Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully—who really, truly belongs to the entire baseball world—is a wonderful storyteller. Atlanta Braves outfielder Jonny Gomes was once almost eaten by a wolf.
You put those two statements together, and you get this wonderful anecdote from Monday’s Braves-Dodgers tilt. Behold a broadcasting master.
Here’s what makes Scully great:
He spaced out that tale perfectly during the middle of Gomes’ at-bat, still giving the play-by-play, mind you—”So he walked up to the wolf and the man hollered at him, ‘No, it’s a real wolf. Don’t pet it.’ The 2-1 pitch in there. Well, the man ties up the wolf, goes around the corner to mend the fence, and Jonny goes back to the wolf… And the wolf attacks him, has knocked him down, and [is on] his chest, just about ready to devour him. Two-two pitch, check swing, no swing, ball three.”
And here’s what makes Gomes so great:
Just when Scully gave the story its punchline, Gomes singled to left field.
That wolf story isn’t the only time Gomes escaped death as a young man. In fact, according to Gomes, it’s happened five times. Check out this timeline in a story posted on WEEI.com in 2013:
The first incident came during Gomes’ freshman year of high school, when a candle tipped over, merged with the fluid inside a nearby lighter and set the sleeping bag the youngster was sleeping in on fire. The nylon material instantly started sticking to Gomes’ skin, trapping him inside the bag for a brief while before he could wrestle himself free.
A year later, on Memorial Day weekend, Gomes was involved in a severe car crash that killed one of his best friends, Adam Westcott. It also put Gomes in the hospital for two days while limiting the 16-year-old’s ability to walk for a short time.
His senior year of high school, Gomes was camping with some friends when, as he describes it, “an old, crazy moonshiner lit us up with a bunch of rounds out of a shotgun.” He managed to avoid harm by ducking behind a car, and scurrying away.
Christmas Eve in 2002 came perhaps the most well-publicized of Gomes’ near-death experiences, a heart attack. It warranted a trip to the hospital, with one of the three arteries that leads to the heart having been pinched.
I just wish Scully could have told all of those Gomes’ stories, as well. But the wolf tale will have to do for now.
Helluva story. Helluva hit. Helluva job by Scully and Gomes.
Photo via SD Dirk/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)