By Jon Weisman
The only broadcaster with a longer tenure in Los Angeles than Vin Scully was Stan Chambers. Chambers, who joined KTLA in December 1947, mere weeks after the station opened, was a direct connection to the origins of television in this city.
His passing today, along with that of Gary Owens, marks the end of a devastating week in broadcast journalism, but the farewell to a time where you could reach out and talk to someone who could tell you first-hand, “This is how it all began.” Because he was there.
One of the absolute privileges in my career was the opportunity to spend an hour with Chambers and his longtime KTLA colleague Hal Fishman in 2007 for this Variety story that covered six decades of history. I really treasure that piece and that memory. Fishman’s concluding thought: “Instead of a decline from excellence, let’s have a striving for excellence.”
Tales of the hard-bitten journalist abound in literature, television and film, but what you realize when you read about people like Chambers, Bob Simon and David Carr — all of whom we lost in this grotesque 48-hour period — is how they never sacrificed their humanity for their talent. That’s not to say they didn’t have their personal challenges or foibles, but they were true people of the people. It goes without saying that Scully embodies this as well.
You don’t have to be a jerk to succeed. You can be dedicated without being myopic. Cynicism isn’t required when skepticism will do the trick. Be the best you can be, in and out of the office.
Every so often, I’ll make a comment about getting older. The truth is, I suffer less about what the passing years are doing to me than about what they do to the people I respect and cherish.
And with that, on to the smaller picture …
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- This week’s Think Blue Review begins with a beginning: the journey to Camelback Ranch.
- Curiosity abounds over how well Joc Pederson will perform this season. August Fagerstrom of Fangraphs attempts to find some comparable MLB players from the recent past.
- Ken Gurnick of MLB.com has capsules on eight up-and-coming Dodgers to keep an eye on, as well as on the team’s new faces.
- Dodger clubhouse manager Mitch Poole told Gurnick about this change in player habits at Spring Training: “We used to get a lot of golf clubs, especially for starting pitchers. That’s rare now. Instead, we get a lot of bicycles.”
- Two national websites have the Dodgers second behind the Nationals heading into preseason: ESPN.com’s Sweet Spot and SI.com.
- Juan Uribe ranks ninth among MLB third baseman, according to MLB Network. Check out the video here.
- Branch Rickey was named the greatest general manager ever by Mark Armour and Dan Leavitt. Read more at In Pursuit of Pennants. The first paragraph:
Had Branch Rickey retired from baseball in 1942, before he ran the Dodgers, before he signed Jackie Robinson, his record as a general manager would still be enough to warrant consideration as the greatest GM in the game’s history. By that time he had already built one of history’s best organizations, winning six pennants and four World Series while completely revising baseball player development and instruction and inventing the farm system model that is still in place nine decades later. When you add in his Brooklyn years, both the building of one of baseball’s best and most iconic teams and his historic and courageous act to integrate the game, it is a relatively easy call. Summarizing Branch Rickey as a general manager is like summarizing Isaac Newton as scientist. Where do you begin?
- Today is the 20th anniversary of Hideo Nomo signing with the Dodgers. Eric Stephen takes us back at True Blue L.A.
- Mid-century MLB commissioner Happy Chandler was dead set against Leo Durocher going into the Hall of Fame, as late as 1988. Ernest Reyes of Blue Heaven has the details, including a letter Chandler wrote to Buzzie Bavasi in 1988.
- Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles offers worst-case and best-case scenarios for the Dodgers in 2015.
- In the wake of the Jackie Robinson West Little League controversy, Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen wrote a thought-provoking piece for the Players’ Tribune.