Last week, it was announced that retired Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully would receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama. The medal is the highest honor given to a civilian, meant to honor those “who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
The ceremony was held on Tuesday afternoon at the White House. Scully was one of 21 recipients. Others included Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Bruce Springsteen.
Here’s video of President Obama introducing Scully:
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The game of baseball has a handful of signature sounds. You hear the crack of the bat, you got the crowd singing in the seventh-inning stretch, and you’ve got the voice of Vin Scully. Most fans listen to a game’s broadcast when they can’t be at the ballpark. Generations of Dodgers fans brought their radios into the stands because you didn’t want to miss one of Vin’s stories. Most play-by-play announcers partner with an analyst in the booth to chat about the action. Vin worked alone and talked just with us. Since Jackie Robinson started at second base, Vin taught us the game and introduced us to its players. He narrated the improbable years, the impossible heroics, turned contests into conversations. When he heard about this honor, Vin asked with characteristic humility, ‘Are you sure? I’m just an old baseball announcer.’ And we had to inform him that, to Americans of all ages, you are an old friend. In fact, I thought about him doing all these citations which would have been very cool, but I thought we shouldn’t make him sing for his supper like that.