Lights, Camera, Story

A dramatic, high-stakes competition. A roar emanating from thousands of people in one contained environment that seems like it could spread around the world. An awe-inspiring moment that we will remember forever. This is the true dream of a play-by-play broadcaster. For many of us, one of the primary reasons we are in this business is to hang on to the hope that one day we will be blessed with the remarkable fortune and responsibility of being entrusted to provide the backdrop for one of these great moments. But, the weight of the moment can sometimes be too much for some to handle. It makes sense to become downright frightened if you imagine yourself on national television/radio, doing a postseason/World Series/Super Bowl/you name it game, knowing that millions of people around the country are listening to what exits your mouth. I have always admired the people who have been able to hold themselves together in these moments and not be bogged down by the enormity of the moment at hand. One of the most textbook examples of big-moment genius comes from, in my opinion, the greatest to ever do this BAR NONE: the one and only Vin Scully. Scully drew the assignment of calling Game 1 of the 1988 World Series for NBC. The Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Dodgers proceeded to play one of the most memorable games (that had one of the most memorable endings) in baseball history. The Dodgers entered the bottom of the ninth inning trailing 3-2, having to face an all-time great closer Dennis Eckersley. What followed was simply historic. The actual home-run call doesn’t take place until the 6:50 mark of the video, but viewing it in its entirety paints you an accurate portrayal of Scully’s greatness. You can tell that Scully’s tone while in the midst of Gibson’s at-bat is one of edge-of-his-seat anticipation. It is also one of disbelief, thinking that what is taking place in front of him can’t actually be happening. This all results in the build-up of intense drama for the viewer. Personally, my favorite part of this clip is what Scully does after Gibson hits his improbable home-run: he shuts up and gets out of the way. Letting the exuberation and sheer joy of the crowd speak for itself says more to the viewer than any words ever could. And, when Scully finally does speak again, he utters a tremendously authentic line, “In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened!” As aspiring broadcasters, this is what we strive for. We want to give our audience the best possible experience while they watch and listen to their game. We want to consciously be thinking about what they want to hear and cater to them as much as possible. Over the course of his 64 years, no one has done this better than Vin Scully. We can all learn from his remarkable ability to shine bright along with the game.

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