The Vin Scully farewell season began Friday with, appropriately, a history lesson.
During the middle of a news conference before Scully's first and only spring training appearance at Camelback Ranch, the ring of a rotary phone filled the air.
It was coming from somewhere in the front of the small conference room. It sounded like a kitchen wall in the 1950s. Brrinng. Brrinng. Brrinng.
"That's my phone," Scully said, finally, looking down at his pants pocket, actually blushing. "We won't answer that. Go away please."
Can we just call this whole thing off before it starts?
The beginning of Scully's 67th and final Dodgers summer was just another example of why we want him to talk to us forever.
During a 30-minute session in which he kept apologizing for saying nothing, he said everything, his words revealing the depths of the sweetness and humility that will turn the next six months into the toughest of goodbyes. He spoke Japanese to one reporter, spun baseball tales from a half-century ago for another, and quietly charmed the small room with the message that he plans to end the greatest career in sports broadcasting as just another guy talking ball.
"The thing that bothers me, really and truly, is making it sound like, because it's my last year, I'm almost more important than the game. That scares me to death,'' he said. "I just want to do the game. I just want to have fun and they eventually say, 'OK, Scully, that's enough, see ya.'"
Not only does he not want it to be a celebrated farewell, but also, please, don't compare it to Kobe Bryant's extravaganza by calling it a farewell tour.
"I appreciate Kobe, he's brilliant, it's great he makes those trips . . . but it's not really me," Scully said. "I'm not going to take me and bring me on a tour like I'm some Stradivarius or whatever. I'm just an announcer, I belong in the press box, and only really at Dodger Stadium."
Scully, 88, said he has tentatively planned to make just three trips away from Chavez Ravine during the regular season. He will call the season opener April 4 in San Diego, the May 18 and May 19 games in Anaheim, and probably the season's final series in San Francisco from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2. He said he would also consider the playoffs if the Dodgers are involved, an event he missed last season for medical reasons.
He guaranteed he absolutely would not be heard, not even for a minute, on the All-Star game or any postseason game not involving the Dodgers, despite pleas for national curtain calls from baseball, networks and fans.
"No, no, no, I don't belong there, I belong in Dodger Stadium in the booth, that's where I belong, that's where I lived, that's where I'll stay until it's over," he said.
For now, he also will not be heard by 60% of Los Angeles homes whose pay-TV operators do not carry the Dodgers' TV channel SportsNet LA, and Scully said he feels their pain.
"I'm a baseball fan at heart, I really am," he said. "My first thought is, I really want the fans to see all the games, that's the main thing, I don't know anything else about it."
While Scully has pointedly stayed out of the mess — he will forever remain the perfect Dodgers employee, and there's something very noble in that — he did say he thought that Time Warner Cable's latest 30% , one-year discount offer was fair.
"In your paper they listed the various prices in various cities," he said, referring to the Los Angeles Times. "When I compared what I understand they're asking, I thought, well, that looks like a reasonable offer, but that's all I know, in all honesty."
That the Dodgers used Scully's name in an attempt to sell that misguided offer this week seems particularly wrong in the wake of the feelings he expressed Friday. He doesn't want the attention in either controversy or celebration. He frowned when asked if he's ready for the adulation that will surround him with every home game, every night thousands of people turning, facing the press box and cheering goodbye.
"I love this game and I don't want to get somehow in front of it just because it's my last year," he said.
As perhaps a sign of things to come, just before the Dodgers played the San Francisco Giants here Friday night, Scully was introduced in the broadcast booth to a roaring standing ovation . . . but only after Rick Monday and Charlie Steiner were introduced.
More than anything, Scully said he will miss hearing those people cheer for the game.
"When I was about 8 . . . I used to crowd under the radio with a pillow, a glass of milk and some saltine crackers," he said. "The speaker would be directly over my head, someone would score and the crowd would go crazy, and that crowd noise would come down and wash over me like water out of a shower head."
He said still he relives those moments every night.
"To this day, if there is a very good play in the ballpark and the crowd lets out a roar, I shut up . . . and during the time I shut up, I'm 8 years old underneath the radio," he said.
When it's been Scully's voice coming through that box, aren't we all?
He said his proudest Dodgers achievement occurred during the 1988 World Series game won by Kirk Gibson's homer, but it didn't involve his famous call, "In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened."
Scully recounted the wonderful story of how the injured Gibson was listening to him on television while icing his legs in the training room. Gibson heard Scully pronounce him out of the game, and took it as a personal challenge.
"My greatest contribution in all my years with the Dodgers was getting Gibby off the training table at the end of the game," Scully said. "Whatever happened, it struck a note, and Gibby got up and hollered, 'Tell Tommy [Lasorda] I'll be there.' Next thing you know, he comes down and . . . magic."
Every night with Scully contains some kind of magic. Even in a sports world where transition has become common, even in a town where Bryant is actually retiring, the idea this magic will somehow end in six months is unfathomable.
"I'm not sure how I'll feel when I get down to the end," Scully admitted. "Being somewhat of a sentimental Irishman, [there] might be a fight that I have with myself."
It is a fight the rest of us are already losing.