Legendary baseball announcer, Vin Scully, just announced that he will return one more year as the broadcaster for the Los Angeles Dodgers. It will be his 67th year behind the microphone. Imagine that. He started when he was 20 years old and just turned 87. I worked for the same company for 34 years, but that doesn’t hold a candle to the red-headed tenor’s run. Scully, a story teller if there ever was one, has seen it all. In the first week of June, 1989, Scully called 45 innings of baseball in 29 hours. He worked the NBC’s 10-inning “Game of the Week” in St. Louis on June 3rd, then the Dodgers’ network’s 22-inning game that very same night inHouston, then 13 more innings the next afternoon. Scully then flew toAtlanta and called an 18-inning game with the Braves on June 5th. It was just another day at the office for the old redhead.
The 22-inning game, which the Astros won 5-4 on June 3rd at the Astrodome, was full of wonderful, wacky events. Here are a few. Forty-four players were used during the 22 innings, but not one of them got more than three hits. John Shelby of the Dodgers went 0 for 10. Five players went 1 for 1. Orel Hershiser worked seven innings of three-hit, eight strike-outs, shutout relief and was still unhappy about being removed in the 21st inning, by manager Tommy Lasorda. Fernando Valenzuela played first base for the Dodgers. Pitcher Jim Deshaies pinch-hit for the Astros. First baseman, Eddie Murray, played third base for the first time in his career, for the Dodgers. Neither team scored a run from the seventh inning until the 22nd. There were only two stolen bases. The Dodgers’ hitters went 14 for 78, and the game ended at 2:50 a.m. Central Time.
I tried to imagine how a phone call might have sounded if an Astros player were to have called his wife from the clubhouse around 2 a.m.
“Honey, I’m still at the ballpark.”
“Sure you are.”
“You’re shooting pool again, aren’t you?”
“No! Honest! Turn your radio on. We’re still playing.”
“Nobody plays baseball at 2 a.m. in the morning. Can’t you at least make up a decent story?”
“Look, I’ve got to go. I’m on deck to hit next. The Dodgers are taking Orel Hershiser out and replacing him with their third baseman.”
“You’re not only lying, you must be drunk.”
“I won’t bother coming home tonight, Honey. I’ll just sleep here in the clubhouse.”
“Ok, Buster, but I’ll be reading that box score in the morning. You’d better have at least nine at-bats, or I’ll be taking the kids to live with my mother.”
Astros’ first baseman, Glenn Davis, actually did sleep in the clubhouse that night, but the story of the phone call above was made up. The Dodgers’ next-day starting pitcher, Tim Belcher, was the only Dodger that did not get into the game. He had stayed at the hotel. Dodgers’ third baseman Jeff Hamilton, who had replaced Hershiser, would get the loss. Houstonwon the game when Billy Doran singled, reached second on aDavisgrounder, and then scored on a single by Rafael Ramirez.
Can you imagine how the umpiring crew of Fred Brocklander, Bob Engel, Paul Runge, and “Dutch” Rennert felt? They did not have the luxury of spending some time on the bench every other half-inning.