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Vintage Video: There Will Never Be Another Vin Scully 1

Posted on September 25, 2016 by Dean Hybl
Vin Scully has been an icon since announcing his first major league game in 1950.

Vin Scully has been an icon since announcing his first major league game in 1950.

After more than six decades, legendary Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers announcer Vin Scully is saying goodbye to the broadcast booth. To say that we will never see another Vin Scully may be quite an understatement.

Since he debuted as the third announcer along with Red Barber and Connie Desmond for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1950, Scully has been baseball’s great storyteller.

Listening to a Vin Scully broadcast is not just an afternoon enjoying live baseball. It is an afternoon remembering both legendary and relatively obscure players from baseball’s past while also likely having American culture and history woven into the conversation.

Scully is not just a walking baseball encyclopedia, he is a walking American history book.

Having grown up in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, Scully spent two years in the U.S. Navy before attending Fordham University. During his college career, Scully played on the baseball team while writing for the school newspaper and broadcasting football and basketball games on the radio.

Following his graduation, Scully was a fill-in announcer for CBS Radio station WTOP in Washington, DC. It was during this time that Red Barber, the Sports Director for the CBS Radio Network, recruited him to broadcast college football games.

After joining the Dodgers broadcast team in 1950, Scully continued to learn his craft from the legendary Barber. In 1953, Barber got into a salary dispute with World Series broadcast sponsor Gillette, propelling the 25-year-old Scully into the broadcast booth for his first World Series. He still holds the record as the youngest broadcaster to announce a World Series game.

He eventually became the lead announcer for the Dodgers and stayed with the team when they moved to Los Angeles following the 1957 season.

Though he is originally a New Yorker, it was in California where Scully truly became a broadcasting legend. Announcing Dodger games during the era of Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Maury Wills, Scully became a fan favorite as many would bring transistor radios to the stadium just to hear Scully call the action. Read the rest of this entry →

2014 Major League Baseball Preview: Is Money the Answer? 10

Posted on March 30, 2014 by Dean Hybl
Despite hitting 86 home runs the last two seasons, Chris Davis is still one of the most underrated players in baseball.

Despite hitting 86 home runs the last two seasons, Chris Davis is still one of the most underrated players in baseball.

Several major league baseball teams spent the winter spending money like a drunken sailor in hopes of moving to the top of the league. Yet, as we prepare for the 2014 season the teams expected by many to contend are a combination of big money and middle payroll teams.

For now, the Los Angeles Dodgers have surpassed the New York Yankees as the team with baseball’s highest payroll. However, that doesn’t mean the team in the Bronx is suddenly being frugal. The suspension of Alex Rodriguez hacked a large salary off their payroll, but the Yankees made up for that by signing Japanese pitching star Masahiro Tanaka and high money free agents Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann.

While several teams in recent years have been able to make the playoffs without high payrolls, once the playoffs begin the higher payrolls have generally had an advantage. That was quite obvious last season in the two playoff series that went to a decisive game. The higher payroll Cardinals and Tigers each started a seasoned veteran in the fifth game of their division round playoff series (Adam Wainwright and Justin Verlander, respectively). Their opponents, the Pirates and A’s, each started a rookie who wasn’t even in the major leagues when the 2013 season started.

Having a high payroll is no guarantee that a team will make the playoffs, but big off-season spending has certainly put several teams in a position to contend.

Below are a few thoughts heading into the 2014 season:

Baseball’s Most Underrated Player
In the last two seasons Baltimore Orioles slugger Chris Davis has hit 86 home runs, driven in 223 runs and scored 178 runs, yet ESPN’s recent player rankings didn’t have him listed among the top 25 players in the game. The Sybermetrics disciples have become so enamored with WAR and other made-up stats that they have forgotten that driving in and scoring runs is the name of the game. As a team, the Orioles have been generally dismissed despite having two consecutive solid seasons, but they have a very potent offensive and if David has another strong season the O’s could again be in contention throughout the season.
Read the rest of this entry →

25 Years Ago: Gibson Takes Eck Deep to Propel Dodgers to Improbable Title 1

Posted on October 15, 2013 by Dean Hybl
Kirk Gibson completely changed the 1988 World Series with one swing.

Kirk Gibson completely changed the 1988 World Series with one swing.

It was 25 years ago today that Kirk Gibson limped out of the Los Angeles Dodgers dugout and into baseball immortality. In his only at bat of the series, Gibson blasted a home run off future Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley that not only lifted his team to victory in the first game of the 1988 World Series, but set the stage for a surprising series victory for the underdog Dodgers.

Though Gibson’s home run did not end a World Series the way blasts by Bill Mazeroski and Joe Carter did, his homer arguably was just as important in deciding a series as any other home run in history.

The 1988 Oakland A’s were believed to be virtually unbeatable. Assembled with a combination of home grown players and experienced veterans and managed by Tony LaRussa, the A’s won 104 games in the regular season and then swept the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series.

Oakland scored 800 runs during the season and were led by Jose Canseco, who hit 42 home runs, drove home 124 runs, stole 40 bases and hit .307 to earn American League MVP honors. They also had an outstanding pitching staff including 21 game winner Dave Stewart and lights-out reliever Dennis Eckersley, who led the league with 45 saves in his first full season as a closer.

To the contrary, many believed that manager Tommy Lasorda had been using smoke and mirrors to coax his Dodgers team through the regular season and into the World Series. Sure they won 94 games in the regular season, but as a team hit just.248 and Gibson was actually the team leader with a .290 batting average and 25 home runs while finishing second on the squad with 76 RBI (Mike Marshall led the team with 82).

The Dodgers were in the 1988 World Series because they had one of the best pitching staffs in baseball. Even with perennial ace Fernando Valenzuela enduring the worst season to that point in his career, the team still had an ERA under three runs per game.

The main reason for that was Orel Hershiser, who was on his way to winning the Cy Young Award with a 23-8 record and 2.26 ERA. Read the rest of this entry →

Should Yasiel Puig be an All-Star? 1

Posted on July 04, 2013 by Dean Hybl
Yasiel Puig has posted numbers in one month that are comparable to what some All-Stars have done all season.

Yasiel Puig has posted numbers in one month that are comparable to what some All-Stars have done all season.

There seems to be a “old school vs. new school” battle brewing as to whether Los Angeles Dodgers phenom Yasiel Puig should be named to the National League All-Star team after just one month of stellar play at the major league level.

The old school argument is predictable and perhaps even a bit tired. Even though Puig has breathed life into the previously dead Dodgers and looked like an All-Star almost every night he has been on the field, he should not be selected to the All-Star game because he hasn’t proven himself even for half a season and therefore would be taking a spot away from someone else who has made their mark over the entire first half of the season.

The new school folks point to his amazing talent, .440 batting average with eight home runs and the 17-11 record of the Dodgers since his arrival as justification that the 2013 All-Star Game would not be complete without him being part of the National League squad.

Generally, I tend to fall on the “old school” side of most baseball arguments. I think the Triple Crown is far more significant than WAR and that pitchers should still be judged as much on their win-loss records and ERAs than on their WHIP.

However, when it comes to whether a player with 28 games of major league experience should be in the All-Star Game, I am not quite as regimented in my thinking.

Now, it was only three years ago when there was a similar ground swell around Washington Nationals pitching sensation Stephen Strasburg. Read the rest of this entry →

Fernando Valenzuela: Remembering Fernandomania 5

Posted on April 09, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Fernando Valenzuela

It was 30 years ago that the April Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month became a national phenomenon as he captured the hearts and spirits of baseball fans across North America.

The rise of Fernando Valenzuela was exactly what the baseball world needed at a time when labor unrest started to lift its ugly head. Read the rest of this entry →

Great News For Baseball: Vin Scully Isn’t Done Yet 25

Posted on August 22, 2010 by Dean Hybl

After more than 60 years, Vin Scully still loves his job broadcasting baseball for the Dodgers.

When I heard this morning that Vin Scully had called a press conference for prior to today’s Los Angeles Dodgers game against the Cincinnati Reds, my heart sank. Could this be the end for the last of the legendary broadcasters from the golden era of baseball?

Fortunately, instead of announcing his retirement, Scully announced that he loves the game too much to walk away and will continue to broadcast at least through 2011.

Sometimes the great ones hang on too long and don’t know when it is time to walk away, but that couldn’t be further from the case for Scully. All you have to do is listen to a Scully broadcast to know that this is a man who truly loves what he does and that nobody does it better.

Just two nights ago, I listened mesmerized for more than an hour as Scully didn’t as much “call” the game between the Dodgers and Reds as he did tell the story of the game.

Unlike most broadcast booths that now include two people and include announcers who spend more time utilizing graphics and talking to each other instead of the audience, Scully works alone and I imagine broadcasts on television today much in the same way he did when he first started announcing games on the radio for the then-Brooklyn Dodgers in 1950.

When listening to Scully you can almost close your eyes and let his voice guide you through the game in a manner atypical of most modern television announcers. As he probably did 60 years ago, during the first game of a series Scully typically spells out the names of those players with unusual last names on the opposing team. Though fans today can simply go to the internet to find the live game box score, Scully still has one foot in an era when young boys sat at the radio scoring along with the broadcast. Read the rest of this entry →

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    • Bulldog Turner: Two-Way Star
      November 12, 2017 | 8:52 am
      Bulldog Turner

      Bulldog Turner

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was a two-way star for the dominant Chicago Bears teams of the 1940s.

      Though Hardin-Simmons College in Abilene, Texas was not known as a football power, legendary head coach George Halas could find great players anywhere and chose Clyde “Bulldog” Turner with the seventh pick in the 1940 NFL Draft.

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