OBSERVATIONS: I’m back. . .with a trial run

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Sun Room, a trial run from here because the La-Z-Boy in The Man Cave puts too much of an ouchy pinch on the surgically repaired hip.

Bear with me, dear readers. I plan to return to monitoring our Class AAA Cincinnati Reds on Monday, so this is keyboard and brainboard practice.

—The sun was just doing a deep-dive into the Pacific Ocean, a few miles west of Dodger Stadium. At this hour, or any hour, I-10, is the world’s largest parking lot and boxing ring for those suffering road rage.

I was safely ensconced in my press box seat, banging on the keyboard of my laptop while gazing at the snow-capped San
Gabriel Mountains, wondering when the famous Dodger Dogs would be ready.

Suddenly, a shadow lurked behind me, covering the gibberish on my laptop screen. A thunderous voice addressed me, sounding like Moses from on-high.

It came from a higher level. It was broadcaster Vin Scully and in Dodger Stadium if does not come from any higher — not from Walter O’Malley, not from Walter Alston, not from Tommy Lasorda, not from Jackie Robinson. ‘The Voice’ in Chavez Ravine belongs to Vin Scully.

And he was talking to me whilie I was wiping hot coffee out of my crotch from the shock of Vin Scully talking to me.

“Young man, may I have a word?” he asked. It was 1974, my second year covering the Reds and Scully already was in his third decade broadcasting Dodgers games.

A few words? The man could have my entire vocabulary and I would have made up a few new words for him.

“I just wanted to tell you I have been reading your stuff and you do a great job,” he said. “Before teams play the Dodgers I read up on them by reading the stories by their writers. I use some of it on the air and I’ve used quite a bit of your stories. Thank you so much and keep up the great work.”

You could have knocked me over with a rosin bag. He made my day, He made my week. He made my month. He made my year. Hell, he made my LIFE.

The iconic Vin Scully, the best baseball broadcaster ever born, not only read my stuff in the Dayton Daily News, he used some of it the air.

The chest size on my shirts swelled a couple of sizes for quite a while.

That, though, was the way he was with everybody. He despised the limelight and preferred talking about anything but himself. He was the most humble really famous person I ever knew.

Up until a couple of years ago, Scully’s milky-smooth voice still did Dodgers games. He was 92 with the enthusiasm of a 29-year-old.

Scully passed away peacefully last week at 94. The Daily News lost one of its most famous readers, the baseball world lost a man who loved the game almost as much as the game loved him.

And I lost a man who left this world not realizing the impact that a few if his words had on a young just-starting writer still getting his feet soaked into writing and the game of baseball.

—QUOTE: From Vin Scully, the best there ever was and the best there will ever be: “As long as you live, keep smiling, because it brightens everybody’s day.” (And as Carly Simon sang it, “Nobody did it better.”)

—The pomp and circumstance of Thursday’s Field of Dreams game was above and beyond any charts.

The only spoiler was that the two iconic teams on the field, the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs, are in deep depression. Both put boiler plate rosters on the field, especially the Reds with what is left after the front office took pruning scissors to last season’s roster.

As a result, it was a stinker of a game, a 4-2 Cubs win. Neither team put one ball over the fence and into the cornfields.

Nevertheless, it was a stunning show, salvaged by planting a microphone on Joey Votto in the third inning and an in-game interview with Johnny Bench.

As the third inning ended, Votto said, “Thanks, guys. I gotta go hit. . .maybe a home run.” Instead, he struck out with two men on. That is happening more-and-more to the 38-year-old first baseman, but it would be highly entertaining if he wore a mic on the field at all times and talked constantly to the fans.

—The highlight for me was when Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr. emerged from the corn before the game and Junior asked Senior, “Have a catch.”

It took me back to 1945, when I was five, and my dad returned from The Philippines after serving in World War II. He brought back a Japanese sniper rifle but would never utter a word about what he saw and endured as part of The Greatest Generation.

As soon as he returned, he took me into our muddy, grassless backyard to play catch. It was a beat-up, rundown wood frame house in Lakemore, Oh, all mom could afford while dad served our country.

There was no indoor plumbing and our ‘bathroom’ was an outhouse. As we played catch, dad stood next to the outhouse, using it as a backstop for my wild heaves. I left several holes in the thin boards of that old building and the smell was knee-numbing.

But every time dad said, “Let’ play catch,” I set land speed records grabbing my raggedy old glove with no padding to play catch with my dad.

I wish I could have played catch with him just one time on the Field of Dreams.

—QUOTE: From Ken Griffey Jr., “You lose, you smile, and you come back the next day. You win, you smile, you come back the next day.”(It was difficult to determine which was prettier, Griffey’s swing or Griffey’s smile. . .both were the best.)

—Ever hear of John Cantley? Me, neither. But I ran across his name while reading in the hospital.

He was a pitcher in 1914 for the Opelika Pelicans of the Class D Georgia-Florida League and won 22 games. And in one game he hit three grand slam home runs and a single to drive in 15 of the 19 runs the Pelicans scored to be the Talladega Indians, 19-1.

Entranced, I looked him up. A year later, he was pitching for Class B Evansville in the Central League when, at 23, he contracted Typhoid Fever and died.

—While in the hospital, every time the nurses serve your meds, they ask (even though they know), “What’s your name and date of birth.”

On the 1,000th time I said, “McCoy, 10/18/40,” I asked for a Smith Brothers licorice cough drop. Ask and you shall receive. . .most of the time. My young nurse never even heard of Luden’s.

9 thoughts on “OBSERVATIONS: I’m back. . .with a trial run”

  1. Tremendous article. Very emotional to read about Vin and the stories you wrote about.

    You are the Paul McCartney of sportswriters!


  2. You may not have had a catch with your Dad in Iowa, but he did see your induction in Cooperstown.
    Welcome back, Hal

  3. Good to see you back at it so soon, Hal!
    You having breakfast sent from Mom’s ’til you can get back in person??


  4. It is great to have you back online. Take care and continue to heal. Reading you is the best there is – it would be great if the Reds were half as good as you are….

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