The Los Angeles Dodgers honored their legendary announcer, Vin Scully, with a bobblehead giveaway Sept. 23 for the first 40,000 fans who attended the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
That’s right – Scully, the 87-year-old hall-of-famer who recently announced he would return to the Dodgers’ broadcast booth in 2016 for an astonishing 67th season, is being honored with … toys.
Is that all?
Don’t get me wrong. Bobbleheads are a charming and popular collectible item to be sure, but is that the best the Dodgers can do to recognize this Sports Lifetime Achievement Award winner who has been with the franchise since 1950? Scully deserves more. It is also true that the press box was named after him nearly 15 years ago, but frankly that was a no-brainer.
Several writers and Dodgers fans have suggested that a statue of Scully be erected in front of Dodger Stadium. That’s not a bad idea and while I’d prefer statues be reserved for players and managers, I’d certainly support it – but I have a few better ideas.
For the record: There are currently no statues at Dodger Stadium.
In April, Dodgers President Stan Kasten announced a project to erect a statue of my childhood hero, Jackie Robinson, at the stadium to honor the African-American player who broke baseball’s color barrier over a half-century ago. The Robinson statue would be the first of its kind at the stadium, and Kasten indicated it might be the first of a series. Other candidates for future statues could include Sandy Koufax, Tommy Lasorda, Fernando Valenzuela, Pee Wee Reese and others. We shall see if this ever comes to pass.
Scully is a beloved figure whose passion for baseball, knowledge of the sport and insight into the moves of every single player has made baseball a memorable part of the childhood of many current Angelenos who grew up listening to him. But it is more than that: His modesty, civility, sense of fairness and good will, congeniality and regular displays of character are all too rare in today’s world.
During the long and storied history of the Dodgers organization, players, coaches and owners have come and gone, but Scully never left. He stayed loyal to his team, loyal to the sport, loyal to the players and loyal to his fans. He just stayed.
Here is what I propose: A visit to Chavez Ravine would be much more meaningful if Stadium Way, the generically named road that goes around Dodger Stadium, were renamed “Vin Scully Way.” The idea actually came from one of my very best friends, Ross Goldberg of Westlake Village. Ross, like his father before him and Ross and Debbie Goldberg’s son, Josh, is a devoted Dodgers enthusiast. The newly named Vin Scully Way would pay homage to the man whose dedication to the Dodgers helped draw thousands of fans to the stadium each season.
Alternately, a statue of Scully could go in another prominent L.A. location, such as in downtown, where thousands of people beyond baseball fans would see it. City Hall is one such location. Or, a Scully statue could go at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where the Dodgers used to play before moving to Dodger Stadium for the 1962 season.
There is precedence for this sort of thing elsewhere. In Chicago, a statue memorializing legendary Chicago broadcaster Jack Brickhouse sits along the famed Michigan Avenue, near the Chicago River Bridge. Brickhouse, who broadcast Cubs, White Sox, Bulls and Bears games during his career spanning more than 40 years, died in 1998.
The L.A. landscape is already dotted with many places named after memorable people important to the city whose names are part of L.A. culture: Mulholland Drive, Griffith Park, the Getty Center, John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Broad museum and UCLA’s Jackie Robinson Stadium, to name a few. It’s past time to add Scully’s name to the list with a roadway or landmark recognizing his achievements.
After the announcement that Scully would return for the 2016 season, he said at a press conference that the season would probably be his last. Bearing that in mind, next season would be the perfect time for city officials to announce the renaming of “Vin Scully Way” at Dodger Stadium. I’d be one of the first fans to make a visit.
Ritch K. Eich is principal at Eich Associated, a strategic marketing and branding firm in Thousand Oaks, is the author of three leadership books.
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