Heels’ big loss was big win for Vin Scully

Sports announcer Vin Scully traces his career break to a painful loss suffered by UNC’s football team.

It was 1949, and CBS radio had just agreed to give the 21-year-old Scully a tryout, calling in updates for Red Barber’s Saturday afternoon football roundup. Barber dispatched him to cover Maryland vs. Boston University at Fenway Park.  Despite the unexpectedly primitive conditions — without coat or gloves he had to stand on the roof in the cold wind with a hand mike and a long cord — Scully remembers the day fondly:

“I got lucky. The big game that day was supposed to be Notre Dame-North Carolina, but that turned into a rout (42-6), and my game was a thriller, so I was called in more often for reports.”

Barber was impressed with the novice’s performance, and by the next baseball season Scully had joined him in broadcasting Dodgers games — which he still does today, 62 years later.


How N.C. helped keep Red Barber in Brooklyn

[After Larry MacPhail of the Yankees made an offer to radio announcer Red Barber to leave the Dodgers, Branch Rickey made a counteroffer for him to stay.]

“I was deeply troubled that Rickey’s offer might be because MacPhail’s offer had put him on the spot, that in time he might regret having had to make such an offer. Sometimes in our needs a completely unplanned, unprepared, unrehearsed response breaks through.

” ‘Branch,’ I began, ‘down in North Carolina recently — in fact, the day my dad was to be buried — the kinfolks and friends from all around gathered at my aunt’s house. There were so many there they had to stand in the yard. They didn’t come to mourn, they just gathered like a clan, to sort of strengthen everybody. They just visited.

” ‘One fellow said to another, “Jim, what did you ever do with the piece of land you had down on the South Carolina line?” And Jim said, “I found me a willing buyer.” ‘

“Rickey got up from behind his desk, walked around to me, stuck out his hand and said, ‘I’m a willing buyer.’ ”

– From “1947: When All Hell Broke Loose” by Red Barber (1982)

In 1954, after a contractual dispute,  Barber did switch to the Yankees. Later in life he and Bob Edwards chatted weekly on NPR.