Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Flower of Los Angeles

I don't have a lot of influence around these parts.

I'm just an ink-stained wretch who bares his soul on these pages for the amusement and entertainment of our readers.

Or as Gene Fowler once wrote, "Writing is easy. All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead."

But I am here today to right a wrong, comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, view with alarm, all those things that responsible newspapers are supposed to do.

Specifically, I am here to chastise the Tournament of Roses.

They have done a hell of a job running the Rose Parade for a century or so, making it into a must-view international event long on beauty and family values, short on gimmicks and bad taste.

But for too many years, the Rose Parade folks have ignored in their selection of grand marshal the most visible, most beloved, most celebrated citizen of the greater Los Angeles area, a man who as much as anyone defines the word "institution."

And time may be running short for the opportunity to salute his remarkable talent.

I speak of Vincent Edward Scully, the melliflous and knowledgeable voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers for 59 years.

He has been named California Sportscaster of the Year 28 times, he received the Ford Frick Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, was honored with a Life Achievement Emmy Award for sportscasting and induction into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1995, and was named Broadcaster of the Century by the American Sportscasters Association in 2000.

He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of fame. There is talk of erecting a statue of him at Dodger Stadium.

Through the power of his voice, he has almost single handedly made the Dodgers one of the top drawing franchises in all of sport.

His popularity has crossed generational, economic and racial lines.

But he has never been grand marshal of the Rose Parade.

Last year, writing about Scully, I said, " When I think of a half-century of Dodger baseball...there is one constant that remains when all the seasons and players begin to blend together in memory.

"That is Vin Scully. Back in the days before every game was televised, Scully was the Dodgers. his voice on the radio meant spring was here. When Scully called the Dodgers, it was time to get the lawn furniture out, fix a cool drink and listen to the drama unfold as only a master story teller could describe it.

"It is Scully who said, 'He (Bob Gibson) pitches as though he's double-parked.'

"It is Scully who described pitcher Tom Glavine as being 'like a tailor; a little off here, a little off there and you're done, take a seat.'

"It is Scully who called Stan Musial 'good enough to take your breath away.'

"It is Scully who said, 'It's a mere moment in a man's life between the All-Star Game and an old timer's game.' "

Scully doesn't announce a game. He sings it. In his hands, it is grand opera.

"Criticizing him is like criticizing Shakespeare," wrote Gary Kaufrman. "You can do it, but you say more about your own foolishness than anything else."

We have watched while tournament officials honored an omlette flipper, a cartoon mouse, a frog puppet, various actors and actresses and inummerable politicians.

This year's theme is "Hats Off to Entertainment" and president RonaldH. Conzonire who picked the theme also gets to select the grand marshal.

Not that the theme makes a great deal of difference.

Last year's theme was "Passport of the World's Celebrations" and featured TV chef Emeril Legasse as the honoree. Go figure.

In 2005, it was "Celebrate Family" and Mickey Mouse was selected. I was never quite able to connect the dots on that one.

So whatever theme the Rose Parade people come up with, Scully fits.

I don't know if he has been asked to be grand marshal in the past and declined. He is as self-effacing as he is talented.

But he rode on the Dodger 50th anniversary float last year so we know he's not adverse to getting up in the middle of the night to motor down Colorado Boulevard.

On Friday, Sept. 5, 2008, Scully announced that he intended to continue calling games through the 2009 season at age 80. It will be his 60th season with the team.

And its high time he rides at the front of the parade.

If you agree, contact the Tournament of Roses at 391 South Orange Grove Ave., Pasadena, CA. 91184. Send them a letter. Ask your friends and family to send them a letter. Send them a copy of this column. Or e-mail them at :

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