After the LA Dodgers clinched the NL West on October 3rd, Joe Torre allowed backup catcher Brad Ausmus to manage the Dodgers the following day in their regular season finale – a 9-5 win over the Colorado Rockies.
That inspired the legendary Vin Scully to weave a story into his play-by-play that afternoon of the time that he managed the Dodgers from the radio booth.
The folks from the “Sons of Steve Garvey” blog wrote down what Scully had to say:
If you don’t mind me reminiscing, thinking about Brad Ausmus being the manager. I actually managed the Dodgers during a game.
The pitch is off the plate.
Walter Alston was the manager of the Dodgers and we were playing a game right here at Dodger Stadium, and we used to have a headset in the dugout for interviews and also, when you got in a tough pennant race, guys liked to hear scores of other games.
One-one pitch and that’s a strike, one and two.
Anyway, it was like today, many years ago, about 1965, and the phone rang in the booth and it was Walter Alston. And he said, “Look, I’m going to wear the headset, and you manage.”
And we were on the phone during a commercial break.
I said, “You’re kidding.”
He said, “No, I want you to manage.”
I said, “All right.”
He said, “The only thing, you gotta be quick.”
I said, “Well, I’ll try.”
Two and two the count to A.J. Ellis.
Ron Fairly was the runner at first base and Ron had consumed a bit of champagne the night before, during the celebration. ‘Cause in those days, you won the pennant, it was really a big deal.
That’s a drive into center for a base hit, so Ellis will pick up a run batted in as he picks up Casey Blake, and the Dodgers lead four to nothing, and maybe this isn’t a bad time to talk about my managerial experience.
They get the ball now for A.J. Ellis, his first big-league hit and run batted in, so it’s a big day for him.
Anyway, to get back to me [laughs] and that’s a terrible way to put it, but I think you’ll understand.
Here is Vicente Padilla.
So anyway, Fairly got to first base, and now I know that Alston is listening, and so is the crowd. In those days, everybody had transistor radios.
And the pitch is ball one.
So I said, on the air, “You know, I hate to do this to my friend Fairly, and I know he’s not feeling well, he’s full of champagne, but — I want him going.”
And so — here’s the one-oh pitch. Fouled back.
And Alston flashed the sign, and the crowd now is into the game, and they see Fairly take the greatest double-take you ever saw, looking in to the manager as if to say, “Are you kidding? The day after we won the pennant, you’re going to run me?” And so he started to run. The pitch was fouled off.
One ball and one strike the count, next one’s outside. Two balls, one strike.
And now again talking to the crowd, and I said, “You know, I just hate to do this, but Walter Alston has always taught me: If it’s a good play, come right back with it.”
Well, Alston again flashes to Fairly: I want you to go.
Pitch is inside, ball three.
And Fairly now absolutely can’t believe it. But, like a good soldier, he follows orders.
He takes off, the pitch is in the dirt, it gets away from the catcher, and Fairly collapses at second base with a stolen base.
The pitch to Padilla a strike. Three and two.
Now I’m looking to get off the stage. I mean, that’s enough.
So then I said, “Alston, I got you this far. The rest of the game you’re on your own.”
And Fairly was at second base.
So my one moment as a manager in the big leagues.
Runners go, three-two pitch swung on and missed, got the story in just in time. And for the Dodgers, they pick up a big four. And at the end of an inning, Dodgers four, Rockies nothing.
A great story, wonderfully told by Scully.
The closest I ever came to “managing” occurred back when I was the announcer for the Syracuse Chiefs and our skipper was Bob Bailor.
I was young and single at the time and used to hang out in his office for hours after the games enjoying a beverage or two while talking baseball.
One night I decided to chime in with some ideas on how he should change his batting order and proceeded to present what I considered to be the ideal starting lineup.
The next day when I got to the ballpark, “my” lineup was posted on the clubhouse wall and I began blabbering to anyone who would listen about how I had brilliantly convinced the manager to change his lineup. I probably even predicted an offensive explosion thanks to my genius.
I went to the radio booth and filled-in my scorebook with all of the names and stats and was just about to begin the pre-game show when I got word that Bob had gone back to his old lineup and my painstaking scorebook prep was useless.
Naturally, the team scored a bunch of runs without my help and went on to have a great season.
And I learned an important lesson: The radio guy should keep his mouth shut . . . until he’s on the air of course.