No workload change for Vin Scully
LOS ANGELES -- Vin Scully said it was a profound love of the game, one that hasn't begun to wane in 61 seasons in the broadcast booth for the Los Angeles Dodgers, that led to his decision to return for at least one more year in 2011.
"The game of baseball is something I love with all my heart and soul," Scully said. "I felt deep within the recesses of my mind that I did not want to sever the relationship. I just love it so much. It's like a very good marriage. My wife, God bless her, said, 'If you want to do it, do it.' "
Scully, who has been working on a series of one-year contracts, was non-committal on whether he plans to continue after next season. The 82-year-old also said he will continue to work on his present schedule of calling every home game, but only road games within the NL West and AL West.
"I remember thinking, 'Gee, I should cut back,' " Scully said. "But I talked to my wife, and she said, 'No, if you totally love it, then maintain the pace.' "
Scully's announcement came in front of about two dozen reporters in the Dodger Stadium press box, a far larger gathering than he had anticipated for an announcement he had hoped would be much more low-key. But when Scully let it be known on Saturday that he planned to announce his future plans on Sunday, the natural suspicion was that he might be retiring, which led to the unusually large media gathering.
"First of all, I'm totally embarrassed," Scully said. "This is the last thing I wanted. I see all of you every day, and it's nice to see you every day, but I'm very, very embarrassed. I was hoping it would be a little line in the notes sheet before the game."
The size of the gathering also reflected Scully's enormous popularity within the Dodgers' fan base, and his response to it reflected how humble he is despite all of the accolades he has received during his career, including his induction in 1982 into the broadcaster's wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame and a widespread belief that he is the greatest baseball play-by-play announcer of all time.
"He is the best there has ever been in our profession," said Marty Brennaman, the Hall of Fame broadcaster for the Cincinnati Reds. "Nobody has ever been better, and nobody will ever be better, no matter how many games are played or how many games are broadcast on radio or TV. But over and above that, and more important than all of that, is that he is the best guy you will ever find. He is totally without ego and always willing to help."
There had been widespread speculation all season that Scully would retire, speculation that was fueled by a published comment last season in which Scully said it would "make sense" that 2010 would be his final year. But Scully said he began leaning toward returning for at least one more season as far back as spring training.
"I guess it started [then], and when the season began, I was feeling well," Scully said. "Early in summer, maybe in May, I started talking to my wife. I was still enjoying so much just coming to the ballpark."
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Eventually, Scully asked himself the question that sealed the deal.
"What would I do if I don't do this?" he said.
Scully gushed praise for Red Barber and Connie Desmond, his original broadcast partners with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1948, both of whom have long since passed.
"Red was like a father, and Connie was like a big brother," Scully said. "Red would treat me like I was a young son. He was a disciplinarian. One time, he chewed me out. I was going on about Willie Mays and what a great player I thought he was. After the game, he said, 'Don't you ever do that. Who are you to say who a great player is? You're in your second year in the business.' So I thought, 'Well, I guess you're right.' Of course, [Mays] did turn out to be a great player.
"It was a learning process for me at the time."
Former Dodger and current team broadcaster Rick Monday heard about Scully's return on the radio as he was driving to the stadium.
"It was a lot like being a kid in a neighborhood and you're kicking on the door asking Vinny's wife Sandy: 'Can Vinny come out and play again?'" he said. "And we're all delighted that he's going to come out and play next year. In my life, Vin Scully has always been Dodger baseball."
It's the same for generations of Angelenos for whom Scully's famously soothing voice has defined summer in the city.
"I'm as thrilled as our fans that Vin will be returning," team owner Frank McCourt said in a statement. "He is not only the greatest broadcaster of all time, but also a wonderful friend."
Manager Joe Torre, who is mulling his own future after this season, was glad to hear the news.
"I'm happy for the Dodgers and happy for Vinny that he wants to keep doing it," he said. "He looks great and sounds great, too."
Former Dodgers manager Tom Lasorda, who turns 83 next month, tweeted his appreciation: "I love you Vin. Thank God we have you for another year. The Dodgers and MLB wouldn't be the same without you."
Scully attributed his longevity to good fortune and good genes.
"My mother lived to be 97," he said. "I'm not saying I'm going to live to be 97, but I think genes help. And also, not to keep going back to the same refrain, but when you're in love, you're in love. ... Every day of my life, I give thanks to God, and moreso as each game goes by, as each week goes by and as each year goes by. I don't take this opportunity for granted. I know everything I have received has been God-given, and I always know I could lose it like that [snapping his fingers].
"Every precious moment to me is just that, precious."
Scully looked back fondly on the morning of his first national World Series broadcast in 1953, when his mother made him a large breakfast and he promptly regurgitated it from the nervousness he was feeling. But he said when he arrived at Yankee Stadium for that day's game and realized the familiarity of it all, the butterflies quickly went away.
"I have been keeping my breakfast in pretty well since then," he said.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this story.