Vin Scully Receives Presidential Medal of Freedom


Vin Scully, FCRH ’49, pictured above at the Rose Parade, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Tuesday for his contributions to American sport culture (Courtesy of Flickr).

By Theresa Schliep

Vin Scully, FCRH ’49, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a White House ceremony on Tuesday surrounded by figures like Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Ellen Degeneres.

On Nov. 16, the famed Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster received a call from John Earnest, the White House Press Secretary, telling him the news. Scully replied with humility and shock.

“Are you sure you’re calling the right guy?” Scully asked Earnest when he heard the news, according to a video shared by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Twitter.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian honor, “presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors,” according to the White House.

Recipients included other sports figures like Michael Jordan and Abdul Jabbar, as well as other significant public figures like Lorne Michaels and Bill and Melinda Gates.

Scully helped found WFUV and was an assistant news editor for Volume 28 of The Fordham Ram.

“Vin Scully lifted sports play by play broadcasts to a high art, becoming the gold standard for the genre,” said Mark Conrad, JD, director of sports business concentration and an associate professor of law and ethics. “His on-air work was poetry, his exquisite delivery made strike calls into lyrical cadences. In so doing, he delighted baseball fans for seven decades”

Conrad said Scully deserves the honor.

“The Presidential Medal of Freedom recognizes those individuals who have made an especially meritorious contribution to the nation’s cultural and civil affairs,” said Conrad. “Mr. Scully has certainly met that standard.”

After awarding Scully the honor, President Barack Obama said Scully was shocked, and he had to explain to him why he was receiving the award.

“We had to inform him that, to Americans of all ages, you are an old friend,” said Obama on Tuesday at the ceremony.

After graduating from Fordham, Scully worked at CBS Radio Network. In 1950, he began his long career broadcasting for the Brooklyn Dodgers, eventually accompanying the team for their move to Los Angeles. Scully is the youngest person to have ever broadcast a World Series. He announced the 1953 World Series, which pitted the Brooklyn Dodgers against the New York Yankees. Scully was 25, and the Yankees won the title.

He was inducted into the 1988 National Baseball Hall of Fame.

At 88 years old, Scully concluded his career this year calling for the Dodgers in their Oct. 2 game. His career spanned 66 years.

In Issue 8 of Volume 28 of The Fordham Ram, the newspaper notes Scully’s passion for broadcasting.

“One of the most enjoyable things in the football season is Vin Scully’s Monday morning reports of the trials involved in broadcasting Saturday’s game. His kick-of-the-week currently is the white jerseys with the shiny gold numbers…Oh, yes, Happy Thanksgiving everybody…,” wrote Jack McNulty.

In a Fordham Ram column, “Too Little Too Late,” in Issue 3, Volume 28, Jack Chezek said he was grateful to Scully for his announcements of the Fordham football game versus Canisius College.

“Although I wasn’t able to ‘shuffle off to Buffalo’ this past week-end and therefore cannot give an eyewitness account of the Fordham-Canisius fray, nevertheless I feel as though I have a pretty vivid picture of what happened, thanks to the efforts of the dulcet voiced redhead, Vin Scully, and his WFUV associates,” wrote Chezek.