Kevin Bender

I became enthralled by Vin Scully in the summer of 1977 when I was living in Isla Vista and started listening to the Dodgers. I was sleeping on friend Dave Gutierrez's balcony, and each night he would make Mexican food and we would listen to Vin. I had grown up in Oceanside in San Diego county and my grandparents were Dodgers fans, but as a child I was a Mickey Mantle fan.

The Boys in Blue went all the way to the Fall Classic that summer of '77 and I was hooked. On them and on Vin.

Jump to the fall of 1986 in Berkeley and I'm listening to Vin and Sparky Anderson call the playoffs on the radio. I got the idea of doing a documentary about baseball announcers. I'd co-produced one short documentary about TV evangelist Peter Popoff, but never done a film completely on my own.

In 1988, I got together with Dana Atchley and Ken Kelley. Ken knew Ernie Harwell from Detroit and Ernie  helped us line up five other Hall of Fame broadcasters: Mel Allen, Red Barber, Jack Brickhouse, Jack Buck and Curt Gowdy. I listened to Larry King's radio shows in those days and asked him to host the documentary. I found funding from visionary Jim Jimirro in L.A. and Ball Talk was born. My only disappointment was that Vin politely declined to participate.

With Ernie and Sparky in Oakland in 1989
Ball Talk was the springboard that enabled me to produce two more sports documentaries in the early 90s: The Golden Decade of Baseball and Sports' Greatest Rivalries.

I then took a hiatus from filmmaking and the USA by moving to Sweden with my lovely Swedish wife. I did produce two wonderful daughters while I was there.

We all moved back to Southern California in 2007 and I resumed filmmaking. I produced and directed Thinking Grande!, a documentary about a Mexican immigrant who spent twenty years building a 'Mexican Disneyland' in the heart of California. That film was well-received and won the 2010 Pacific Southwest region Emmy Award as Best Cultural Documentary.

I've never lost my astonishment at Vin Scully's genius, and now in 2014 he still talks to me almost nightly during the baseball season. In this blog I want to celebrate how the spoken and written word engages, entertains and educates us about baseball and sports. 


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