At some point during a weeklong series of events to celebrate his final games at Dodger Stadium, Vin Scully might need fans to come to his emotional rescue.
“I think I’ve got them in check, but you never really know,” the Dodgers’ 88-year-old Hall of Fame broadcaster said Monday about how sentimentality will factor into the days leading up to when he calls the Dodgers-Colorado Rockies game on “Fan Appreciation” game Sunday afternoon, marking the end of the Dodgers’ homestand and his last trip to the Vin Scully Press Box to work as a broadcaster.
“I don’t think I’m going to express anything about me. I will just try to do the game. I really will. I will concentrate on (the Rockies) as if they’re challenging the Dodgers for first place, and the game will take its place and hopefully carry me along with it to the very end.
“I think I’ll be OK.”
A conference call with reporters from across the county Monday often became an opportunity for them to thank him for his years of service to the game.
On that call, Scully admitted that “I think I’ve kept it in proper perspective even though it is a little embarrassing, to be honest” and “I never want to get out in front of the game” as this farewell tour has occurred, especially as the week begins with another series involving the Dodgers and rival San Francisco Giants with the National League West about to be decided.
How has that perspective happened?
“I attribute it to one thing and one thing only: God’s grace to allow me to do what I’ve been doing for 67 years,” he said. “To me, that’s really the story. Not really me. I’m just a vessel that was passed down hand to hand down through all those years. So I don’t take it to heart as some great compliment. I just realize since I’ve been doing this 67 years, that’s why everyone wants to talk about it. … As uncomfortable as I am maybe pushed into this spot, the only reason for all the fuss and fury is I’ve lasted 67 years.”
As Scully has done in the time leading up to this moment, it’s as if he is trying to prepare the rest of Los Angeles for this inevitability through his own calming voice.
“I’ve been asked, or told, a lot: ‘Oh, it won’t be the same without you, we’ll miss you, et cetera,’” he said. “And that’s very nice. But you know what, I look back over my career and I can remember Mel Allen leaving the Yankees. My thought was: The Yankees can’t play without Mel Allen.
“And Russ Hodges leaving the Giants. And Jack Buck leaving St. Louis. And Harry Caray leaving Chicago. Red Barber leaving Brooklyn. All these were, ‘Oh my gosh, it’ll never be the same.’ But you know what? A year or so, or however long it takes, and you’ll be history. And I know that. And someone else will hopefully ride and have a great career in your place.”
Scully, as he reminded everyone, once had to leave a group of Dodgers fans in Brooklyn when the team moved to Los Angeles to start the 1958 season. The New York native who attended Fordham had family and friends who were watching him move 3,000 miles away, rarely able to see him again as he had done Dodgers games for eight seasons to that point.
“It was somewhat bittersweet having to leave — maybe that’s not the proper word — but the thought of leaving New York was overwhelming,” he said.
There was also the fear he would not keep his job with the team to Los Angeles because of a belief Southern California would want its own voice from a group of credible broadcasters already calling baseball.
“It was a tremendous relief that at least I’ve been given the job,” he said.
Connecting generations as he has, Scully also said one of the “great residuals of the job” is hearing people tell him about how hearing his voice reminds them of backyard barbecues with their family or painting the garage with their father with the radio on.
“It’s nice to be a bridge, it really is,” he said. “I keep saying it because I mean it so much: God has been so good to me to allow me to do what I’m doing, (starting) at a very young age and then giving me 67 years to enjoy every minute of it … that’s a pretty large Thanksgiving day for me.
“I’ve loved that connection with people, and loved to hear about it.”
Asked if he might take up an invitation to return to Dodger Stadium in late October should the team make it deep into the playoffs and perhaps the World Series, Scully said he would “probably not” but would definitely “watch for sure. Maybe if I’m invited to a game, maybe I would go. But once I call it an end on Oct. 2, I’ll try very hard to stay back and be the very normal guy that I am.”
At a point when one reporter told Scully, who said that his career as a broadcaster was simply “a childhood dream that came to pass,” that he was almost being too modest in acknowledging what he has meant to the game. Scully thanked him and said he was deeply touched, “but I’ll put that aside and think about it maybe as I gaze at a flower or something during my retirement.”