The Untold Story of Vin Scully and the Blarney Stone
A mastery of words is a skill that very few have been able to conquer.
Then there’s Vin Scully, a man who makes eloquence look easy, a poet, masquerading as a play-by-play announcer.
For 67 years, Scully has spun a web of language that has no equal. Did he memorize the dictionary? Spend his school years studying the poets of yesteryear? Was he born with a God-given talent?
No. Ask the man himself, and he tongue-and-cheek has a two-word answer for why he has become one of the greatest storyteller’s the world has ever seen.
That’s right. The ancient stone located atop the Blarney Castle with mystical powers rooted heavily in Irish lore.
Scully was born in the Bronx to an Irish mother who passed on her red hair to her only son. At the age of four, his father, Vincent Aloysius, died of pneumonia and his heartbroken and homesick mother decided to take her son back home to Ireland.
The Scullys landed in Dublin in the summer of 1932, just in time for the 31st International Eucharistic Congress where a huge majority of Ireland attended a mass in Phoenix Park held by Cardinal Lorenzo Lauri.
“They were saying mass in the streets in Dublin,” Scully recalled. “My father had died and I guess I was not quite five, so my mother, heartbroken, brought me back home and we spent quite a bit of time not only in Ballyconnell [The birthplace of his mother], but out on the farms wherever the family was.”
Scully and his mother explored Ireland together and made a stop in the small country town of Cork, located just a few miles from the imposing medieval ruin known as Blarney Castle.
So Bridget and her son made the same trek up the foremost tower that over 300,000 people a year do, to the powerful talisman known simply as, “The Blarney Stone.”
The origin of the stone is rooted in mystery and legend. It dates back to the 15th century around Cormac McCarthy, the builder of Blarney Castle. The story goes that McCarthy sought the assistance of Cliodhna, a Banshee Queen and goddess of love and beauty rooted in Irish mythology.
McCarthy was at the center of a lawsuit that could have cost him his castle, and Cliodhna told him to kiss the first stone he saw in the morning before he arrived at court. He did, and he was suddenly blessed with a golden tongue that enabled him to plead his case before the judge with eloquence and ease.
From that day forward, the legend goes, that anybody who kisses the Blarney stone will be endowed with the gift of gab, or an innate ability to speak with eloquence and flattery.
“My mother took me back to Ireland and I actually went and kissed the Blarney Stone,” Scully told ESPN’s Dan Lebatard when asked the secret of his speaking skills. “There’s an old legend about the stone, that if you kiss it, it will help you in speaking. So tongue and cheek, perhaps it’s that.”
However, kissing the stone is no easy feat. It involves tremendous courage and trust, as the stone is located in an inaccessible spot. It requires the kisser to suspend themselves upside down, with their legs held by another person, as they dangerously hang above a sheer drop in order to place one’s lips on the stone.
Scully credits his mother for instilling in him the courage to kiss the stone and his strength throughout his life. He calls his mother a “very strong” person, especially “spiritually, mentally and physically.”
“God has been very generous to me,” Scully expanded with Lebatard. “To be given the opportunity to do it at a very young age and then through the Lord’s grace, allowing me to do it for 67 years.”
Scully returned to Ireland on a detour from Japan when he travelled with the Dodgers to Tokyo in 1956. Alongside friends, he returned to Dublin and was able to attain an audience with the Pope, Pius XII, Euegenio Maria Guiseppe Giovanni Pacelli.
Scully is set to retire following the Dodgers final game of the regular season on Sunday, October 2, at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
KTLA, Spectrum SportsNetLA, MLB.com and AM570 on radio will all carry Scully’s final call of his career as the Dodgers face off with their longtime rivals, the Giants.
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