Pepperdine honors Scully

Pepperdine honors Scully

In a ceremony as pacific as the ocean behind the tented stage and grandstands Saturday morning, the 2008 class of Pepperdine University's Seaver College were conferred with Bachelor's degrees.

Dodgers legendary announcer Vin Scully, who was Pepperdine's commencement speaker and recipient of an honorary Doctorate of Laws degree, the highest honor the university bestows, imparted his life's wisdom that he has collected over a 59-year career in baseball, and did so with his signature eloquence, and graceful humor.

"He was amazing," said Tiffany Blevins, proud recipient of her degree. "He said things that really inspired me and the other students."

Scully was introduced by Dodgers president and vice chairman Jamie McCourt. In her introduction, she characterized Scully as "our knight in shining armor in this baseball fairytale."

Scully had many other friends in the crowd. After he received his degree, the graduating class removed their graduation caps, and replaced them with Dodgers caps.

"We had so much fun with the hats," said Blevins. "We did it to show our respect and appreciation for Vin."

Said fellow graduate Dustin Picciolo, "It was a tip of our cap to him, to show respect."

The mantra of Scully's address was "very difficult, but possible." In those four words he punctuated a day that symbolizes the end of a rigorous course of study and the beginning of opportunity, and the promise of purposeful life.

He spoke of ballplayers of whom most have never heard. Tom Sunkle, Herb Score and Claude Genard, all of whom pitched in the Major Leagues, but with only one eye.

He spoke of Marty Stratton, who lost his leg and pitched in the big leagues, and for two seasons in a row won 15 games.

He spoke of Lou Grissey, a platoon leader in World War II, who after being shredded with shrapnel, and after an excruciating 24 operations, pitched in the big leagues for six seasons.

"Very difficult, but possible," said Scully to the graduates.

After regaling the crowd with his examples of conviction, he used a passage from Ernest Hemingway's "A Farewell to Arms" to reinforce the belief in one's determination.

"The world breaks everyone, but people come back stronger in the broken places."

As the students' names were called, they were greeted by rock star cheers from friends and family. Bouquets under one arm, balloons tied to the other, they grasped their diplomas and their sense of accomplishment that comes after four, or more, years of study, growth, and introspection.

Very difficult, but possible.

Colin Gunderson is a member of the Dodgers' public relations department. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.