vin-1961By Jon Weisman

This morning, Vin Scully spoke on a conference call with the national media. Given the series beginning tonight at Dodger Stadium and the fact that he will call his final game October 2 in San Francisco, several questions circled around the Dodgers-Giants rivalry.

Here’s a sampling of what he had to say …

Sharing a memory of Giants broadcaster Russ Hodges:

With Russ, when I was back in New York, I can actually remember one night in his kitchen harmonizing with Russ and Ernie Harwell, one of the beautiful memories in my entire life.

On broadcasting Dodgers-Giants games in San Francisco, starting in 1958:

First of all, when we arrived at Seals Stadium, they did not really have any kind of a radio booth. We didn’t televise. So we actually were one row behind the regular fans, and once they realized that we were doing, for instance, a beer commercial live, why, they’d start hollering, just good-naturedly, but they’d start hollering the names of all the other brands of beer that they could possibly think of. So that taught us to record all the commercials rather than be heckled by the fans. And (also), in all honesty, I’d be doing the game at Seals Stadium, and a fellow would turn around and just say to me, “Do you have a match?” It was that informal and that close. So that was an experience. But it was new, it was exciting, and the fans were fun.

At Candlestick, the wind was a nightmare, but I also thought that the surroundings affected the personality of the audience. I could be completely wrong, but it was cold and raw, windy, and I think the people in the stands were unhappy and sometimes would take their unhappiness out. I mean, we actually had one or two players, if I remember correctly, go up into the stands over somebody making some terrible remark.

But once they moved to AT&T Park, it’s completely different. The fans are good-natured, they’re happy, they’re fair, they’re wonderful. And although I certainly know nothing about mass psychology and all that stuff, I think the weather at Candlestick kind of embittered the fan, and the weather at AT&T has made it a wonderful party atmosphere. No meanness at all.

On the essence of the Dodgers-Giants rivalry:

Well, you really have to go back to New York. You have to realize that the Dodger fans and the Giants fans were, in a lot of cases, shoulder to shoulder all year long, working at their jobs. I can remember as a kid working for the post office during the Christmas holidays trying to make some money, and we’d be sliding mail, hundreds of them, standing in front of hundreds of cubbyholes and putting mail in the holes. And we’d spend all the time, slotting and arguing about who was better, Duke Snider or Willie Mays, etc., etc.

Also, the borough of Brooklyn had an atmosphere of “it’s us against the world.” So the Giants were the lordly team on the Harlem River, and they’d come over to Brooklyn. In the olden days, they tell me that (John) McGraw would bring the Giants over to Brooklyn in horse-drawn carriages, and the people in Brooklyn, the real fans, would throw things down on top of them. So the rivalry was somewhat bitter, because of the fact there was a great deal of friction.

And I grew up really in the bleachers in the old Polo Grounds, so my seat would probably be, oh, thinking back, maybe 450 feet from home plate. Or if I was lucky, I’d be in the grandstand, but no matter where you sat, you felt the rivalry. Because the people worked together, lived together and argued all year long. So it’s a little different.

At least now, you have several hundred miles separating the cities. Oh, sure, there are Giants fans down here, and there are Dodger fans in San Francisco. There’s not quite the bitter rivalry they had in New York. And I’m delighted for that. I really am.

One thing, too, you might very well want to sum up a Giant-Dodger rivalry. In Ebbets Field, the home dressing room was separated from the visiting dressing room by a door, a very simple door. And there were some bad moments. Really, I think around the time that Carl Furillo was beaned, and Leo (Durocher) was running the Giants and all of that, and they nailed up that door so you couldn’t open it. You couldn’t get into either room. To me that’s silent testimony to the fact that the feelings really ran high.

Originally published September 19, 2016