By Rob Ficiur
The following are sports stories you won’t see again. You ask, “How do you know we won’t see these stories again?” The following have never happened before. If it has not happened before, chances are pretty good You Won’t see it again.
1. Sixty Seven Years on the Job – This summer Bob Miller, the TV voice of the LA Kings, is recovering from open heart surgery. Miller missed the final months of the Kings season, but expects to be back in October to broadcast his 44th season of NHL hockey for the LA Kings. In most circles, the 77-year-old Miller working on his 44th season on the job would be considered a senior veteran. In Los Angeles, there is a sports broadcaster who had two decades more experience than Miller.
Vince Scully the TV voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers is more than half way done his 67th year as the Dodgers broadcaster. Working a demanding broadcasting job at age 88 is a remarkable feat in itself. A quick internet search showed met hat Scully is still younger than a few dedicated workers out there.The following are some ninety year olds who are still on the job: Ninety-year-old hospital worker with 70 years’ experience; a 90 year old nurse in Tacoma Washington; a Milwaukee man celebrated his 91st birthday fixing windows at a local hard ware store. No doubt there are other stories of dedicated workers older than Vince Scully.
As a broadcaster Vince Scully has put in more years of service than anyone. A year ago The Guinness Book of World Records recognized Vince as the longest serving broadcaster for a single team. Calgary Flames fans were in awe of Peter Maher when he did over 30 years of Flames radio broadcasting without missing a game. Maher, who retired two years ago, would have had to broadcast for the Flames until 2047 to reach Scully like numbers.
Vin Scully made his first radio broadcast in April 1950 for the Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1950, teams did not their own jets to commute from city to city. However they did not need them. Only the two Chicago and two St. Louis teams were outside the Eastern Time zone. In 1950, the Detroit Red Wings, led by 21-year-old Gordie Howe and league MVP Ted Lindsey won the Stanely Cup in the six team NHL.
In 1950, World War 2 had been over for just five years, and the cold war was heating up. A few days before Scully’s first broadcast the President of North Korea went to the Soviet Union to meet with Joseph Stalin. Later that week, in Czechoslovakia, 90 people stole three planes and made the largest (to that day) escape from behind the iron curtain.
This week I listened to Vince Scully call a Dodgers Cubs game. Scully was amazing to listen to. He knew that the batter’s grandfather was – and how big his [the grandfather’s] hands were. Scully still knows his baseball. After her retires at the end of this season, you won’t see someone else like him.
2. Youngest Ever – From oldest we go to youngest. On August 17, 2016 Blue Jays reliever Roberto Osuna earned his 47th career save. That gave Osuna more saves than any pitcher in baseball history before they turn 22. Roberto will continue to add to that record as his 22nd birthday will not occur until after the season is over. As we honor this record, I realize that there are a few disclaimers to the record. In the past most pitchers did not begin their duties as a closer until after a stint as a starter. Baseball’s top three save leaders of all time did not begin their closer’s role until there were 25 and 26 years old. I also know that in the more distant past the rules and emphasis on a closer were not what they are today.
Nevertheless Roberto Osuna has done remarkable things nearly two seasons as the Blue Jays reliever and closer. His numbers prior to last season did prepare us for the pitcher he has become. However, prior to 2014 even the most avid optimistic fans could not project Osuna as a Major League player by age 22. In 2012, Roberto had a good year at rookie ball with a 1.50 ERA; in 2013 his 5.53 ERA in Single A did not look great; then his 2014 average of 6.55 (again at single A level) told us that Osuna would be a long term project.
Osuna and fellow rookie Miguel Castro pitched their way on the 2015 starting roster. Longtime fans don’t get excited about spring training stars. Most of them are back in the minors before June. The Jays tried to use Castro as a closer and that found out early that that was not a fit for him. Now nearly two years later Castro has an Earned Run average of 6.40; showing he was another rookie who had a great training camp but needs time to develop.
Osuna has gone the other way. He is getting better as his saves accumulate. The Jays have surrounded him with veteran support this year. Veterans Jason Grilli and Joaquin Benoit have 129 combined saves in their careers. However, he got here Roberto Osuna holds an all-time baseball record of most saves earned before the age of 22. Since it has never happened before the chances are we won’t see this again.