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Opinion: Columnists

Vin Scully, the voice of summer

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Tomorrow's All-Star Game in Kansas City will have the balls-and-strikes called by Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, two of the finest broadcasters working today.

Buck and McCarver would no doubt agree, however, that the dean of their elite broadcasting number is the true "voice of summer," Vincent Edward "Vin" Scully, now in the middle of his 63rd year doing just that for his beloved Los Angeles Dodgers. Since 1950 and his hiring by Red Barber, Scully has been calling out "It's time for Dodger baseball," and leading Americans of all ages, races, creeds and political opinions into a few hours of pure joy.

I'm no poet of the game like George Will or Charles Krauthammer, just a mere, long-suffering Indians fan, but I have been broadcasting on radio and television for 22 years, and simply marvel at Scully's six plus decades of endurance combined with excellence.

Last week the legend joined me on air for an hour's chat about his life and career, and the outpouring of email and tweets about the man's impact on the lives of listeners was as heart-warming as it was expected. Young baseball fans grow up with certain voices in their heads. For me it was Herb Score, for others Mel Allen, By Saam, Harry Caray, Ernie Harwell or any of a dozen other legends of the microphone.

But Scully is unique, and also a uniquely American story, a poor kid in New York City who lost his dad before he was five, whose mom took him back to her home country of Ireland and then returned to run a small boarding house in Washington Heights in New York City. Scully is a child of the Great Depression and of the Roman Catholic Church, and when I interviewed him he spoke lovingly of the nuns and the Church that had overseen his youth -- though with a ruler that, had it not been stayed, might have ended the one of the best broadcast career in American sports history. (Read the transcript at HughHewitt.com if you want the details.)

What followed Scully's graduation from Fordham is as improbable as it is inspiring. He and a friend sent out scores and scores of letters seeking work, and only one reply came back, from Washington D.C.'s WTOP. Scully came to the Capitol, interviewed and got the job ahead of 50 other applicants, and by a series of unlikely events including a cold and windy afternoon running around the top of Fenway Park to broadcast a Boston University game, ended up in Red Barber's favor and in the Dodgers' booth before even the beginning of Jackie Robinson's big-league run.

I hope Baseball's Hall of Fame, in which Scully has been enshrined for 20 years, has the good sense to send a team of baseball's best historians to follow Scully around and just record his stories, too numerous to review. Scully called Henry Aaron's 715th home run as well as Bill Buckner's heart-breaking error, and of course Kirk Gibson's "impossible" home run in an "improbable" year, but he was also there for Bobby Thompson's 1951 "Shot heard 'round the world" and for every day of so many amazing careers it makes no sense to list them. Vin Scully is a walking, talking encyclopedia of baseball that needs only be tapped into to supply a thousand compelling stories that should be captured on tape.

One other thing should be done as well, and this is a bipartisan appeal to President Obama: Bestow on Vin Scully the Medal of Freedom, and honor through that act not just the very deserving Scully, but a pastime and a profession that brings so many together across so many lines and years.

Examiner Columnist Hugh Hewitt is a law professor at Chapman University Law School and a nationally syndicated radio talk show host who blogs daily at HughHewitt.com.

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