Apparently, fellow Googlers- Bobbleheads have been around since the late 1700’s – (who knew?) But Major League Baseball didn’t catch the craze until they presented a Willie Mays Bobblehead to the fans at Candlestick Park in 1999. So needless to say, Bobbleheads did not factor into the world I knew when I was 12, and the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles.
I had a portable plastic radio, the most lovely shade of light green; it’s dials sparkled silver. The announcer was Vin Scully, whose golden voice told me everything I needed to know. It was love at first at bat!
My sister and I never missed a game. Duke Snyder, Frank Howard, Gil Hodges, Maury Wills, Wally Moon, Jim Gilliam, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale - they were our heroes. We knew every batting average and birthday. Wally could knock homers over the Coliseum’s short left field fence like he was flipping pancakes; his eyebrows grew together, as my brothers never tired of pointing out. I didn’t care. "There goes another one" Vin Scully exulted. And Maury Wills would steal second base, and Gil Hodges execute a perfect double play. We were breathlessly glued to that radio all summer long! We knew greatness when we heard it and didn’t need Bobblehead dolls to remind us whom we loved.
My father, prominent in LA, once brought home a gift for each of us. It was Walter O’Malley’s business card. Mine said, "Dear Tory, All the Dodgers love you and so do I." - signed Walter F. O’Malley. OMG! I carried it in my wallet long after graduate school!
Gradually, I grew away from my beloved Dodgers, or they from me.
The last time I remember listening was to the 1988 World Series game. I was with my brother’s family in Mill Valley. Incredibly, they were rooting for the Oakland A’s. In the 9th inning, Dodger slugger Kirk Gibson hit "a line drive into deep right field…She is GONE!" His home run won the game, and Vinny exulted "In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened…!" The Dodgers had come through for me again!
But that was the last of the good ol’ days. My favorites retired, the team stopped winning; I no longer had the time to wile away long hours listening to games; my sister moved out of state, as did I. Frank McCourt, a speculator in parking lots, a narcissistic embarrassment, bought the team. Vin kept announcing games, but I was no longer listening.
Recently, Magic Johnson and friends rescued the team from the greed of the McCourts, and began rebuilding the disgraced franchise. And
55 years after the Dodgers first arrived, I started listening again.
I’m 67 now and when a recent back injury landed me in bed with time on my hands, I turned on a game. With the exception of Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, and Clayton Kershaw, I’d never heard of any of them. But there, much to my disbelief and delight, was Vin Scully…announcing the game, as clear, as knowledgeable, as passionate as ever. His only concession to age, calling only home games. Last night, talking about the Dodgers just winning a record 15 games in a row on the road, he recalled how the 1944 Dodgers lost 16 in a row! When a Dodger hit a homer last night, he compared it to one Frank Howard hit in 1962! This guy is an 84 year old walking encyclopedia who has been in the broadcast booth for 63 seasons! And he doesn’t miss a detail or a beat!
We have Yasiel Puig now, who, it seems, swam from Cuba to Mexico, then pole-vaulted the electrified border fence right into the (now electrified)Dodger line up. (Who says our immigration policies can’t be flexible?) A Times Sports writer wrote, " Yasiel Puig could hit a home run with the jaw bone of a donkey. Clayton Kershaw could throw a marshmallow past a Cub Scout troop." (This columnist should get a Bobblehead for good writing.)
I know I can get a Sandy Koufax, a Kirk Gibson or a Clayton Kershaw. (The Puigs are just now on a shipping container out of Shanghai.) But the only Bobblehead doll I want is Vin Scully’s. I’m ordering it now. He is MY hero, my link to the past, continuity in a world changing at light speed. As I said, I have time on my hands, and Vin as Bobblehead makes me laugh.