I was driving up I-95 on Tuesday night when it suddenly occurred to me: The Dodgers!
I have XM satellite radio, you see, and one of the great benefits, in addition to all the great music --- I really couldn't function without XM --- is the fact that you get every major league baseball game, all season.
Each team's entire home schedule is on an XM channel. Through this experience, I have become a huge fan of San Diego announcer Ted Leitner and White Sox announcer Ed Farmer, each wonderful in a totally different way. But at that moment I was thinking about the One and Only Vin Scully. I tuned in, and, sure enough, he was doing the first three innings of the Dodgers-Mets game. Solo. No color man. No banter with a partner. Just pure Vin Scully.
Vin Scully is 79. His famous voice is just about intact. The least you can say about its strength and timber is that it sounds like someone doing a pretty good imitation of Vin Scully. At his peak, of course, he was The Man, the Greatest of All-Time. His description of the ninth inning of the 1965 Sandy Koufax perfect game against the Cubs has been famously printed as literature. It is beyond perfect. I have it in my copy of "The Fireside Book of Baseball." You will be thanking me if you go out of your way to find it. (Editor's note: You can read Scully's call here and listen to it here.)
Now in these three innings he was not great. He was fine, but not great. He got to call back-to-back-to-back homers by 7-8-9 guys Wilson Betemit, Matt Kemp and pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo.
He did the job, is what I'm saying. But he didn't knock your socks off. At first.
Then Juan Pierre hit one inside the first base bag and the foul line. And here is Vin Scully ... "There's a rabbit on the loose! (pause) ... and there's a belly-flop into third!"
C'mon, how cool is that?
Vin Scully started broadcasting Brooklyn Dodger games in 1950.
Did you digest that? 1950. That was a year before Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle made their major league debuts. 1950. He is in Year 57, and while he no longer does much (if any) traveling he is still a viable announcer.
It occurred to me to play the "Degrees of Separation" game with Vin Scully. I went back to 1950 to see just whose games he was calling. One of the Cubs whose games he worked was Phil Cavaretta. He made his Big League debut in 1934, so right away, with one degree of separation, we have Vin Scully linked to someone playing baseball 73 years ago.
I decided to take it just one step farther. One of Phil Cavaretta's teammates on the 1934 Cubs was Charlie (Jolly Chollie) Grimm, who made his own big league debut with the 1916 Cubs. Now we've got Vin Scully, an active major league broadcaster in the year 2007, linked with just two degrees of separation to a man who broke into major league baseball 91 years ago.
It was almost even better than that. One active player in 1950 was a Pirates backup catcher named Ray Mueller. He had broken into the Bigs with the Boston Braves in 1935. Two other Braves players that year of were --- are you ready? --- Babe Ruth and fellow Hall of Famer Rabbit Maranville, each in his final season. Now Mueller played in 40 games. Ruth played in 20. Maranville played in 23. The two vets did not finish the season. I don't know for sure when Mueller joined the club, so I don't know if their stints overlapped. Mueller could have been a late-season call-up.
If they did, well, Ruth was a rookie in 1914 and Maranville was a rookie in 1912. If anyone really cares, I'll try to research this at some later date.
Until then, we can state with certainty that, with just two degrees of separation, we have an active broadcaster among us who has connective baseball tissue to someone who played in the 1916 season.
I find that stunning. How about you?