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Vin Scully will never understand how deeply he's touched us

Los Angeles DodgersB.J. UptonYasiel Puig
Vin Scully, who announced he will return to the Dodgers' broadcast booth next season, is humbled by response
'Every time they've turned on the radio since 1958, here I was, jabbering away.' - the ever-modest Vin Scully
Vin Scully says a Yasiel Puig play convinced him -- 'as if I had any doubts' -- to come back for a 66th season

Forget it, there’s nothing you can do. No amount of flattery, no barrels of cookies, no endless applause can get it done. Give up.

Vin Scully will never understand what he means to you.

He will not appreciate how he seems like part of your family. Like some rich combination of kindly grandfather, favorite neighbor and best friend.

“It’s probably from all the years,” Scully said. “Every time they’ve turned on the radio since 1958, here I was, jabbering away. After all those years, like an old pair of slippers, it would be strange I guess not to hear this voice.”

Maybe you think it’s false modesty, that there is just no way on Earth he could not understand how deeply he seems woven into our lives, that it’s much more than baseball or even being the soundtrack to our summer.

Yet after all these years – and his announcement Tuesday that he will return in 2015 means next season will make 66 years of Scully behind the microphone – he truly seems embarrassed by attention.

He walked into a news conference Wednesday, saw the standing room media crowd and became almost self-conscious. He began by apologizing for receiving another day of attention.

“In all honesty, I don’t ever feel I’ve done anything,” he said. “Somebody will say, 'You’ve done 19 no-hitters and three perfect games.’ And I think I just happened to be there. It’s not something I can take any pride in. I am humbled, believe me, for being given the honor of working the games all these years.

“I agree with everyone else. It’s a long time to be working at one job – with no advancement. I feel blessed.”

The true blessing, of course, has been ours. That we’ve been able to share his insight and stories and intelligence for all these years. His deft wit has enriched countless warm Los Angeles nights.

His enthusiasm and appreciation for the game after almost seven decades seems undiminished by time or repetition. Even Tuesday night, moments before the Dodgers would make the announcement of his return on the stadium video boards, he sat in the press box and felt the game’s tug.

Atlanta’s speedy B.J. Upton was on third, preparing to tag as a fly went to the cannon-armed Yasiel Puig in medium center.

“I’m not a mind reader, but I felt exactly like the crowd,” he said. “I inched forward and was saying to myself, `Oh, this is going to be great.’ I knew the entire ballpark was at that same level. And it wasn’t disappointing. It was a great throw and a great slide.

“Afterward I sat back and thought, `That’s the way you were the first day you ever started doing this game.’ You see this play building and it just gets to you. As God is my judge, that play last night convinced me – as if I had any doubts. I thought, `Here you are. Doing the same thing and getting the same goose bumps and that thrill of anticipation of seeing a great play.’ ”

Sixty-five years in and he still gets intoxicated by the crowd. Then manages to absorb it, translate it and share it with his listeners.

He’s 86 years old now, and one sad summer the announcement will be that he’s not coming back for another year. Maybe next summer, maybe not. Scully says he doesn’t know.

“I’m just not sure about life,” he said. “I’m even having trouble now talking about Opening Day next year. So to go beyond that, is really beyond me. I don’t know. Day-to-day is the best way.”

When that day does come, maybe the saddest part will be knowing that despite all the love he’s been showered with, he still will not quite grasp how he touched us on a personal level. You want to share secrets with Scully, want to hear him talk about anything.

I’ve said repeatedly over the years, he is the most treasured figure in Los Angeles history. Not just sports figure, the most beloved person ever. It’s impossible to overstate his impact.

Scully scoffs, oblivious to it all. He thinks he’s seen other broadcasters come and go, though the truth is there has never been anyone like Scully.

“Oh, no, let’s face it, I don’t think people are going to miss me,” he said. “There might be a year where it seems a little strange not hearing so-and-so. Even the name might slowly disappear. That doesn’t bother me at all. I don’t think of it that way.

“I saw the Dodgers continue without Red Barber,” he said. “The Yankees roll along without Mel Allen. I’ve seen the Cardinals go without Jack Buck. I saw the Cubs go without Harry Caray. And they don’t miss a beat. And I’m not fooling myself, the Dodgers will roll along merrily whether I’m here or not.”

You’ve failed miserably.

 

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Los Angeles DodgersB.J. UptonYasiel Puig
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