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Vin Scully gets clearer: He expects to walk away after 2016 Dodgers season

Vin Scully gets clearer: He expects to walk away after 2016 Dodgers season
Legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully has said that next season, his 67th year with the franchise, will be his last. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

It is not what anyone in the Los Angeles area wants to believe. When Vin Scully first said in August that next season would realistically be his last broadcasting the Dodgers, wishful  thinking became rampant.

"Probably" and "likely" were comfortable buffers that offered hope. He could change his mind. But the more Scully has thought and talked about retiring, the more definitive his decision has become.

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"Each year, I knew I was getting closer and closer," Scully said. "Finally, this past fall and winter — I think it's time. I don't want somebody else to tell me it's time. I would rather do it myself."

Scully turned 88 Sunday and has reached the point where he cannot envision a scenario where he returns beyond the 2016 season.

"I really can't see that I would come back," Scully said. "Sooner or later, you have to be realistic. I've done it for a long, long time. I've done reasonably well at it. But I don't want to stay on any longer than I feel I should.

"Which makes it a very tough decision, but I really do feel it would be time for me to walk away rather than have somebody say, 'Gee, you know, you're not the same. You're not quite this, you're not quite that.' I don't want that. So I think if I can get through next year doing reasonably well, it would be time then to walk away."

Scully is the longest tenured broadcaster with one team in sports history. Next season will mark his 67th consecutive year with the Dodgers. In recent seasons, he has done three innings of simulcast on the radio and TV, and then the final six exclusively on television.

The Dodgers' new channel, SportsNet LA, still cannot be seen by over 60% of the Los Angeles market. But Scully said regardless of the Dodgers' station reaching an agreement with the rest of the cable and satellite providers next season, his retirement plans will not change.

Scully said he could recall broadcasting NFL games on CBS, and in the production meeting the day before the game, the producer would indicate the game would cover X-percent of the country.

"I used to say to the producer, 'Please, don't tell me. As far as I'm concerned, every game is 100 [percent] of the country. I don't want to know if there's a small audience this week and a big audience next week. I want to go into that figuring everybody in the world is going to be listening.'

"And that's really how I felt with baseball. Doing the Dodgers games, if we had a full coverage, that's great. But even if we had the tiniest coverage, it would not influence me. I would still try to do the game as if everybody saw it. And I kept that up and will continue to do it, whether they change or otherwise next year."

Scully, the most beloved man in Los Angeles history, said he's simply come to the point where he knows it's time. He said his wife, Sandi, prepared Thanksgiving dinner at home for their large family for over 40 years until turning it over to three daughters this November.

"Whether it's Thanksgiving dinner or broadcasting a ballgame, eventually the torch has to be passed," he said.

"It's been great, but it's time. Also you keep thinking to yourself, this is not a dress rehearsal. This is life. You've had this tremendous time doing what you love, but time is running out. And I don't mean to be morbid in any way, but it's time to just smell the roses and get off the merry-go-round. … It takes a lot of thinking and big-decision making to let go of something you've loved all these years. In my mind and heart, this is the time to do it."

Scully has gradually cut back his job demands in recent seasons, last year broadcasting only home games. But if that's given him a glimpse of his future, it still unnerves him to think of full-bore retirement.

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"If I stop to think about it — I'll be very honest — I'm somewhat scared to death," Scully said. "When you've run the same motor for all these years and suddenly turn it off, I know there will be a deafening silence. But I'll just have to be fortunate having had a wonderful marriage. I'll spend more time with Sandi, and God willing, with family and smell the roses."

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