He was known as the poet laureate of baseball, possessing an uncanny ability to weave in lyrical stories about the game and concluding them just before the third out of an inning.
But one night in the early 1970s, it took an assist from a visiting Houston Astros pitcher for Vin Scully to beat the commercial break.
“What was unique about Dodger Stadium is you could hear Vin talking on all the different (transistor) radios — imagine the soundstage,” longtime Southern Nevada resident Jerry Reuss said in confirming an often-told story about the legendary broadcaster who died Tuesday at age 94.
“I couldn’t hear what he was saying, but I could tell by the timbre of his voice that he was in the middle of a story. So I stepped off the mound to let Vin finish. I walked behind the mound, grabbed the rosin bag and Vin got to the end of his story.
“I stepped back on the mound and then here’s Vin, without missing a beat: ‘Reuss ready to deliver, winds, and here’s the pitch …’ ”
Reuss called it the greatest segue of all time. After becoming a Dodgers broadcaster himself, Reuss said he told Scully about purposefully stepping off the mound that night.
“He had a laugh about it, and then he told me about the history of the transistor radios, and how (fans) brought them from the Coliseum to Dodger Stadium. He was the best in the business,” Reuss said.
Around the horn
— Reuss won 220 games during a major league career spanning 22 seasons, including a 2-1 complete game for the over the Yankees in the 1981 World Series. But none was more memorable than the no-hitter he pitched for the Dodgers against the Giants when only a throwing error by shortstop Bill Russell on the first play of the game precluded him from tossing a perfect game.
It doesn’t get much better than throwing a no-hitter with Vin Scully recording it for posterity, Reuss said.
— Scully was the second sports luminary who died this week, after Boston Celtics great and civil rights activist Bill Russell passed away Sunday at age 88.
The 12-time NBA all-star and the bulwark of a Celtics dynasty that produced 11 league championships during his 13 years was friends with the Gaughan family of Las Vegas. He once watched Brendan Gaughan drive at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Bullring.
“He thought I was a crazy fool,” Gaughan said. “But he called me after my (NASCAR) wins and that was always cool, having Bill Russell say ‘Nice job.’ ”
The racer’s father, South Point owner Michael Gaughan, played freshman basketball at the University of San Francisco after Russell led the Dons to NCAA national championships in 1955 and ‘56. Brendan Gaughan would briefly play at Georgetown under John Thompson, one of Russell’s backups with the Celtics.
“When I was probably 11 or 12 years old, I loved coach Thompson, but I had no clue who Mr. Russell was,” Gaughan recalled about once pulling on Russell’s pant leg to summon him for his father. “Dad said Coach Thompson had played with Mr. Russell. I said: ‘You played basketball with Coach?’
Gaughan said he can still hear Russell’s trademark cackle.
“He said ‘Son, it’s never been said to me that way but yes, I played basketball with Coach.’ ”
Bill Russell was notorious for not signing autographs. But that didn’t stop local author Jack Sheehan from trying to pull a fast one after a friend who gives former athletes golf lessons set them up at Bear’s Best.
“I signed the scorecard, which I never do, and said ‘Bill, at Southern Highlands, where I’m a member, we turn in our scorecards to keep our handicaps, and they always like to have them attested by a playing partner. Would you sign this for me?’
“I slid the scorecard across the table. He saw that I was smiling, started to laugh and said ‘Nice try, partner.’ ”