L.A. Has Been So Fortunate To Have Scully, Hearn
September 6, 2015
By Mitch Chortkoff
When I was 28 I was assigned to the Laker beat at the L.A. Herald-Examiner by sports editor Bud Furillo.
I was thrilled but I had no idea what was in store for me. Not only did I fly on the team plane where I got to know Chick Hearn very well but I occasionally filled in for the regular Dodger beat writer in the summer and that got me into the world of Vin Scully.
This week Scully revealed he’s going to broadcast Dodger games again next season, his 68th year in that role. I’m pretty sure that’s the longest any announcer has worked with the same team in any sport.
“I considered retiring but my wife wondered what I’d do after giving up something I’ve done for so long.” He said.
“My health is good and I’m a pretty good judge of my work. I think I’m doing all right and I love going to the ballpark.”
He’s doing more than all right. He’s an American treasure, not only for his knowledge of baseball but for the stories he tells during the broadcasts. He even supplies anecdotes about opposing players, which separates him from most other announcers.
The purpose of this column is to supply information about Scully and Hearn that most people don’t know.
I’m so grateful for having a job which has given me the opportunity to know these remarkable men.
And I’ll add Jaime Jarrin, the Dodgers’ Spanish language announcer with a track record similar to Scully.
When a fellow reporter told Jarrin I was at a recent game he replied as he often has when seeing me. “The Lakers must be off today.”
Scully is a wonderful man who is gracious with people and rarely is outrageous on the air.
By contrast, Hearn was both totally serious about the Lakers but also outrageous at times.
He had a one-hour radio show before Laker games when fans could ask him questions. He was so outrageous several writers and I made sure one of
us would listen every time, particularly Mark Whicker of the Orange County Register and Steve Springer of the Los Angeles Times.
I heard a man call with a couple of rule changes he wanted. Hearn didn’t like either suggestion. Hearn was anxious to hang up when the man said his nine-year-old son rarely missed a broadcast and would Hearn mind talking to him.
Hearn said “certainly, put him on the phone.”
The obviously overjoyed youngster said “oh, thank you Mister Hearn. My classmates are going to be jealous of me now.”
Hearn asked “would you do something for me?”
“Yes. Mister Hearn,” the boy replied. “Anything.”
“Tell your dad he’s an idiot.”
Then there was the night we were on the road, I don’t remember the city but I knew the team would be flying to the next destination right after the game.
Shortly before tipoff the Lakers had some injuries and Rumeal Robinson, a reserve guard who had played very little was inserted into the starting lineup.
This was quite a surprise and it qualified as important information.
Hearn needed to know but the problem was he had his headset on and there was a lot of noise in the building. A phone call from producer Susan Stratton, who was in the TV truck outside the arena wouldn’t have been the solution.
So Stratton came into the building and that was very unusual. My courtside seat was close to where Hearn was working and when she approached him I tried hard to listen.
She had a high-pitched voice when she was excited and I heard her say “Chick, Chick, Rumeal is playing, Rumeal is playing.”
Hearn knew she was talking to him but he could hear only part of her sentence because of the noise.
He removed his headset and asked:
“What did you say about the meal on the plane?”
Fans, keep reminding yourselves of your precious moments listening to Hearn.
And let’s see if Scully really retires after one more season. Wouldn’t it be better if he remained on the broadcast team in a reduced role? He wouldn’t have to travel but he could still contribute a lot.
We don’t want him to be absent from Dodger Stadium.
Hearn and Scully. How fortunate we’ve been.