It’s a truism that we lose celebrities in bunches. We lose everyone in bunches, really, famous or otherwise.
But when the bunch includes some of our storytellers, I pay a little more attention.
And so, in a time when Hollywood passings fill the headlines, my own eye wanders to the microphone and the keyboard. Simple places. Places of magic.
Places that, for a while, were the homes of Vin and David.
Vin Scully was the greatest of American baseball announcers. No argument. Also, no frills. In a television era, he brought the tools of his radio days: constant description, constant stories, with no signature catchphrase or verbal pyrotechnics. Baseball suited him like no other sport could have, with a pace that allowed him to put just the right word in just the right place … or even no words at all, in times when a few seconds of silence would say it all.
David McCullough? So often, the subjects of his histories were the overlooked: landmarks so common that we’d stopped thinking about them or presidents we’d passed by. The Brooklyn Bridge. The Panama Canal. Harry Truman. All gained a new day in the spotlight through his pen. One of his best-known biographies even wound up turning John Adams into a television star – a fate the notoriously cranky Massachusetts lawyer might have regarded with a bit of bemusement.
And somewhere along the line, the Voice of the Dodgers and the popular historian reminded us that there aren’t’ any ordinary moments. Not really.
Because if you look closely enough, the extraordinary can wait anywhere.
When I used to work as a newspaper reporter, I spoke to a lot of kids about the profession. I always said that my favorite part was that everyone had a story waiting to be told.
Not everyone, they’d insist. Not me. And so I’d spend a few minutes asking questions, listening to the answers, sharing the neat stuff. We never once failed to find a story worth hearing.
I still believe it. We’re walking story generators, each and every one of us. We live, we learn, we experience. In the words of the musical Hamilton, “We rise and we fall and we break and we make our mistakes.”
And a lot of times, we fail to notice it.
No surprise, really. We’re all busy living that life, after all. We have bills to pay and families to worry about and a million things knocking at our door (some of them with car warranty offers). It’s easy to get pulled into the illusion of sameness, to think that most things don’t really matter all that much.
That’s the power of a storyteller. To pull back the cloak of the ordinary and reveal the magic that we’ve forgotten to see.
Wonder and purpose. Humor and sympathy. The same no more, but truly unique.
Even in a forgotten bench player in a midsummer baseball game.
Even in a one-term president from an age no longer our own.
And yes, even in each of us.
And so, here’s to Scully and McCullough … no, that sounds like a law firm. To Vin and David. Here’s to the words they shaped and the moments they opened.
Thank you for the stories you saw and shared with all of us.
May your own stories never be forgotten.