My Shot

My Shot: Vin Scully

Continued (page 2 of 3)

SANDY KOUFAX was special. For a five-year period, he was the best I ever saw. He's the only pitcher who would come to the mound and after two pitches give me the very strong impression that he might pitch a no-hitter. Not every time, but there were occasions where he'd throw a fastball I could see moving from all the way up in the booth, followed by his curve, which [catcher] John Roseboro called "the Yellow Hammer," and you knew he had a chance.

SANDY PUT ME through a lot of pain one time. He plays golf left-handed, and once I borrowed his clubs while we were on the road. He has huge hands; he can wrap his left thumb and middle finger around the equator of a baseball and nearly make them touch. So his grips were oversize. And he had gobs of lead tape on his irons. I couldn't hit these clubs at all. But I was determined and really went after one. I hurt my wrist badly on that swing and was in tremendous pain. Dr. Robert Kerlan, the Dodgers' team doctor, invited me to the dressing room for a cortisone shot. The players all gathered around; I think they wanted to see me cry. I took it like a man and said, "I'm OK." But on the drive home after the game, it felt like someone was holding a blowtorch to my wrist. I told Sandy I would never use his clubs again.

Vin Scully

Photo: AP Photo (1980)

THE CRACK of the bat in baseball is a gorgeous sound. But you don't quite get the full effect unless you're very close to the field, because the roar of the crowd often gets to you before the crack of the bat does. In golf, there is all that delicious silence, so the sound of a top pro hitting the ball is so pure. The feeling the pro gets--that sweet sensation that goes through the hands, up the arms and into the heart--the sound gives the fans a taste of that.

LEE TREVINO made a spectacular hole-in-one on the 17th hole at PGA West in 1987. Back at the Skins Game a year later, I was playing with Lee in a practice round. The flagstick was on the other side of the green. Lee took the same club--a 6-iron, as I recall--and hit the shot almost exactly where he made the ace. He looked at me, held the club up and said, "You know, Vinny, this club has the greatest memory."

BESIDES HIS Hall of Fame golf ability, Lee was blessed with a couple of other things. One was great teeth. Perfect; never had a cavity. I envied them because I've always had Irish teeth. In fact, if I were to write my autobiography--which I will never do, by the way--I would title it, My Life in Dentistry.

I HAVE A PICTURE in my mind of Payne Stewart coming down the stretch at Bay Hill in 1987 and venturing off the course to his home along the 12th hole. And picking up his young daughter and giving her a kiss. Maybe it's because I'm a family man, but that's the single image in golf that has stayed with me more than any other.

AH, THAT 1975 Masters. When Tom Weiskopf and Johnny Miller had putts on the last hole to tie Jack Nicklaus, I said at the time, "So it comes down to this..." and briefly outlined the scene as clearly as I could. At that point, I swiveled the microphone on my headset over my head, away from my mouth. I did that so I could resist the announcer's temptation to say something else. There really is nothing to say at that point. The silence as Tom and Johnny prepared to putt was profound. Thousands of people encircled 18, yet I could hear birds chirping in the trees. Not a sound from the patrons, and it was that silence that was the star. It conveyed all the tension, expectance and suspense. To me, there is nothing more magical in golf than the nothing sound of silence.

ON THE OTHER hand, silence isn't always golden. I do love the roar of the crowd, and have since I was a little boy, and would crawl under the giant radio in our living room and listen to college football games. When Hank Aaron hit the ball for his 715th home run, in Atlanta in 1974, I said, "It's gone" and nothing else. The roar literally was deafening, and I had the good sense to again remove my headset and place it on the counter. I got up and walked to the back of the booth and cooled my heels. The wait allowed me to calm down so that when I came back on--I stayed away for a minute and 40 seconds, an eternity--I'd gathered my thoughts and could say something intelligible. So when I came back on I said something to the effect of, "A black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking the record of an all-time baseball idol." I added quite a bit more, but the hero of that broadcast was the roar of the crowd.

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