My grandfather was 90 when he died a few years back, just a year and change older than Vin Scully, now. From falling asleep to Vin's voice as a toddler, to, as a youngster, holding a plastic baseball-shaped transistor radio to my ear at Dodger games in the Loge section, Aisle 120, Row N, Seat 3, and talking back to him -- as though he could hear me, because every time you listened to Vin, it felt like a conversation -- to Sunday, crying inconsolably on my couch as he sings one last lullaby, Vin Scully has been and always will be the voice, the conscience, the soul and the spirit of baseball.
Some hear James Earl Jones's voice from Field of Dreams. I hear Vin's, reading a grocery list.
I had the chance, two seasons ago, to meet Vin. My uncle, who's worked for Peter O'Malley for years, has also set up Vin's home computers for a decade and change. He's told Vin about his nephew, the sports writer. Vin was standing behind the writer desks in the Dodgers press box. He was chatting with someone, and I didn't want to interrupt for too long. When they reached a break in the conversation, I went up and said, "Vin, I'm Ryan Gorcey, David Barish's nephew. I just wanted to introduce myself."
"Oh, it's so nice to meet you!" he said, grasping my hand with both of his. I felt like the only person in the world. I said, "I just wanted to thank you, for everything."
And, it really has been everything.
There's a little-known song released on a Dodgers CD a few years back, called 'That's When I Fell in Love With Baseball.' It reduced me to a sobbing mess last night. It doesn't include this moment in the verses, but I fell in love with baseball the moment my grandfather put a yellow, plastic Fisher Price bat in my hand and taught me how to hit in his backyard, then, later that day, took me to Dodger Stadium, handed me that transistor radio, and I heard Vin's voice. It wasn't the first time I'd heard Vin; I'd been going to games since I was a zygote, so his voice was as familiar to me as my own family's, and Vin was exactly that, for me, and generations of baseball fans and Angelenos: Family.
That voice was as much a part of baseball as the bag of peanuts and sliced apples my grandparents stuffed in their Dodger giveaway duffle bag. I don't even know if that day, as I remember it, ever happened exactly like that.
I just remember those two men teaching me to love baseball.
My entire baseball life has been set to the soundtrack of two voices -- my grandfather's, and Vin Scully's. It was my grandfather who was by my side all those years in those orange, plastic seats. The two of them taught me the game.
They told me the best fairy tales. They told me of heroes and hope, of the simple pleasures -- like a hot dog in one hand, and a soda in the other -- and that sometimes, life's not fair, but at other times, life rewards you when you foul off seven straight pitches. Losing Vin's voice is like losing my grandfather, losing Pops, all over again. I cannot imagine baseball without either voice. But, as is the way of the world, when one voice goes quiet, another takes its place.
Those were the voices that brought life to the game of baseball, for me, and now, as a writer, as a man, it's my turn. The best I can do, the most fitting tribute to these two men who shaped my life is to be the best I can be, and be a voice for someone else, whether it's for those who read the words I type as a sports writer, or simply for my own future children. It will always be time for Dodger baseball, and it will always be a very pleasant good evening to you, wherever you may be.