Jim Robson says that radio signals in the 1950s were such that you used to be able to listen to game broadcasts of both the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants loud and clear, 1,500 to 2,000 kilometers north in Greater Vancouver.
Robson, who would go on to become the longtime voice of the Vancouver Canucks, always picked the Dodgers back then when there was a conflict because of the way Vin Scully handled the play-by-play.
That was a part of Scully’s 67 years calling Dodgers Major League Baseball games.
Scully died Tuesday at age 94. His fan club along the way included Robson.
“I think he was the best baseball guy I ever heard. Everybody has their own opinion and a lot of that depends on who you grow up listening to, but it was Vin Scully for me,” said Robson, 87. “He had a way about him. He just called Dodger games, but he was always very fair. He worked by himself. He told stories, but he never did it at the expense of missing out on what was going on in the game. You never missed out on what was happening. ”
Robson came into the National Hockey League with the Canucks for their inaugural 1970-71 season, calling both radio and TV games. He stepped away from radio games after the 1993-94 season and finished his TV duties after the 1998-99 campaign.
Robson’s 47-year overall broadcast career saw him call more than 2,000 NHL games on radio and television and lead to him being inducted into the BC Hockey Hall of Fame and BC Sports Hall of Fame, along with receiving the the Foster Memorial Award from the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992.
Robson said he and Scully crossed paths a couple of times. There was a Canucks road trip to Minnesota back in the day. Robson was with Babe Pratt, who worked as both a Canucks goodwill ambassador and a Hockey Night in Canada analyst, in the lobby of the team’s hotel.
Scully was there, too. He was in town for a speaking engagement. Robson and Pratt went over to introduce themselves and Scully knew who Pratt was instantly. Scully was born and raised in New York, where Pratt had starred for eight seasons with the New York Rangers, including helping the Rangers win the Stanley Cup in 1939-40. That undoubtedly played a role.
Robson said he and Scully spoke briefly about play-by-play, including how Robson had called Vancouver Mounties minor-league baseball games.
“It was a short visit,” Robson remembered. “We didn’t talk long. He was still very approachable and still very impressive.”
Robson said they would connect again for a brief time in a press box in Los Angeles years later. It was again brief, but Robson said that Scully was “gracious.”
Among Robson’s favorite Scully calls was a game between the Dodgers and Colorado Rockies when North Delta native and University of BC product Jeff Francis was pitching for the Rockies.
“He talked about how Francis didn’t panic in his delivery and put the ball exactly where the catcher needed it to tag the guy out,” Robson said. “He was so full of praise for Francis not losing sight of what he needed to do. There was something about the way he complimented Francis and the way he was able to describe it all.”
Robson’s own love for baseball lives on: He’s a regular in the Nat Bailey Stadium stands for Vancouver Canadians games.
Vin Scully, Hall of Fame broadcaster for Dodgers, died at 94
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