Web Analytics

Vin Scully, a Storytelling Role Model

communication
Vin Scully telling stories at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles

 

By John Millen

Most of my clients are business leaders. When teaching them storytelling I urge them to find role models of storytellers they appreciate and try to understand why they are so successful.

I do this myself and was honored to contribute to a just-published book about a person I consider one of the most effective and endearing storytellers of all time: Vin Scully.

Scully was the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers (and the Brooklyn Dodgers before they relocated from New York) for 67 years. If you’ve never heard Scully’s voice, imagine hearing the most engaging, yet relaxing voice sharing a series of short, always-interesting stories for a couple of hours. I urge you to find Scully on YouTube to hear what I mean.

The recently published book is Perfect Eloquence: An Appreciation of Vin Scully. It was edited by Tom Hoffarth, a four-decade sports journalist who covered the Dodgers and knew Scully well. Despite persistent requests, the humble Scully, who passed away in 2022, had declined many offers to write a book about his life.

Hoffarth decided to document Scully’s life by gathering remembrances from a wide-range of people, including fellow broadcasters, historians, players, celebrities and others. There are many great stories including Ray Charles telling Bob Costas that his dream was to someday meet Vin Scully, and Costas bringing them together.

Hoffarth and I have never met in person, but we both attended Hawthorne High School in Southern California (home of the Beach Boys). We were introduced a few years ago by Konnie Krislock, the high school journalism teacher who inspired us and many others to become writers and communication professionals.

Hoffarth asked me for input on Scully’s storytelling gifts. Here’s an excerpt of my contribution to this wonderful book. My only editing was to shorten paragraphs for this newsletter.

This is reproduced from Perfect Eloquence: An Appreciation of Vin Scully, edited by Tom Hoffarth, by permission of the University of Nebraska Press. Copyright 2024 by Tom Hoffarth:

 

The Voice of a Storyteller

John Millen, CEO and founder of the Reputation Group, helps leaders develop communication skills. When teaching storytelling, recommends his clients consider using the Power of 3 technique.

Basically, a story should have a clear beginning, middle, and end – a setting, some conflict, and a clear resolution. That makes the story clear, understandable, and memorable.

Using Scully as an example, Millen explained how that could be taken to another dimension –– masterfully weaving any sort of story between the beats of the first, second, and the third outs of an inning.

"Vince Scully had every talent of an effective storyteller, employing the classic storytelling arc, that's used in every medium, including movies, TV shows, and novels," said Millen, who grew up in Southern California.

Millen, a Dodgers fan who didn't listen much to sports broadcasting, could appreciate hearing Scully based on his engaging voice and storytelling ability.

"More important than his understanding of this tool, Vin's greatest talent was his ability to flex this format in and out of the game’s action and expand and contract the story on the fly to perfectly fit the time available,” Millen said.

As an example, Millen found a clip on the MLB's YouTube channel in which Scully explained the origin of the Dodgers–Giants rivalry. It was a TV telecast from San Francisco, as the Dodgers’ Kenta Maeda pitched to the Giants’ Brandon Crawford and Angel Pagan to get the last two outs of the bottom of the first inning.

Millen noted how during that time Scully set up the story, talked about an inciting incident, described rising action in the season, explained the climactic final two games, and recounted the success of the Dodgers in winning, the failure of the Giants losing, and their ultimate failure with the Cardinals winning the pennant. It was all brought together as the inning ended.

"In a minute and thirty-four seconds, he has taken you on a journey, while updating you on the game in between––how did he do that?" Millen marveled. "It's just phenomenal.”

The kicker is that Millen didn't realize the video he referenced for Scully’s storytelling excellence came from the very last game of his career on October 2, 2016, a few weeks shy of his eighty-ninth birthday––amazing to the end.

 

Scully is another great example of why you should look around your everyday life for examples of outstanding storytellers. Like stories themselves, role models are everywhere.

Rest in peace, Mr. Scully.

 

You can learn more on Tom’s LinkedIn profile, or the book’s webpage.

 

Image: LA Dodgers / Major League Baseball 

I love listening to

audio booksĀ 

Ā 

I've written hundreds of articles on this site. My secret weapon for learning is listening to books while I'm driving, walking or working out.

By clicking the green button below you'll get a 30-day free trial of Audible to kickstart your own learning.

Happy listening!

John Millen

* We may earn a commissionĀ from links on our site. We only offer products and services we know and trust.

7 Tips for Giving a Memorable Wedding Toast

Jun 22, 2024

Moon Shot Leadership Lessons

Jun 15, 2024

How to Practice Your Presentation

Jun 08, 2024