The passing of Vin Scully on Aug. 2 at the age of 94 has sent shock waves through Southern California. San Marino has not been exempted from the mourning as this community had several ties to the legendary sportscaster, who in 2016 retired from the Dodgers after 67 seasons with the team in Brooklyn and Los Angeles.
San Marino’s Scott Jenkins got to know Scully well during Jenkins’ stint as president of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses. Jenkins selected Scully as Grand Marshal of the 2014 Rose Parade, America’s iconic New Year’s celebration.
“The president of the tournament has two main choices,” Jenkins said earlier this week. “The theme and the grand marshal. I had made the choice of the theme, which was Dreams Come True, but it was a little tougher choosing the grand marshal.”
Jenkins said that he had frequently played the game of “who would you pick?” and had considered “many choices.”
“Vin was on my list of candidates, but he was not my top choice,” Jenkins said. When Jenkins eventually approached Scully, the legendary sportscaster was initially “reluctant.”
“He told me repeatedly ‘I am not the star,’” Jenkins said. “’The people who are on the field are the stars,” Scully continued. “’I am just the sportscaster.’”
Undaunted, Jenkins approached Scully’s wife, Sandi, and met with members of the Dodgers organization to help apply some needed “encouragement.”
“I told them that at Dodger Stadium it was hard to express affection for Vin,” Jenkins said. “But at the Rose Parade, 800,000 people, in person, can stand up and say ‘thank you’ to Vin. I think that is what eventually won him over.”
Jenkins said that his ideal grand marshal candidate had three qualities: integrity, humility “and being a real gentleman.” He said that Scully surpassed even his high expectations “in every way.”
He said Scully approached him on the afternoon of the 100th Rose Bowl football game which Jenkins oversaw as president and “got in my face.”
“He said ‘Scott, I have had an incredible life,’” Jenkins recalled. “‘I have seen some incredible things.’” Jenkins said that Scully affectionately punched him in the chest and said “‘but I have never, never, had a day like this.’ That brought me to tears.”
Jenkins and Scully stayed in touch up until his death and Jenkins was invited to Dodger Stadium on occasion to see Scully in action.
“What a special treat that was,” Jenkins said. “Sitting behind him in the press box, watching him work …” At this point Jenkins’ voice trails off.
“Growing up in this area, as a Dodger fan, I would go to sleep every night with my transistor radio under my pillow, listening to Vin Scully,” Jenkins remembered. ‘That was at a time when people would carry their radios to Dodger Stadium for games and you could just hear him throughout the park.”
Scully’s voice has clearly had a lasting effect on Jenkins, who said that he has kept a couple of recorded voice mails from Scully on his machine.
“It immediately brings you back to what a terrific human being he was,” Jenkins said. “That is why there has been such a huge outpouring of love and affection. Vin was a great role model at a time when we don’t have enough role models.”
Jenkins also said it was no coincidence that Scully passed away on the Major League Baseball trade deadline.
“On the trade deadline, Vin Scully joined the angels,” Jenkins said. “And that voice … it has remained the same.”
Jim Gott grew up in San Marino, starring in football and baseball before embarking on a 14-year career in the major leagues — the last five of which he spent with the Dodgers. He later worked for the Dodgers in several ambassadorial roles, many of which put him in touch with Scully.
“Vin was so kind, so classy,” Gott said this week. “He had a way of making everyone feel totally welcome and had an uncanny knack of remembering people’s names.”
Gott recalled a trip to New Orleans toward the end of his career, where the Dodgers were scheduled to play an exhibition game. After the game, then-manager Tommy Lasorda asked a few players to stick around and interact with a large group of fans who had assembled around the field. Scully was included in the group of Dodgers.
“Out of nowhere, Vin stood up and gave the most incredible, sincere 10-minute talk that I have ever heard in my life,” Gott said. “Most people would have to prepare for days to pull it off, but for Vin it was off the top of his head. He was magical in the way he was able to connect with people at every level. He is going to be missed.”
Jaime Jarrin, the Dodgers’ Spanish-language broadcaster and friend of Scully since1959, has been a San Marino resident since 1965, where along with his late wife Blanca, the Jarrins raised their three sons, Jorge, Jimmy and Mauricio. In 2008, Jarrin received the Ford Frick Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame. His relationship with Scully “transcended baseball,” Jarrin said.
“This has been very tough, very tough,” Jarrin said of Scully’s death. “He was very special to me. We spent so much time together while we were on the road. He was the finest broadcaster of sports who ever lived. No question about it.”
Jarrin said that Scully had a special gift that set him elevated him above his counterparts.
“Sometimes people are all around you asking for autographs and pictures, and he had the greatest patience with people, especially with children,” Jarrin said. “He would stop and spend time with children. He would take pictures. He enjoyed doing that. He was a very special person.”
Scully was “like family” to Jarrin. “He was important member of my family,” said Jarrin. “My wife, Blanca, loved him very much. When she passed away, he spent a lot of time talking with me and he helped me through that difficult time. He told me to go right back to work and I followed that very good advice. I was so fortunate to spend as much time with him as I did.”
His son, Jorge Jarrin, known to a generation as “Captain Jorge,” is also known for his radio and television reporting.
“We knew that Vin’s health had been failing as of late,” said Jorge Jarrin. “But despite knowing that, when word got to us, it was a very sad jolt. I think that ever since his beloved Sandi passed away [January 2021], it was just a matter of time. A very devout Catholic, he missed her so, and took comfort in knowing they would be united once again. Theirs was a truly beautiful marriage. We will miss him; we will miss them both. Vin was a true gentleman in every sense of the word. A finer friend, you could not have. What a blessing he was.”
San Marino resident Scott Daves met Scully through his more than 40 year association with the Jarrin family. Daves’ father, who recently passed away, was born the same year as Scully: 1927. Daves said that he and his father had decidedly different tastes in music, but bonded through their shared affection for Scully and the Dodgers. Jarrin encouraged Daves to travel to Vero Beach, Florida, for spring training in 2008 — the Dodgers’ final season at that venue.
“One night, Vin was ‘holding court’ with Tommy Lasorda, Sandy Koufax and some other Dodgers,” Daves remembered. “I met Vin that week and over the years I would drop by Dodger Stadium to see him since his press box was right next to Jaime’s. Vin was always pleasant, always knew my name and always said ‘hello.’ It was more than just a baseball broadcast with Vin. It was more like a history lesson.”
Over the years, Daves photographed Scully and Jarrin at several events and even took a photo that Scully greatly admired.
“It was on the day of his last broadcast from Dodger Stadium,” Daves said. “In the photo, you can see his wife, Sandi. Vin asked for extra copies. That was pretty nice, to have created something that was so liked and appreciated by Vin Scully.”
A member of the angels, indeed.