Halby's Morsels

Army-Navy; The durability of over 100 years of battling on the field; Names connected with Vin Scully

Fifty-nine years ago, last November 22nd, the President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated riding in an open cavalcade in Dallas. There was concern that the upcoming annual Army-Navy football game would be cancelled. But the powers in the White House, urged by Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy, delayed the game and scheduled it instead for December 7th. Navy beat Army in 1963, 21-15. 

When they go at it on the gridiron, Army and Navy fight and claw, nose-to-nose. It’s the long and glorious history that glow, starting with the Presidents themselves who often attend the event. Kennedy himself served in the Navy during World War II from 1941-1945

Army won the 123d pageantry this past Saturday in Philadelphia. It was the first ever in the long series that went overtime. The Army-Navy, 1963 game in Philadelphia’s Municipal Stadium was packed to the gills for the 1963 game. Some 102,000 fans shoed their way in. The setting was as emotional as you’d imagine. America had just lost its young and chief executive. It was was also just  before the Southern schools dominated the rankings. The Midshipmen were for that matter second in America at the time. They were led by QB Roger Staubach, now 80. He later starred with the Cowboys. Army had some highly ranked teams then too. 

President Kennedy was an avid football fan. Apparently, after consulting with her brother-in-law Robert Kennedy, Mrs. Jaqueline Kennedy and the brass decided to go ahead with  the annual game. In a string of tragedies, Bobby, himself, was assassinated  in June, 1968, just after winning the California Democratic Primary.

The men whose names will almost always trigger reminders of Vin Scully:

Kirk Gibson (October, 1988)  World Series “In a year of the improbable, the imposable has happened.” Those of a certain generation, are so well remembered by that very distinctive call by yes, Vin Scully “he’s using his bat as a cane.” Gibson turned into a decade long star

Jerry Doggett (1956-1987) 

Never a differing word between the two. Spent tons of time together on the road, inseparable partners!  Jerry always sounded willing and enjoyable. Through 32 years together in the same booth, Jerry did only two innings on radio. When the club was on TV, they’d split things. Vin did most of the TV. Jerry accepted his role, without even a nudge.

Harvey Kuenn  (1930-58)

Harvey was a good ballplayer in the National League and later not a bad manager. He’ll always be remembered for stamping  Scully’s call of Koufax’ perfect game in 1965, likely has because it was so electrifying. So we’ll never forget the name. It starts with: “Two and two to Harvey Kueen; one strike away…” The next pitch did it. Harvey died at age 57. (1930-88)

Don Laresn (1929-2010) Perfect Game 1956

On NBC in the 1950s, Vin, Mel, Brickhouse and Hodges, anyone privy to be assigned to network TV was asked to talk little. But it took difficult restraint. The on-air cast was asked to keep words to a minimum. TV was in an incipient time. ‘Economize the words’ was the motto. Scully told me that it was a difficult edict to heed. Words were just too precious when Vin presided in those early years. Vin gave Larsen the treatment he deserved on the national telecast.

Henry Aaron (#715, shattering Babe’s mark)

By coincidence, the Dodgers In 1974, were in Atlanta. Hank was chasing number 715. Vin was asked if whether he, as the senior announcer, would take the mic during Jerry Doggett assigned innings. He turned it down. If it turned out it was Jerry’s innings, so it would have been. For the mid 1970s, by infusing race, a Black man and the deep south, Vin projected in politics, tales and description. Vin gave a heartfelt and spontaneous lesson on race and sports. He did it as only he could.

Fernando Valenzuela (Took SoCal by storm

“If you have a sombrero toss it to the sky,” Vin rejoiced when Valenzuela’s no-hitter on June 29, 1990 brought Southern California alive. Fernando was a colorful Mexican who caught the curiosity of Southern Californians. Now 62, Fernando announces Dodgers’ Hispanic radio broadcasts

Sandy Koufax

A fellow from Brooklyn, two men, interconnected by history for the Dodgers, national television, LA, no-hitters, perfect games and more. Yes, we know all Sandy’s wonderful accomplishments and how he did it in a short time because of recurring injuries. He was a fine basketball player at Lafayette in addition to

Dwight Clark

It’s called “The Catch.” The late SF receiver who caught the pass from Joe Montana in January, 1982 was called by Vin Scully and Hank Stram. Yes, Scully hoped to become the lead NFL man. It didn’t work out that way. The hotter name then was John Madden. CBS management projected a better fit would be Pat Summerall. It worked out well for all parties. Vin then did network baseball for NBC.

Mel Allen

Vin never fazed, sitting next to Mel Allen, the biggest TV sports face in America. In 1956 when Larson registered the perfect game, as luck had it, Vin had the final innings. In Game #4 of the 1963 Series, Mel lost his voice. It turned into an LA sweep. Vin subbed to finish Allen’s play-by-play assignment. . Mel was never heard again on a Classic. Mel was silenced by a cold.

Don Drysdale

They worked in the booth together. Drysdale had a command of the language and needles to say knew the game. When he died of a heart-attack in his hotel room in Montreal, it was before the game. Vin knew of the tragedy but he or Ross Porter couldn’t say a thing until next of kin was informed.

David J. Halberstam

David is a 40-year + industry veteran who served as play-by-play announcer for St. John's University basketball in New York and as radio play-by-play voice of the Miami Heat in South Florida. He is the author of Sports on New York Radio: A Play-by-Play History and The Fundamentals of Sports Media and Sponsorship Sales: Developing New Accounts.

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Michael Green
1 year ago

A great list and great info. That 1963 Army-Navy game was where Tony Verna first used instant replay. Thus did life as we know it come to an end. When Jerry died, Vin said, “He had an unwrinkled heart.” Ross said that he came in over Jerry in terms of who had more innings in 1977, and Jerry was great with it and did all he could to make Ross welcome. We need more people like Jerry. By the way, cute story in Lindsey Nelson’s first book. He was coming out to LA and his wife went ahead and stayed… Read more »