It was Friday afternoon, and in a press box no bigger than a Beverly Hills walk-in closet sat Vin Scully, the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the past 67 seasons. He was pushing pen to paper, preparing for a 7:10 p.m. start against the Milwaukee Brewers, a game the Dodgers would later win, thanks to a 10th-inning walk-off single from Justin Turner. Inside, the booth had a historical feeling to it. It was as if time had slowed, and Scully’s legendary calls had been etched into the walls for all to read.
What few realize is that behind those memorable moments sits a tight-knit crew of more than 40 people working seamlessly to bring a televised game to air. Since 1989, stage manager Boyd Robertson and camera operator Rob Menschel have been in the front row, and they’re the first to tell you that a Scully game is different from any other game.
“People are watching to hear what Vin is talking about,” says Robertson. “A lot of effort goes into the show. We’re all listening to him, following his lead and reacting to the story by supporting him with something he may like.”
|Home Game: Scully, at Dodger Stadium circa 2012 Chris Williams/Newscom|
Robertson is the Teller to Scully’s Penn, passing him game notes, lineup changes, promos, stats from statistician Brian Hagan, and timing cues — everything funnels through Robertson before making its way to Scully for consideration during the telecast. Menschel not only operates the most important camera in baseball, dubbed the “high home” for its position behind home plate, but he also directs.
“The beauty of this game is it allows you to do or say all these things between pitches and batters you don’t get with any other sport, and Vin’s preparation is off the charts,” Menschel says. “As a director, you can put something up on the screen, and chances are pretty good he’ll say something almost poetic about it.”
A typical day starts hours before game time. Menschel will prep the room while Robertson meticulously researches the opposing team before a producer drops in to pass along promos or any voiceovers. They’ll then record Scully’s game preview and the “It’s time for Dodger baseball” intro using a Sony HDC-2570 handheld camera equipped with a Fujinon lens.
Menschel uses a grid of nine Litepanel light sources to illuminate Scully for day or night, sliding in filters when needed to color-match the cameras on the field.
Connecting the broadcast to the audience at home is Mira Mobile’s 53-foot production truck, equipped with all the latest technology. In the front, where the producer, director, and technical director sit, a wall of monitors links 19 cameras and various feeds. Behind them sit the graphics team and assistant director, the latter of whom synchronizes with the SportsNet LA facilities in El Segundo. One of the most important production pieces in sports is the replay, and helping the nimble-fingered editing crew assemble those moments are six-channel EVS XT3 servers that send and receive video to and from the El Segundo studios.
|• It takes more than 40 people to bring a televised game to air.|
|• During the first three innings of each game, the Dodgers simulcast Scully on radio and TV using a single mic.|
Unique to the Dodgers broadcast: The team will simulcast Scully on television and radio during the first three innings of each game. Using a single mic, the audio goes from the booth to the truck and is fed back to the radio booth where the radio producer/engineer is on headset with the truck producer so everything is in sync.
“The first three innings are really different for Vin because he has to paint more of a picture for the radio audience,” Robertson notes. “Once we’re in the fourth, we split off, and Rick Monday and Charley Steiner take over, with Vin concentrating just on TV.”
On that Friday afternoon, as the first pitch approached, Robertson, Menschel, and the rest of the crew were fully aware of how thoroughly prepared Scully was. It didn’t faze them that they were witnessing the greatest ever — they were just happy to be part of Scully’s unbelievable run.
“When they ask me what I’m going to miss the most after retiring,” Scully says, “I say it’s the roar of the crowd — that’s what really excites me. But working with these guys has been an absolute pleasure. They’re the salt of the earth. I don’t like to tell them that, but they are.”