Vin Scully and baseball: He loves it too much to leave it
Vin Scully said he had his wife’s blessing to return for another season as the voice of the Dodgers.
Then he heard that the Dodgers had picked up journeyman catcher Rod Barajas in a waiver deal.
“That was the clincher,” Scully said, drawing laughs from the crowd of reporters who surrounded him in the press box named in his honor.
So Scully will be back next year for his 62nd season with the Dodgers. He announced Sunday morning that he will continue to call their home games, as well as road games against National League West opponents.
The 82-year-old Hall of Famer said he hasn’t made any plans beyond 2011.
He lightheartedly took issue with the headline on the story about his pending announcement in the Sunday edition of The Times: “Only Scully Knows Future.”
“That’s incorrect,” Scully said. “Only God knows just how long I’ll continue to work.”
Scully, who grew up in the Bronx a New York Giants fan, started his broadcasting career with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1950 as the third man in the booth with Red Barber and Connie Desmond.
His apprenticeship lasted only a few years, as Barber left to work for the New York Yankees. Scully took over in 1954 and soon after called the team’s first World Series victory, telling listeners, “The Brooklyn Dodgers are champions of the world,” then falling silent so they could hear the crowd noise.
Scully moved West with the Dodgers in 1957.
He said he decided to return next year because he feels the same way about baseball that he did back then.
“The game of baseball, I love with all my heart and soul,” he said. “I found in the deep 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. I found when push came to shove, I just did not want to leave. My wife understood it, God bless her. She said, ‘If you love it, do it.’ So I love it and I’m going to do it.”
Scully said he still gets goose bumps watching baseball.
“I tried to play it,” he said. “I realized how hard it is to play it at the level that the major leaguers play it. I’ve been intrigued by their abilities. That, plus the love of the game still produces goose bumps. That might be my thermometer.”
He said watching Colorado Rockies second baseman Eric Young Jr. make a behind-the-back throw on a slow roller recently elicited that type of reaction.
“I had goose bumps like it was the first big league game I’d ever seen,” he said.
Scully said he was embarrassed by the amount of attention drawn by his announcement.
“This is the last thing I wanted,” he said of the mini-news conference he held Sunday morning. “I was hoping it would be a little line in the note sheet before the game and that would be the end of it.”
Manager Joe Torre smiled as he talked about how Scully didn’t mention anything about his decision to him when he dropped by his office the previous afternoon.
“I grew up with him, so it’s something you never want to have go away,” said Torre, a New York native. “He looks great, sounds great and I’m just happy for the Dodgers.”
Torre’s sentiments were shared by many at Dodger Stadium.
“I’m so pleased that Vin is coming back,” said the Dodgers’ other Hall of Fame broadcaster, Spanish-language voice Jaime Jarrin. “It’s a blessing for me to be near him. He was such a big part of my development as an announcer.”
Players who grew up in Southern California were relieved to hear Scully wasn’t retiring.
“Somebody mentioned to me last night that he had a big announcement today, so immediately I got chills,” said outfielder Jay Gibbons, a Moorpark High graduate. “And I was like, ‘Oh, no, this is it.’ But when I heard this morning, I was as happy as everybody else.
“He’s who I grew up listening to. That’s ingrained in my head forever. Every time I hear Vin Scully, it’s just baseball to me. I had a chance to meet him way back in spring training and it’s one of the highlights of my career.”
Jeff Weaver, who grew up in Simi Valley, had similar memories.
“Dodgers and Vin go hand in hand,” he said. “There’s no other voice like him, as far as I’m concerned. Him and Chick Hearn were the L.A. boys. Everyone will be sad to see him leave.”
Staff writer Kevin Baxter contributed to this report.
Clicking on Green Links will take you to a third-party e-commerce site. These sites are not operated by the Los Angeles Times. The Times Editorial staff is not involved in any way with Green Links or with these third-party sites.