Was Vin Scully almost the Yankees’ voice?
Late broadcast icon nearly changed New York broadcast history
Good morning, all. Hope your week is off to a great start.
We lost a giant in the passing of broadcaster Vin Scully last week. Scully lived a full life, dying last Tuesday at the age of 94. He broadcast Dodgers games in Brooklyn and Los Angeles for 67 seasons and worked the national stage on radio and television, broadcasting baseball, football and golf. But did you know New York baseball broadcast history nearly changed?
Scully was courted by the New York Yankees in 1965 - through an ad agency executive -to broadcast their games. It would have meant a return to New York for Scully. It would have meant a reuniting with his mentor, Red Barber, who was part of the Yankees broadcast crew and hired Scully, when he was the lead broadcaster of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
The Yankees, who were coming off their fifth consecutive American League pennant, entering 1965, were undergoing major changes. Co-owners Dan Topping and Del Webb had sold 80 percent of the club to CBS. (Webb sold his remaining 10 percent to CBS in Feb. 1965 and Topping sold to the network in Sept. 1966.) In a stunning move the club fired manager Yogi Berra, after he led the Yankees to the seventh game of the World Series, only to hire the skipper whose club beat his Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals manager Johnny Keane. There were major changes in the broadcast booth too. Mel Allen, the popular, long time “Voice of the Yankees” was fired, so there was room for Scully.
As we all know, Scully stayed in Los Angeles and Joe Garagiola was hired to replace Allen. Coincidentally, Scully and Garagiola would successfully team up as the NBC Game of the Week baseball broadcast crew from 1984-89. (Scully, by the way, was also considered for the first ABC Monday Night Football booth.)
There is so much of Scully’s work on the internet, including You Tube, but I leave you with this interview Scully gave to another broadcast icon, Dick Enberg, in 2016, the last seasons for both broadcasters. Enjoy!
Speaking of CBS
Sunday will mark the 58th anniversary, when news broke that the Yankees were sold to CBS. As the headline in the NY Daily News mentions, the story of the sale was leaked by iconoclastic Kansas City Athletics’ owner Charles Finley. Chicago White Sox owner Arthur Allyn was also peeved. The two thought American League president Joe Cronin rammed approval of the sale to CBS through league owners, leaving out Finley and Allyn, because they opposed the deal. The two were concerned the perennial champion Yankees would continue their dominance because of CBS’ deep pockets.
The idea of a broadcast entity assuming ownership of a major league sports franchise was so concerning, that Cronin needed to hold another vote, including Finley and Allyn. Congress also staged hearings and even threatened baseball’s antitrust exemption. In the end, CBS placated congressional concerns and their purchase was approved. The concerns expressed by some big league owners also turned out to be misplaced. The Yankees were bad to mediocre, during CBS’ stewardship and the network never made Yankees telecasts part of their primetime lineup nor bid to win baseball’s national television contract. (Another worry among owners. CBS did televise weekend Yankee games nationally to markets without major league clubs through 1965, under a pre-existing contract.)
CBS sold the Yankees in 1973 to a group headed by George Steinbrenner and the rest is history.
Trading deadline an internet hit
Last week’s MLB trade deadline was a digital hit. The flurry of trades led to 11.5 million article views on its platforms and the trade deadline show on the MLB network was the second-most-watched. Only time will tell if the trades will work out, but the intrigue of the deadline was a grand slam for the sport.
That is it for this week’s newsletter. As always, thank you for your support and have a terrific week.