LOS ANGELES — This was a special weekend at Dodger Stadium. Starting with Friday night’s fabulous, star-studded ceremony, all three days were filled with wonderful tributes to Vin Scully, and his last home game as Dodgers announcer on Sunday was especially beautiful.
For starters, all eight Dodgers starting position players stopped to salute Scully as they stepped in the batters box for their first plate appearance. This was not evident at first, but the fans in the stadium began to notice by third-hitter Corey Seager’s at-bat and cheered each one in full beginning with cleanup man Yasiel Puig.
Scully’s reaction was typically modest: “Are they waving up here? Oh, that’s terrific. Holy mackerel,” he said.
Adrian Gonzalez said 'hat tip to Vin' was idea he and Justin Turner came up with. "We were texting last night. 'We have to do something.'"— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) September 26, 2016
Brought the idea to the team in the hitters meeting before today's game. "He deserves a lot more. Just a small token of our affection"— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) September 26, 2016
Throughout the game, and throughout the weekend, there were various between-inning video tributes to Scully — several can be found on MLB.com — and occasionally after one finished a camera would pan to Scully in his booth, and just about every single time he was genuinely surprised or embarrassed, or both, at the attention.
At the end of the second, several of Scully’s grandchildren were brought into the press box and surprised him in the booth. It produced this great picture and great smile from Scully:
Vin's grandchildren stop by to surprise him in the booth. pic.twitter.com/L8iribaXGO— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) September 25, 2016
Things got a little crazy as two games were racing toward a finish. The Padres took a 4-3 lead in the seventh inning over the Giants in San Diego, though that game started 30 minutes later than the Dodgers and Rockies.
The game at Dodger Stadium might have ended first, especially after David Dahl homered in the ninth inning to give Colorado a 3-2 lead. Adam Ottavino struck out his first two batters in the ninth, then as he fell behind 2-0 to Seager, Scully mentioned how the Dodgers might still get to celebrate a division title even if they lost, as long as the Giants lost, too.
"It takes a little of the fizz out of the champagne, but they'll be happy to drink it, or spill it on each other," Scully said.
Then Seager, who tripled home the tying run in the seventh inning, launched a home run to right field to tie things in the ninth.
“The baseball gods weren’t going to let Vin lose his last one, so that was pretty cool the way we did it,” Seager told Alanna Rizzo on SportsNet LA after the game.
Charlie Culberson was the hero with his walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, but he also made a nice defensive play to end the top of the inning, racing to second base for a force out to end a potential rally.
“Charlie Culberson flying along to the bag,” Scully called. “A sigh of relief will air out the city.”
The long-awaited Scully surprise after the game was him addressing the crowd, followed by the playing of a recording of him singing Bette Midler’s ‘The Wind Beneath My Wings.’ Regardless of what you might think of the song, it meant something personal to Vin, and after 67 years in the booth he damn well earned it.
But there were a couple of moments in that postgame moment that made it special for me.
After celebrating the win on the field, manger Dave Roberts, on microphone to the entire stadium said, “Vin, we love you, and this is for you my friend.”
Then Roberts and Scully both made hugging gestures toward each other.
But the other part was that, which you can see a little bit in the video, was that the team all stayed on the field not only during Scully’s speech to the crowd, but also during the song itself.
It was a cool send-off for Scully’s final home game, and made for a great capper to a very special day.
Okay, I take that back. This was the perfect ending.