Thursday, March 25, 2010

Vin Scully, on Bill Veeck and 'Colored Only'

Bill Veeck and Larry Doby.

Work and/or TiVo glitches sometimes prevent us from passing along Vin's best stories, so if you feel like adding to the SoSG Vin Scully Repository, give us a heads-up and send your transcriptions in!

Today we have a fine spring training history lesson from Vin. True thanks to the trusty transcribing trio of Dusty Baker, Mrs. Dusty and MDIL for bringing us these words from Vin's first broadcast of 2010:

Second inning, no score in the ballgame from Camelback Ranch here in Glendale, Arizona. Dodger and the Indians. This is the only time that we will see the Indians this year and of course we don’t broadcast an Indians game during the regular season. But the more I got to thinking about this game today, the more I realized there’s a lot more to it than at first glance. It’s kind of a convoluted story and yet I think you’ll find it rather interesting. Although it does begin with an experience that I had comparable to Bill Veeck.

When I was in the Navy, took boot camp Camp Peary, Virgina. And I was then going to be sent to Washington, DC and I was gonna take the train. And they put me in the train station in Williamsburg, Virginia, to go to Washington.

That’ll do it for Kearns.

Anyway, when I got there, place was crowded waiting for the train but there was a small room and I looked over and I thought, wow, it’s empty. I’m going to go over there. I got a chance to sit down and relax. So I took my sea bag over and I stretched out on the bench. Pulled my little sailor hat down over my eyes. And I’m there about ten minutes and I get a whack on the shoes. And I look up and there’s an S.P…sailor… standing over me and he said, “Sailor can’t you read?” And I looked up and he pointed to a wall behind me. I turned and looked over on the wall and there was a sign and it said “Colored Only.” And he said, “You gotta get outta here.” Well I’m a kid from New York. I’d never heard of “Colored Only.” But, like a good sailor, I get outta there. Okay.

Bill Veeck, who went on to own the Cleveland Indians…way back, maybe the same time in the late 40s, middle 40s when I was in the service. Bill Veeck owned the minor league team in Milwaukee Brewers and the Milwaukee Brewers trained in Ocala, Florida. And one day, like today a lazy exhibition game, and Bill came out of the rickety old clubhouse for a minor league team, and he just went into the nearby bleachers. And there are a lot of black fans in the bleachers and Bill is sittin’ there havin’ fun, talkin’ to them about the ballgame. A policeman comes over to Bill Veeck and said “You can’t sit here.” And Bill said, “What are you talkin’ about?” And he said “No, no, this is ‘Colored only.’ You’ve gotta get out of here.”

Ground ball to third, tricky hop. Nice stab by Nick Green and that’ll do it for Rodriguez.

Anyway, Bill Veeck said, “No way. I’m stayin’ here.” So the policemen goes and he gets a sergeant, a captain, sheriff. Sheriff comes over and says, “Mr. Veeck you’re gonna have to leave. He said “I’m not leaving.” The mayor came…now here’s…here’s this white man sitting amongst a lot of black fans and the mayor of Ocala, Florida, comes and says, “You’ve gotta leave.” And Bill Veeck said, to his credit, “You make me leave and I take my team out of Ocala, Florida.”

Fly ball to left…late start by Garret Anderson, but he’s right there and he will put it away and a 1-2-3 inning.

So….they chased Bill Veeck from the “colored” bleachers. More on the story comin’ up, but at the end of an inning and a half, no score.

[Commercial break]

Bottom of the second inning, no score in the ballgame. Garret Anderson having a look at Jake Westbrook’s pitch for ball one. One and oh the count.

Anyway, there’s more to just looking at Cleveland versus the Dodgers.

The one-oh pitch – Garret promptly lines it into right field. So a lead-off single and the next batter will be the DH, Ronnie Belliard.

Well we told you that, uh, Bill Veeck warned the mayor that he would pull his team out of Ocala, Florida, if they pulled him out of the segregated bleachers in Florida. Couple of years go by and Bill now becomes the owner of the Cleveland Indians. And in his mind, he never forgot that unfortunate incident in Ocala. And so deep in his mind, Veeck kept thinking, “I’m not sure I want my big club training here because the Dodgers had signed Jackie Robinson and Cleveland had signed the number two black player, Larry Doby. And he was worried about how Florida would treat Larry Doby.

Shot to first…short-hopped on the bag. That takes one out, now they have to get a tag and they do, so it’s a 3-6 double play and, just like that, two down.

So anyway, once Bill Veeck gets to own the Cleveland Indians, he convinces the San Francisco – then the New York Giants – to move to Arizona…leave Florida because of a possible racial problem. And they do. The Indians come over here. The Giants come over here. That kind of opens up the floodgates. Other major league teams had always trained in Florida…suddenly came to explore Spring Training in Arizona.

That’s a strike. Oh and one to Nick Green.

And so here they are today, the Cleveland Indians, who moved to Arizona for racial reasons – Larry Dobie etcetera and fears about it would be in Florida. The Dodgers, who signed the first black player, who really eased all of the tensions in Florida, Jackie Robinson and the Dodgers, and now today, in Arizona, these two teams meet, in what is just an exhibition game. But as we said, not really, at second glance.

Nice chopper to third. Good play there by Rodriguez. That will do it by Green. Story time is over. And at the end of two, Indians nothing and the Dodgers nothing.

AP photo


Josh S. said...

I'm glad I have this recorded. I haven't had a chance to go back and listen to the man tell it himself.

Also, it's nice to see something other than GA and the Bison when I hit refresh a million billion times.

eric nusbaum said...

That is amazing.

Neeebs (The Original) said...

Hey Josh: Isn't it bedtime yet? Now would be a great time for a nap.

Josh S. said... the phony meeting I set up didn't keep you occupied.

Greg Finley said...

Interesting! Just read this a few days ago in Bill Veeck's book. Thanks for sharing!

Kyle Baker said...

I think the beauty of these is, as you read it, you hear Vin's voice, his intonations, his pauses, his emphases. And that's the mark of a great broadcaster, someone who can leave you with an imprint of their call of the game days or years after the game occurred.

Loney Fan said...

I agree with you DB, I was thinking the exact same thing. I hope in 30 years I am still able to remember it as well as I do now.

Fred's Brim said...

totally agreed on hearing Vin's voice as you read it. The calling of the action in the middle of the stories really adds to it

Kyle Baker said...

Yep, FB. ANd the ironic thing is that despitea rather lengthy story, Vin still managed to get more play calls in and give the score more often than Steiner does.

Fred's Brim said...

I heard Charlie's too busy getting his home-run popup call ready for the season

Baron Von Chaos said...

Are there more of these stories on this blog?

That was amazing, and Vin is no doubt the greatest of all time.

Scottie said...

As a Dodger and Steve Garvey fan, I was very pleased to come across this great blog. I wish Vinny the best this season.