Vin Scully, 94, who was celebrated for his mastery of the graceful phrase and his gift for storytelling during the 67 summers he served as the announcer for Dodgers baseball games, first in Brooklyn and then in Los Angeles, died Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles.
For all the Dodgers’ marquee players since World War II, Scully was the enduring face of the franchise. He was a national sports treasure as well, broadcasting for CBS and NBC. He called baseball’s Game of the Week, All-Star Games, the playoffs and more than two dozen World Series. In 2009, the American Sportscasters Association voted him No. 1 on its list of the “Top 50 Sportscasters of All Time.”
Scully offered no gimmicks and shunned trite expressions. He called the play-by-play for the Dodgers’ local TV and radio broadcasts without a color analyst, lest he lose his connection to the viewers and listeners he invited to “pull up a chair.” In 1982, he was elected to the broadcasters’ wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame. In 1995, he received an Emmy Award for lifetime achievement in sports broadcasting.
Robert E. Simanek, 92, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for saving his fellow Marines from grievous injuries or death by falling on a live grenade hurled by Chinese Communist troops during a battle in the Korean War, died Monday in West Bloomfield, Michigan. He had been among the last three Korean War veterans still alive to have received the medal, the military’s highest award for valor. His death, in a hospital, was confirmed by his daughter, Ann Simanek Clark.
Bill Russell, 88, whose defensive athleticism at center changed the face of pro basketball and propelled the Boston Celtics to 11 NBA championships, the final two when he became the first Black head coach in a major U.S. sports league, died July 31. A longtime Mercer Island resident, he also coached the Seattle Sonics for four seasons.
When Russell was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1975, Red Auerbach, who orchestrated his arrival as a Celtic and coached him on nine championship teams, called him “the single most devastating force in the history of the game.”
Russell was remembered as well for his visibility on civil rights issues. He took part in the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and was seated in the front row of the crowd to hear Martin Luther King Jr. deliver his “I Have a Dream” speech. He went to Mississippi after civil rights activist Medgar Evers was murdered and worked with Evers’ brother, Charles, to open an integrated basketball camp in Jackson. President Barack Obama awarded Russell the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011, honoring him as “someone who stood up for the rights and dignity of all men.”
Mo Ostin, 95, who in more than three decades as the powerful chief executive of Warner Bros. Records made a point of putting the artist first, in the process encouraging the most important works of musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young and Prince, died July 31 at his home in Los Angeles.
After a corporate power struggle led to his departure from Warner Bros. in 1995, he helped form DreamWorks Records. There he signed fresh mavericks like Rufus Wainwright, Elliott Smith and Nelly Furtado. For all his success, Ostin underplayed his role in public. He granted very few interviews and kept a low profile on the party circuit. Still, the industry recognized the significance of his work. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2003, and the Recording Academy honored him with a President’s Merit Award in 2014 and a Trustees Award in 2017.
Fidel V. Ramos, 94, who succeeded Corazon C. Aquino as president of the Philippines, and from 1992 to 1998 presided over robust economic growth, political stability and reconciliations with communist insurgents and Muslim separatists, died July 31 in Manila. He had suffered from a heart condition and dementia.
Nichelle Nichols, 89, the actress revered by “Star Trek” fans for her role as Lt. Uhura, communications officer on the starship Enterprise, died July 30 in Silver City, New Mexico. The cause was heart failure.
Nichols had a long career as an entertainer, beginning as a teenage supper-club singer and dancer in Chicago, her hometown, but she will forever be best remembered for her work on “Star Trek,” the cult-inspiring space adventure series that aired from 1966-69. Uhura was an officer and a highly educated and well-trained technician who maintained a businesslike demeanor while performing her high-minded duties. Nichols was among the first Black women to have a leading role on a network television series, making her an anomaly on the small screen, which until that time had rarely depicted Black women in anything other than subservient roles.
Pat Carroll, 95, who after many years on television as the self-described “dowager queen of game shows” went on to earn critical acclaim for her work on the stage, died July 30 at her home on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Carroll broke into television as a sketch comedian in the 1950s and later became a fixture on game shows and guest appearing in sitcoms. As roles dried out, she commissioned Marty Martin, a young Texas playwright, to write a one-woman play for her about poet Gertrude Stein. “Gertrude Stein Gertrude Stein Gertrude Stein” opened off-Broadway in 1979 and received glowing reviews. Carroll won Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards in 1980 for the performance, and in 1981 her recording of the play won a Grammy Award in the “best spoken word” category.
Nick Garrison, 47, remembered as a theatrical force in Seattle and beyond, died of as-yet-undetermined causes July 26, while hiking on the Burke-Gilman Trail, according to his sister Lisa Wooley.
David Schmader, in an appreciation of Garrison’s career, wrote that “It’s not enough to say that Garrison was packed with talent. He was one of those performers with a surplus of talent — capable of hitting any note, communicating any emotion and nailing any joke, with enough talent to spare to make it all look spontaneous, effortless and joyful.”