Vin Scully was back in the press box, back telling stories, being modest, laughing, delighting.
After being out all week with a cold so severe he was told it was “one click from pneumonia,” Los Angeles’ great civic treasure returned to the broadcast booth Sunday.
Scully had missed five consecutive games, the last four played in near frigid weather. Now that the warm blanket on a cold night for Dodgers fans was back, saying he was humbled by all the attention his absence had caused.
“It was very, very touching and memorable and humbling,” Scully said. “You get something like that, you don’t stand up and beat your chest. You lower your head. It’s amazing.”
Scully, 84, said he first began to feel ill during the Saturday game in San Diego on April 7.
“I did the game, couldn’t stop coughing and could not sleep a wink, and I knew I was in a lot of trouble,” Scully said.
By Tuesday’s home opener, Scully had been knocked out by his illness. His voice was gone from the constant coughing. He was weak and tired, and mad.
It would be only the second home opener he had missed in his 63 seasons broadcasting the Dodgers, and this one would salute the 1962 Dodgers team that opened Dodger Stadium 50 years ago.
“Tuesday there was no chance,” Scully said. “I lay in bed, and I guess I went through all the human emotions. I was so angry at myself for being sick, that I was going to miss opening day.
“I wanted to be here so badly, especially to see the guys from the ’62 club. I was furious. But then I thought, ‘I didn’t do anything to make myself sick. I can be angry at the fates.’ A little self-pity -- you go through all of that stuff. Then finally I thought, ‘Enough of the emotion, let’s see if we can’t get well.’ ”
During the ceremonies for the home opener, his absence was noted and he was saluted while his image was beamed on the video board. The sellout crowd gave him a standing ovation.
“I felt, my gosh, they’re opening up a season and here they are saluting an announcer,” he said. “I was overwhelmed. I had all kinds of emotions, many of which were humility, thinking I’m just another guy. I’m the most ordinary person you ever met. And here’s this big deal, and I’m sick. It was a very humbling opening day for me.”
Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said Scully’s absence was felt throughout the team, the organization and city.
“Vinny is the Dodgers,” Mattingly said. “A lot of people hear Vinny’s voice when they think about the Dodgers.”
Scully said Sunday he was now in good health, if still somewhat weakened by antibiotics. Scully might have returned earlier, but said with the cold weather doctors were concerned he could have a relapse, or in a weakened condition, pick up something else.
Scully said he was happy to return Sunday, on baseball’s annual Jackie Robinson Day.
“In my own private little world, this is my opening day,” Scully said. “I have [Clayton] Kershaw, he ain’t no bad crowd to hang around with. I’m not going to be serving Baccarat crystal and the way they dressed up on opening day.
“My little opening day will be a used jelly glass with some water in it. Hopefully I’ll have some fun, stop feeling sorry for myself, and get back to work.”
Dick Enberg, the former UCLA, Rams and Angels announcer who now broadcasts Padres games, said Los Angeles was blessed to have Scully all these years.
“There never will be another like him,” Enberg said. “Walter O’Malley, in his consummate wisdom, got it right when he said my best player isn’t anyone in uniform. It’s the guy in the broadcast booth.
“He pitches every pitch, he’s at bat every at-bat. He is a superstar. He’s the conduit to this great marketplace.”