By Jon Weisman
High above the champagne party in the Dodger clubhouse, the booth sits empty now. And yet it feels so full.
Vin Scully clocked in at Dodger Stadium for the final time today, a day that encapsulated so much of what made him baseball’s premier voice.
There was a pennant race with two games to call simultaneously — the Dodgers playing the Rockies at home, the Giants playing the Padres in San Diego, with either result potentially handing a National League West title to the Dodgers.
There was perspective, tragically, from the death of José Fernández, with Vin quoting from a tweet the Miami pitcher sent a year ago: “If you were given a book with the story of your life, would you read the end?”
Said Vin: “He was 23 then, and already thinking some pretty deep thoughts.”
There was family, highlighted by an overflow crowd from Vin’s 16 grandchildren and three great-grand children crashing his booth midgame.
There was respect, with every Dodger hitter tipping his helmet and saluting Vin on the way to the batters box.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) September 25, 2016
And there was humility, with Vin trying to deflect attention from himself, yet unable to go without expressing gratitude for it all.
“I really appreciate it,” he said. “I don’t know who planned it or who started it.”
There were references to George “High Pockets” Kelly; there was a “deuces wild.” There was, in short, Vin.
As we wondered how this day would end, there was drama — magnificent drama, as Corey Seager’s two-out, bottom-of-the-ninth, game-tying blast triggered Vin’s definitive call. “A high drive into deep right field …”
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Then came the topper: the glory of Charlie Culberson’s division-winning walkoff homer, kicking off jubilation at Dodger Stadium.
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“Swung on — a high fly ball to deep left field,” Vin said, seemingly as surprised as anyone. “Can you believe a home run? And the Dodgers have clinched the division and will celebrate on schedule.
“Leave it to the Dodgers. Charlie Culberson, a game-winning home run. What a moment to have it — and would you believe, his first home run of the year.”
All day long, fans showered Vin with love, and he returned it with heartfelt waves and gestures. The most sentimental was saved for last.
Vin took the microphone from in booth, patched into the public address system. He had “a modest contribution” — but his own.
He told the fans, once more, how much he loved them. And then, he stood with his wife Sandi, as everyone heard a recording of Vin singing “The Wind Beneath My Wings.”
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Finally, Vin signed off, for the last time here, for the last time before the final trip to San Francisco. Then, as Vin would assuredly prefer, the celebration turned to the team in the clubhouse.