Driving to San Diego…

I finished teaching at a men’s retreat yesterday and left the mountains heading for San Diego.  I’d been given a backroads way to travel, which was both beautiful and sparse; horse ranches and orange groves, hillsides in full bloom with spring wildflowers, all with the snow clad higher peaks reflecting the afternoon sun, off to the east.  I love these kind of drives.  They’re a ripe environment for pondering.

I turn on the radio and start fiddling with the AM little realizing what’s about to happen.  “Good afternoon!” says the familiar voice.  “It’s a great day for baseball in Dodger stadium.”  It’s Vin Scully, the voice of the Dodgers.  You have no way of knowing what his voice does to me, because you didn’t grow up in my family – a baseball family everywhere.  I heard Vin at my grandparents farm because they were Dodger fans, their farm being just far enough south of Fresno to push them into “Southern” California.  My aunt was a Dodger fan too, and so we listened to games in San Luis Obispo, on the coast, when we vacationed there.  Later I’d listen with her when I was going to college there.  Later still, in Los Angeles, while I was attending seminary, my wife and I would listen to Dodger games, announced by Vin.

Yesterday was Vin’s 60th anniversary as the ‘voice of the Dodgers’, and as I’m driving and listening to the game I close my eyes (metaphorically of course, I’m driving!) and can see me as an 8 year old playing baseball in the backyard of my aunt’s house, with the voice of Vin in the background.  There I am, on the beach with my grandparents for a picnic.  We’re listening to Vin as the Giants play the Dodgers.  There I am, in the peach orchard during the harvest.   It’s the Dodgers and the Giants, and Vin is calling the game, his voice painting word pictures of baseball.  There I am, married, in a hot apartment in LA, listening to the Dodgers, and Vin, on the radio, while get ready to go to evening class.  And now, here I am, with grown kids of my own who are scattering the globe these days, driving to San Diego and Vin is calling the game on the radio, just like it’s 1966 again and I’m 8.  Talk about nostalgia.

Baseball was a thread in our family.  It’s one of the reasons I love “The Brothers K”.  Sometimes yesterday, I was thinking about how much the world has changed since I was eight.  I’m driving past malls as I get closer to San Diego, and these malls could be anywhere: Target – Bed/Bath – Red Robin.  We’re global now, not local.  We’re big now, not little.  We’re so deeply interconnected that a volcano in Iceland means unemployment for a flower picker in Kenya.  The voice of the Dodgers is still the same, but the times, they’ve been a changin’.

When the mall disappears though, I return to thoughts of my family, and say a prayer of gratitude for the legacy of faith, farming, and simply values rooted in Christ, that is my heritage.  All of it was tied together with baseball, and few voices embody what that means for me more than Vin.  Fittingly, yesterday’s game was against the Giants, my favorite time, and the classic California rivalry.  Just as I pulled off in San Diego, the Dodgers hit a two run home run, to win it 2-1.   I’ve lived this drama of a close Dodger Giant game easily over a hundred times in my life, and it was refreshing to live it again yesterday – with Vin – even though the Dodgers one.

Congrats Mr. Scully.  You’ve been a guest in my family for decades, and I’m grateful.

About Richard Dahlstrom

As Pastor of Bethany Community Church in Seattle, Richard teaches with vision of "making the invisible God visible" by calling people to acts of service and blessing. It's working, as a wilderness ministry, homeless shelter, and community meals that serve those living on the margins are all pieces of Bethany's life. "We're being the presence of Christ" he says, "and inviting everyone to join the adventure." Many have, making Bethany one of the fastest growing churches in America in 2009 according to Outreach Magazine.

  • Kyle

    Great post Richard, thanks. There was a great write up in the Times last week about a Holman’s nearly perfect game, and it was interesting to read all the comments from people who knew right where they were and who they were with, just like Vin’s voice reminding you of that 8-year old boy.

    Times piece — http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/mariners/2011619147_holman16.html

  • Kyle

    Great post Richard, thanks. There was a great write up in the Times last week about a Holman’s nearly perfect game, and it was interesting to read all the comments from people who knew right where they were and who they were with, just like Vin’s voice reminding you of that 8-year old boy.

    Times piece — http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/mariners/2011619147_holman16.html

  • raincitypastor

    baseball is, for some reason, a more powerful memory trigger than other sports – not just for me, but for a lot of people

    • Patrick

      I still like to burry my face in my mitt and inhale the scent (and dirt) because it takes me back so quickly…so vividly.

      You’ll have to come to one of Bethany’s co-ed softball games this spring.

  • raincitypastor

    baseball is, for some reason, a more powerful memory trigger than other sports – not just for me, but for a lot of people

    • Patrick

      I still like to burry my face in my mitt and inhale the scent (and dirt) because it takes me back so quickly…so vividly.

      You’ll have to come to one of Bethany’s co-ed softball games this spring.

  • http://iammarshall.net Rich

    I remember growing up (in southern cal) listening to Vin on my transistor radio with the little white ear phone, under the covers because it was past my bedtime. To this day I get sleepy when I hear his voice.

    By the way, thank you for such an awesome sermon up at Forest Home this past weekend it was really energizing! I was part of the small group from Crossroad’s Community Church that made the trek from Camarillo.

    So glad to cross your path!

  • http://iammarshall.net Rich

    I remember growing up (in southern cal) listening to Vin on my transistor radio with the little white ear phone, under the covers because it was past my bedtime. To this day I get sleepy when I hear his voice.

    By the way, thank you for such an awesome sermon up at Forest Home this past weekend it was really energizing! I was part of the small group from Crossroad’s Community Church that made the trek from Camarillo.

    So glad to cross your path!

  • Ryan Thomas

    Nice to hear those to nostalgic thoughts; amazing what a voice, a song, a story can do to us. There are those times when all else falls away and life seems richer, we see more clearly, and the distance between heaven and earth seems miniscule. Oh, the thin places!

  • Ryan Thomas

    Nice to hear those to nostalgic thoughts; amazing what a voice, a song, a story can do to us. There are those times when all else falls away and life seems richer, we see more clearly, and the distance between heaven and earth seems miniscule. Oh, the thin places!


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