LOS ANGELES - Vin Scully and John Wooden, a couple of national treasures in the autumn of their lives, swapped stories and insights in a first-time joint public conversation punctuated by laughter and applause.
Scully, the Los Angeles Dodgers' longtime Hall of Fame broadcaster, and Wooden, a basketball Hall of Fame player and coach who guided UCLA to a record 10 national championships before retiring in 1975, have known each other for 50 years.
Back then, each came to Los Angeles to begin jobs that would define their lives and those of the city's sports fans. The two men first met by chance while living in the same Brentwood apartment building, when one of them held the gate open for the other who was carrying groceries inside.
Scully and Wooden kicked off Father's Day weekend with a 1 1/2-hour chat Friday night moderated by Los Angeles Times sports columnist T.J. Simers. A sold-out crowd of 7,100 paid rapt attention at Nokia Theatre, while a live television audience listened in.
Scully and Wooden received prolonged standing ovations when they arrived and left the stage. Despite looming large over the Los Angeles sportsscape for decades, the 80-year-old Scully and 97-year-old Wooden had never sat down together publicly to share their memories.
In agreeing to participate, the men requested that all money raised benefit children's charities.
Ticket prices ranged from $25 to $200, with proceeds split between UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital and ThinkCure, the Los Angeles Dodgers' charity that focuses on cancer research. Scully and Wooden appeared beforehand at a dinner, where tables went for $25,000 each.
Wooden came onstage in a wheelchair pushed by UCLA athletic trainer Tony Spino, who helped the former coach settle into a leather chair. Wooden made a passing reference to having broken his left wrist and collarbone in a fall at home in February.
His body may be frail, but Wooden proved his mind is as sharp as ever as he recalled snippets of his life from decades ago in between making the audience laugh with his retorts to Simers.
Wooden tenderly admitted he still writes his late wife Nell - the only girl he ever dated - a letter on the 21st of each month. "She's still there to me,'' he said. "I talk to her every day.''
Scully's famously soothing voice has defined summer in the city to generations of Angelenos. But he is fiercely private away from the announcer's booth, rarely giving interviews or discussing his life.
He explained that he grew up in New York being taught not to show his emotions.
"I'm less of a man because of it,'' he said.
Scully said he's not a fan of the Dodgers because "if I did that every flyball would be a home run.''
Despite his proximity to the players, Scully said he doesn't hang out with them.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
Scully remembered a game that Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball's color barrier, and the Dodgers played in Philadelphia on a hot day. A man outside offered slices of watermelon to each of the players as they got on the bus.
"When Jackie came out he was not aware of anything, and all of a sudden, the man hands him a piece of watermelon,'' Scully said. "He was ready to go pyrotechnic until we were able to say, `No, no, Jack. Everybody is having watermelon, me, a redhead Irishman.' So it was fine, but there was always that underlying feeling.''
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