Before taking over the play-by-play duties for CSUN Baseball in 2016, Ross Porter spent nearly three decades announcing Los Angeles Dodgers games alongside legendary broadcaster Vin Scully.
In early October at the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts (formerly the Valley Performing Arts Center), Porter took center stage for An Evening With Ross Porter, taking guests down memory lane while reminiscing about his legendary career. The Matador Band and Matty the Matador welcomed fans to the event and guests in attendance included CSUN baseball student-athletes, CSUN Baseball Head Coach Greg Moore, the Soraya Executive Director Thor Steingraber and other campus administrators. CSUN Baseball fan and frequent broadcast booth visitor Richard Kaufman ’77 (Music), who also wrote the CSUN fight song, served as host for the evening, which benefited the nonprofit organization Stillpoint Family Resources.
Here are some of Porter’s reflections on memories and people that he shared during the evening.
On his new family at CSUN:
“It has been a great thrill for me to not only resume my announcing, but to be associated with this program, this great university, Greg Moore and these players. Coach Moore is one of the finest individuals I’ve ever met, and it’s been a thrill to be associated with him.”
On his routine broadcasting for the Dodgers and CSUN and how he prepares for games.
“When I started with the Dodgers in 1977, I realized I did not have the library of stories as Vin Scully had. I thought to myself ‘I love numbers.’ Somebody once said baseball is the soul of statistics. I thought to myself, ‘What if I do something that’s a little unusual?’ So I began putting into a bluebook that I kept the individual matchups: Dodgers vs. the Reds; Don Sutton pitching; Pete Rose batting. How did they do? Rose went 1-for-4 with a double. Every night I’d update the book. I’d refer to the book and use stats a lot. Over the years I drew some criticism since I probably overdid it. I was so proud of my research that I wanted to use it. Of course, I’m one of the the maybe top 2 million notetakers of all time. I read a lot of articles, a lot of magazines and what I did was, anytime I’d see something on a player or team, I would write that on a sheet of paper. It could be something like a person on the Philadelphia Phillies caught a 400-pound tuna in the ocean. I’d write that down and keep it in my Phillies file for the next time the Dodgers have it. Now, it’s so easy because of the internet to pull these things out.”
On Kirk Gibson’s legendary walk-off home run against the Oakland Athletics in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.
“I went down to the bottom of the Dodger clubhouse to get ready for the postgame show since it looked like they were going to lose. Gibson, who had two bad knees and wasn’t playing in the game, was sitting on the trainer’s table with his shirt off. He’s looking up at the television monitor and Vin Scully says on air to [announcer Joe] Garagiola, ‘Joe, I’ll tell you one guy who won’t be playing tonight for the Dodgers, he can barely walk. That’s Kirk Gibson.’
“Gibson heard it and yelled to the Dodger clubhouse attendant Mitch Poole to tell [Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda] that he can play. Mitch comes back saying that Tommy wants him to get dressed and ready, but don’t show yourself so the Oakland manager doesn’t know you’re available. Before the game, Dodger scout Mel Didier, who was scouting Oakland for three weeks, told the hitters that on a 3-2 count, Dennis Eckersley will throw you a backdoor slider.
“Eckersley, Hall of Fame relief pitcher for Oakland, gets the first two outs and it looks like the Dodgers are dead. Mike Davis got a walk and when he went to first, Gibson went up to bat. The first two pitches were strikes and he was in trouble. Davis proceeds to steal second base. Then it’s two balls and two strikes, then three balls and two strikes. Gibson stepped out, thought about what Didier said, stepped back in and what did Eckersley throw him? A backdoor slider. Gibson looked like he took a one-handed swing out of the ballpark and everyone goes wacky. That was the only at-bat Gibson had in the World Series and it was voted the No. 1 sports moment in Los Angeles sports history.”
On working with Hall of Famer Vin Scully.
“I’ve said this about Vin, here’s the man who was the most popular man in the state of California. He was once asked to run for governor and he told the political chairman to give him 48 hours to think about it. He told me after about five seconds he made up his mind, but wanted to be polite to the man. I saw Vin Scully in every situation he could be in. I saw people come up to him, ‘Mr. Scully can I have your autograph? Mr. Scully can you pose for a picture with me?’ Never, ever did I see Vin Scully rude to another person. We know he’s the greatest baseball announcer ever, but he was also and still is a tremendous human being.”
On the LA Times’ Story about Porter during his first year at CSUN in 2016.
“When [CSUN Associate Athletic Director, Strategic Communications] Amy Millstone told me the LA Times was running the story on me on the front page, I said ‘In the sports section?’ she said ‘No, the front page of the LA Times, unless Donald Trump says something outlandish and then you’ll get bumped.’ Fortunately, he didn’t and I was on the front page. Greg Moore had the front page framed for me and now it’s sitting on the wall in our home.”
Porter also spent time talking about StillPoint Family Resources, an organization founded by his son Ross Porter and his wife Jennifer that helps special needs families.