When Harvard beat Yale in “The Game” at Fenway Park last Saturday, I could not help but be reminded that the iconic Vin Scully made his radio debut at Fenway.
The year was 1949 and in addition to his role as the “Voice of the Brooklyn Dodgers,” Red Barber was the Director of Sports at CBS radio. In those days, college football was still king and every Saturday, during the season, CBS would host a football round-up of games. Barber would assign broadcasters to the top five or six football games of the day and would switch back-and-forth to the various games, as key plays unfolded.
Scully caught his big break, when another announcer fell ill and Ernie Harwell had to be reassigned to the Notre Dame-North Carolina game at Yankee Stadium. That left a vacancy for the Maryland-Boston University contest at Fenway and Scully got the call.
Thinking he would be positioned in a broadcast booth for the November game, Scully did not bring an overcoat. It turned out they located Scully on the Fenway rooftop on a cold afternoon, sans overcoat. Scully impressed Barber by doing a superb job in his debut, and when he never complained about the accommodations – someone else told Barber he worked the assignment without an overcoat – that impressed Barber even more.
When Harwell left the Dodgers to join Russ Hodges in the New York Giants broadcast booth for the 1950 season, that left a vacancy Barber had to fill. Once again, Scully got the call.
“It’s interesting to note,” that 1950 marked the first of 67 seasons for the iconic broadcaster in the Dodgers booth.