More On Mickey, Vinnie, And The Bryce

Told you Saturday that, although the Maestro himself can’t specifically recall it with certainty one way or the other, it appears that Vin Scully did more than just broadcast Bryce Harper’s first Major League game ever, at Dodger Stadium, on Saturday night. He appears to have also broadcast Mickey Mantle’s first (exhibition) game ever in New York, and his first appearance ever inside an actual big league ballpark.

In the late ’40s and early ’50s the Yankees and Dodgers would open up with a three-game series, right before Opening Day. In 1951, they began it on Friday, April 13, at Yankee Stadium. Mantle was flying back from Kansas City after a visit to a draft board, and missed that game. But he played at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn on the 14th and 15th.

The Dodger announcers in 1951 were Red Barber, Connie Desmond – and Vin Scully. There was no reason Vin should’ve been off the broadcasts that weekend, and now there is more evidence that he would’ve been very much needed in the both. In those days, those three men handled all of the radio and television for the Dodgers, switching from one to the other every few innings.

Sure enough, the impeccable Bill Francis of The Baseball Hall of Fame has dug up what I could not: Confirmation that the Dodgers-Yankees exhibition of April 14, 1951 – Mantle’s unofficial debut – was televised. Check out the entry for 1:30 PM on Channel 9, from The New York Times weekly tv listings, published on April 8, 1951:Channel 9 was WOR-TV, and they carried the Dodger broadcasts (the Yankees and Giants were on WPIX-TV, Channel 11).

Meaning that the odds that Vin Scully wasn’t at both Harper’s debut, and Mantle’s New York debut, have shrunk to just about nothing.


  1. peteviles

    What am I missing — why did the Dodger Stadium crowd boo Bryce Harper with such venom in his first big league game?
    There’s something a little Philly about the Dodger crowd latey — they turned on Billingsley in a heartbeat, and booed him roundly when he lost his shutout in the seventh inning against Washington Saturday night. Who are these people, Philly fans?

  2. Scott

    I was at the games this weekend and was a bit surprised as well. Frankly, I was a bit surprised that fans on a SATURDAY NIGHT (usually not quite the same baseball I.Q. as a Wednesday night crowd) even knew of Harper’s story. And it’s not like he plays for the Giants – the crowd would boo the Pope if he played SS for San Francisco!

    My guess is that enough of the crowd got wind that the “phenom” would be there and maybe felt like he was anointed with too much attention in the land of Kemp and Kershaw. They wanted it to be known that he would get no love from the L.A. crowd.

    I for one was excited to see how he looked, and he looked pretty darn good.

  3. Scott

    Oh, and thanks, Keith, for meticulously searching for the facts of this curious story. Vin Scully’s greatness has never been lost on most of us Dodger fans.

  4. Mary_Caruso

    Now how did I know you were going to dig up the most obscure factoid to prove your point? This shows me you will always go that extra step or mile for all your readers and fans. Thanks so much for showing what a wonderful person you are and proving that Vin Scully is forever a legend. He is timeless. Let’s keep our eye on Bryce, he may prove to be a gift.

  5. Michael Green

    Now, Keith, I told you about the TV listings in the previous comments section, so I want to be incomparable, too.

    I’ll also mention here, as I did in the previous entry, that Red Barber assigned the announcers. Vin once said that usually, he did only the 3rd and the 7th on radio, but at the time TV was the less important medium, so he would get some more time on TV.

  6. rochdalian

    The story that I’ve always heard about that series is that Casey Stengel walked The Mick through the Ebbets Field outfield before the first game. The Old Perfessor had been the Dodgers’ centerfielder when it opened in 1913 and had a lot of experience there, obviously. Casey wanted to give Mickey some tips about playing the angles and the wall, but apparently, Mantle didn’t grasp Stengel’s resume, prompting to say “Hey, Kid. You think I was born old!?!?!?”

    I really hope that’s a true story.

  7. Patricia Ellyn Powell

    I think you are right, Keith. It is logical. If only my daddy were still alive, he could tell us. Though it was partly because of the bets in the sports pool at Melody Grill downtown, he listened to one on the big radio in the adjoining dining room, one on the transistor radio with earphones, and watched one in black and white on TV simultaneously, with the newspaper spread open to the sports page reading about the games. His supper would be centered in that open sports section. Since they didn’t have all the high tech gadgets that kids play with now, we would simply watch him. He was something to see! Made Robert Redford look like Quasimodo.

    • Patricia Ellyn Powell

      Where was Mama? In the kitchen making his dessert. The good ol’ days were some good and some ol’. 😉

  8. ShoeBeDoBeDo

    Yes, yes, yes! You ARE the Maestro. 🙂 And we are your students. I always learn something when I come here. Actually, I learn a whole bunch of somethings about a sport I barely knew existed. 🙂

  9. Tom Hoffarth/Los Angeles Daily News

    I asked Vin about this today at the Dodgers’ ownership press conference. He said: “Back then, I was the third announcer (with Red Barber and Connie Desmond) and probably only worked the third and seventh inning. Honestly, I don’t remember exactly how that went, except that I did wonder how a kid from Commerce, Oklahoma could possibly play in cavernous Yankee Stadium before crowds 10-times larger than his own hometown.”

  10. David

    Thanks for the research … love these one degree of separation facts. After Jered Weaver’s no hitter yesterday, I was reminded of the fact taht his brother Jeff was the Yankee starter back in 2003 when the Astros used six pitchers to no-hit the bombers.
    Keep making connections to the past … baseball is after all the national pasttime … and we BB geeks appreciate the history lessons.

  11. Katherine

    Such a clever post. Its so nice of you to share all those information.
    I wonder how you get all of those. Thanks, keep it up!
    I love history , since I am really amazed.

    Cliquez ici to visit my website.

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