] writer. That’s when I first met him.
And I went in from Chicago and I would talk to him in Los Angeles, and little did I know that I would soon become a broadcaster. He became a football announcer for us at CBS while I was doing the NFL Today. . . . Fans will well remember the great game that he broadcast with Hank Stram when the San Francisco 49ers and Joe Montana beat the Dallas Cowboys as Montana hit Dwight Clark in the corner of the end zone. It was his last football broadcast for us at CBS, and it was still one of the great jobs that I’ve ever heard of play-by-play announcer do.
I will also say that he was a tremendous golf announcer that nobody’s aware of. [CBS] had him at the 18th hole for a couple of years at Augusta doing the Masters, and he did a tremendous job.
He was a special, special person and there has never been a broadcaster quite like Vin Scully. And he brought Major League Baseball to Los Angeles, and he made Los Angeles a baseball town and the Dodgers revered him for it, as well they should.
I can only say it was to my benefit just to be around him a little bit and to listen to him. I used to listen to him actually in Montana, before I even was in the business. When the Dodgers first moved to Los Angeles, you could hear the signal from an LA radio station, and no one could ever describe a baseball game, quite like Vin Scully.
And I once said, “Vinny, I get very excited at times. I jump around and do this. You’re kind of low key when you describe everything and you’re eloquent. Tell me why you don’t jump up and down like the rest of us do?” And he said, “Brent, to tell you the truth, when I first started, I got very excited and screamed and yelled about a winning home run. I went back and listened to the tape and I didn’t like the sound of my voice. And I changed it after that.” And to everybody’s benefit. There was no broadcaster in the world who could do a game quite like Vin Scully and God bless him, and rest in peace my friend.
Adam Burke: In 2016, you received the Vin Scully Lifetime Achievement Award in sports broadcasting. What did that award mean to you and what Vin had to say to you about winning that award that was named in his honor?
Brent Musburger: Well, he called me and he was the one who actually told me about it. I’m kind of a gruff old Montanan, but actually he brought a tear to my eye—not because it was just another award, but because his name was attached to it. And that’s what meant so much to me. He knew that. I told him that through the years. The other thing about Vin that everybody should understand is he was a gentleman at all times. Most of us—eh, most of the time—but not all the time. Not Vinny—all the time, a classic gentleman. So it meant so much to me to win an award that his name, Vin Scully, was attached to.
Tim Murray: You mentioned the differences maybe in your styles and what stood out so well. What would you say, in the final minute or so, about Vin’s style that just made him so iconic, so different, and so—I don’t want to use this word, but it’s kind of true when you think about his calling of baseball—so perfect when he called those games.
Brent Musburger: He had a rhythm. Now, let me be perfectly clear. He had a gentleman, I believe he was a dentist, who did homework for him on the upcoming teams that were coming in. And if you listen to what Vin Scully broadcast, he had the same rhythm. The first about three innings, when a new team would come into the Dodger Stadium, or they were visiting a new team on the road before he got away from traveling with the team in his later years. But in those first three innings, he would give you a lot of anecdotal material about the opposing players, so that you knew exactly who the Dodgers were playing. Then about the fourth inning, he would get into the game and the rhythm of the game. And he would give you the highlights and he never over talked, but he always would pick out just the right statistic.
If you listen today to many of the broadcasters, especially in baseball, there are way too many numbers. I understand analytics has become part of Major League Baseball, but the reason why baseball was great through the generations, and what it’s lacking now, is you need more anecdotal material about the human beings around on the field. And Vin Scully never ever failed to tell you about the people who are playing the game, and he never missed an important statistic. But he never over-analyzed, never second-guessed, and you would never, interestingly enough, never see him down the locker room with the players. You would never see him around batting practice, like some of us a lot. Vin was somewhat aloof from the players because he knew that at times he would have to be critical of their performance on the field. A broadcaster today actually should go back and study what made Vin Scully great, because there are so many things that he did so well.