Legendary Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully experienced a major dose of deja vu last week on Vin Scully Bobblehead Night.
Fifteen of his 16 grandchildren were present and one of them, Louisville (Woodland Hills, Calif.)
High School sophomore volleyball standout Mackenzie Luderer, helped launch the festivities by singing the national anthem. Eleven years earlier her mother, Catherine Luderer, had done the same thing when the Dodgers' press box was dedicated to Scully.
The 84-year-old Hall of Famer told MaxPreps, "I thought back to Catherine singing the Anthem and I had the same feeling from Mackenzie. The first thing, I was scared to death, hoping she didn't crack. It was fear, relief and, bless her heart, she didn't crack."
Said Sandi Scully, Vin's wife of 38 years: "I could hardly breathe. (Their daughters and granddaughters) have been blessed with Vin's voice. He could have been a song and dance man. Catherine bought a karaoke machine and taught Vin to sing 'Wind Beneath My Wings' for my birthday present. It was a tear-jerker and absolutely beautiful."
Vin, who some think sounds very much like Bing Crosby, a pretty good crooner himself, said he once sang at Wrigley Field as a salute to Chicago Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray.
"I'd been talking about it (singing at Dodger Stadium) with my family for a few years," Mackenzie said. "I learned about it about three months ago. As the day came, I started getting a little more antsy. It was like a dream and I got more and more excited. I felt more excited than nervous. (The crowd of 54,621) didn't bother me. I just kind of go with the flow.
"I just remember my family coming up to me and my mom was crying. The feeling was indescribable. It was something I'll never forget - a very, very amazing experience. He's always been a role model to me and I was really honored to sing for him."
Matt Luderer, who is the athletic director at Crespi (Encino, Calif.)
, conceded that he and his wife, Catherine, were a lot more nervous than their daughter. Mackenzie showed great poise for her age, having never performed before more than 100 people.
"It was a special moment that we'll never forget," Matt said. "I have footage of my wife bursting into tears. I was trying to video, but I was so nervous that my hands were shaking, so it's probably worthless."
Even before the singing, however, all the Scully grandchildren got into the act because their grandfather wanted to share the spotlight.
As he prepared to throw out the ceremonial first pitch to Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, Scully walked over to third base where they were all lined up and handed the ball to Mackenzie. She passed it down so each grandchild handled it, and then it was returned to grandpa to make his pitch.
Each one wore a Dodgers shirt with the number 64, signifying the 2013 campaign which will be his 64th, and the last in his fabled career.
Mackenzie returned in the seventh inning to sing "God Bless America."
"I felt more confident the second time I came out," she said. "It felt so natural and I felt at home."
This week has been equally special for Mackenzie as she learned on Monday that she will be a starter on the varsity volleyball team when the season opens Thursday.
"I was very excited," the athletic, 5-foot-11 1/2 sophomore said. "It's a dream come true. All I wanted to do was just be on the team and see some court time.I'm a pretty good blocker and I have a lot of power. I have big hands and feet. I've been kind of a Sasquatch."
Mackenzie has played volleyball since fifth grade and credits her talent to her mother, who also played the sport in high school. Mackenzie started playing club volleyball a couple years ago and the stiffer competition increased her love for the sport.
She actually tried basketball as a fifth grader, but gave it up after her lone basket wound up in the opponent's goal.
Louisville volleyball coach Sabine Stork, a former volleyball standout married to three-time Olympian Jeff Stork, chose Mackenzie to start at the key opposite hitter position over some upperclassmen.
"With Mackenzie, it's always been about raw talent - how dynamic and athletic," she said. "She's probably our second-highest jumper and one of her best skills is blocking. The physical side at this age you can't teach. I can teach her the volleyball side of it. She can have a spectacular year. I see a lot of good things out of her."
In her fifth year of coaching at the all-girls school, Stork has been especially impressed by Mackenzie's low-key, humble nature. Stork remembers watching her play the Olivia Newton John role in Grease as an eighth grader, singing such long-time hits as "Hopelessly Devoted to You."
"I was kind of shocked. That was the first time I knew she had that hidden talent," Stork said. "I didn't even know she was Vin Scully's granddaughter until two weeks ago. They are a very low-key family and don't make bones about who they are."
Stork has experience with daughters of baseball celebrities. Several years ago Taylor Scioscia, daughter of Angels' manager Mike Scioscia, played for Stork.
Mackenzie is the oldest of five daughters, ages 15,13, 9, 7, and 5, and she appears to have a shot some day of being a college volleyball player and possibly even a professional singer.
Mackenzie, who carries a 3.6 GPA, listed Notre Dame, Georgetown, and UCLA as possible destinations.
Stork points out, "She has all the right tools. It's how hard she wants to work and it's up to her."
As far as singing is concerned, it's obviously been in her blood since the day she was born. She describes her voice as "soulful" and enjoys singers such as Miley Cyrus, Demi Lavato and Christina Aguilera.
"The sky is the limit. I try not to limit my kids at all," said
Catherine. "We joke that she is a Disney character. She wakes up singing
and goes to bed singing."
Catherine had an opportunity to record music when she was younger, but she chose to stay close to her family and go into the real estate business. Perhaps she will live that dream some day through Mackenzie, or even one of her younger daughters, who are all currently focusing on softball.
Mackenzie still hasn't decided whether she'd prefer a career in volleyball or music, but at this point she seems to be leaning towards singing.
"I would love to have that as a career," she said.
Dave Krider has covered high school sports more than five decades and was elected to both the National High School Hall of Fame and the U.S. Basketball Writers Hall of Fame. E-mail Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org.