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Decoding Vin Scully

Vin Scully In Thursday's Opinion pages, author Jon Winokur pays tribute to Vin Scully, who begins his 62nd season as the Dodgers' announcer.

Vinny -- the fan intends no disrespect -- is gifted with such powers of description that he is called "the poet laureate of baseball." But he knows when to keep quiet: He uses crowd noise the way a painter uses negative space, silently letting the energy resonate. He also knows precisely when to start talking again in that genial baritone, speaking just to you.

Winokur also nods his hat to some of Scully's one-liners, such as: Bob Gibson "pitches as though he's double-parked." That's not all. Click after the jump for the official Vin Scully lexicon.

A modest thing but thine own: A cheap hit.

Back, a waay back … it's gone!: Home run call.

BB: A very good fastball; that is, it looks like a pellet to the batter.

Big butter-and-egg man: A slugger; a batter who reliably delivers with men on base.

Blur: A hard line drive.

That breaks the spell: The hit that ruins a no-hitter.

Bring one with him: Execute a drag bunt.

Celery stalks: The sound of a cracked bat.

Climb the ladder: Jump high to catch a ball.

Counting string: Keeping track of consecutive scoreless innings, hitting streaks, etc.

Deuces wild: Two on, two out, with a 2-and-2 count on the batter; wilder still if the score is also 2-2 or there are two men on base.

Down and dirty: A breaking ball that finishes in the dirt.

Flare: A short pop-up.

Forget it!: Home run call.

From me to you: By a big margin; that is, “He was out from me to you.”

Go quietly: Make three quick outs in an inning.

Hang it: First baseman leads pitcher coming to the bag to make a putout.

In business: In position for a big inning; as in “With men on first and third with nobody out, the Dodgers are in business.”

Little nubber: A soft grounder hit off the end of the bat.

Little roller: A soft grounder along the first- or third-base line.

Major-league popup: A very high fly ball.

Marching and chowder society: The group of friends and family that has come to the game to watch a player; as in "The Russ Mitchell marching and chowder society.”

Oh-fer: Hitless so far; that is, zero ("O") for three, four, etc.

A Pier 6 brawl: A donnybrook.

A rabbit is loose: A fast runner is on base.

Rearrange the furniture: Reset the defensive alignment.

Room service grounder: The fielder doesn't have to move to catch it.

Seeing things with their hearts: Describes, say, excessive cheering by the crowd for a routine fly, or booing an umpire for what is actually a good call.

Shuffling his cards: The catcher is reflashing the signs to the pitcher.

Smoke ring: A zero; that is, “Another smoke ring goes up on the scoreboard.”

Soap bubble: Dodgers pitcher Vicente Padilla's slow curve.

Standing room only: Bases are loaded.

Stats 'n' stories: Scully's near-endless supply of anecdotes, most of which are better in the retelling.

They're moving around in the bullpen: A relief pitcher is preparing to warm up.

Wear out: Performing consistently well against another team or pitcher -- "Brad Hawpe (George Foster, Jim Ray Hart) just wears out the Dodgers."

Wrinkle one in: Drop a curveball into the strike zone.

Up jumped the devil!: A familiar and predictable downfall, as when a gopher-ball pitcher allows a home run at the worst possible moment.

Zinzinnati: Cincinnati. After radio comedian Jack Pearl, whose trademark line was "Vass you ever in Zinzinnati?"


Op-Ed: Why not rename the L.A. Dodgers the Yang-nas?

Photo: Vin Scully, with then-Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley to his left, calls a game at Brooklyn's Ebbets Field in the 1950s. Credit: Los Angeles Dodgers


Comments () | Archives (21)

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Forgot one of my favorites

Wormburner: a hard-hit ground ball.

Michael Racine

it's Marchers and Shouters Society. Chowder???

Michael Green

The interesting thing is, Vin is NOT a phrase-maker, per se. Red Barber, his mentor, coined or popularized a lot of them. And Vin will tell you he doesn't operate that way, yet 62 years of doing so many games inevitably lead to terms being associated with him. Which does nothing to diminish this: Vin is the greatest broadcaster ever to sit behind a microphone. Period.


Why not canonize him and be done with it?


He epitomizes the Dodgers unlike the those other scum bags the McCourts.


Not only a Los Angeles icon but a sports icon. A true warrior of description, he has the uncanny ability to paint the most vivid of portraits.

Why there isn't a statue for him at Dodger Stadium, I do not know.

Oliver Trager

Vin -- the Rembrandt of the art form.
Those interested in baseball on the radio, might want to check this out:


You missed the catcher, "wig-wagging a sign," the pitcher "staring in," "pull up a chair," and "before the seats are warm."


Deuces wild should say at the end: wilder still if the score is also 2-2 or it is the second inning (or the batter is #22, etc, etc). Two men on base was part of the initial criteria.

Also you forgot "can-o-corn" meaning an easy pop-fly out.


@Michael Racine - I think the author/article is right though the phrase is obscure. Google it and you get lots of results.


Vin's announcing is paralyzingly dull! When is he going away?


To Schigolch...

Eric Collins, is that you?


Baseball is boring, no cheerleaders, fat nosepicking managers arguing with the umpire! MMA ias a MANS sport, baseball is an event.


What with the season beginning this evening, I was naturally hearing the voice of Vin Scully in my head. And then my sister emailed me this article. After reading it, it dawned on me that next to my late father, the one mail voice I've heard more in my life than any other is . . . you guessed it, Vin Scully!


Missed my favorite, too. "One-man Gang": a batter who's been so successful for a given period that he's carried his team's offensive load by himself. "In the last month, Adrian Gonzalez has hit 12 homeruns and has 40 runs batted in--yeah, he's been a real one-man gang."

And it actually is "marching and chowder society".

Native Angeleno

Vin, HOFer, has been canonized.

Yes, it's chowder. Old service club/political marching band term.

2 of my favs i haven't heard from him since maybe the '70s: "And Cey BELTS it and it's gone...And Buckner makes a CIRCUS CATCH!"

Ari Gold

One of the greats, but not great when he called ex pitcher Dustin Hermanson, Dustin Hoffmanson.


And as nice a man as you could ask for. Even when a middle-aged, overweight guy almost knocks him down in the press box hallway during the seventh inning stretch.

Thanks, Vin for making the game great to this fan.


Careful Schigolch or HRH vin-dawggie will order his minions that bask in his 'genius' to hunt you down and smite you.

'vinnie' - always sunny always pure always (whatever....)

Allen Gronsky

I've been listenting to the "Voice of Summer" since my youth in New Jersey and one of the things I love the most about Vinny is during a televised game when the camera finds a little child in the crowd. Mr. Scully makes a comment that makes you believe he is every childs grandfather. Dodger Stadium does indeed need a Statue or a Brass Placque of Vin Scully. Beyond a shadow of doubt Vinny you're the best at describing a baseball game that there ever has been or will be. What a man, and oh what a sweet voice, you are Mr. Baseball and we love you.

Bob Wolff

I'm so happy that Vin Scully decided to do one more season. Can't imagine what it'll be like when he retires. One thing missing from the list above is Vin's penchant for using the "deuces wild" phrase whenever possible ("two and two, two on, two out", etc). Never annoying, but rather charming.



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