LOS ANGELES — Vin Scully poked fun at himself after word came out that he plans to return for his record 66th season in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ broadcast booth next year.
“I agree with everybody else: It’s a long time to be working at one job with no advancement,” he said, smiling.
The 86-year-old Hall of Fame announcer, his red hair faded by the years but still in good health, continues to be thrilled describing the action on the field.
“It really is a privilege and good fortune to have this job,” he said Wednesday. “I’ve loved it from Day One.”
Scully was reminded of his love for the game in the third inning of Tuesday night’s game against Atlanta. B.J. Upton tagged up at third and charged toward home on a fly ball to center. Yasiel Puig used his cannon of an arm to throw home, with Upton scoring ahead of the tag.
“After that I sat back and thought that’s the way you were the first day you started doing this game,” he said. “You see this play building and it just gets to you. That play last night convinced me.”
The Dodgers revealed Scully’s return on Tuesday, when talking microphones featuring his dulcet tones were given away to fans. The crowd reacted with a standing ovation for Scully, who waved from his booth. The umpiring crew joined in the applause.
“It was very difficult last night, not only to stand there and hear and receive the ovation, but I still feel like I haven’t done anything except show up every day at work,” he said. “When I sat down, as quickly as I could, it was this overwhelming ‘Thank God I can get back to doing the game.”’
Scully has never prepared words to say, only statistics to read on the air.
“I want it to be as honest as possible,” he said. “There are a lot of times I drive home saying, ‘Dummy, why didn’t you say what you’re thinking of right now?”’
Scully’s consecutive years of service make him the longest-tenured broadcaster with one team in sports history. He calls all nine innings of the team’s home games and road games in California and Arizona for the Dodgers’ new television home on SportsNet LA, while the first three innings of his games are simulcast on the radio.
He acknowledged that the years have slowed him in some respects.
“Maybe I was quicker in coming up with an occasional good thought more so than now,” he said. “Once in a while I’ll blunder into a good line.”
Scully said his decision to return was not influenced by the dispute between Time Warner Cable and other cable subscribers that is keeping 70 percent of the Los Angeles television market from seeing the team’s games so far this season.
Only customers of Time Warner and a couple of its partners have been able to watch, while subscribers of major providers such as DirecTV, Dish Network, Verizon and AT&T have been shut out. Even Scully can’t watch road games since he lives in an area not served by Time Warner.
“It’s heartbreaking not to be able to share with the entire community,” he said.
Scully began his professional broadcasting career in 1950 with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He has called three perfect games, 25 World Series and 12 All-Star games. He was behind the microphone for Kirk Gibson’s Game 1 homer in the 1988 World Series, Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series, Hank Aaron’s record-setting 715th home run and Sandy Koufax’s four no-hitters, including a perfect game.
After wrapping up his 30-minute chat with the media, manager Don Mattingly came into the room.
“I’ve got to follow that act?” he joked.
Mattingly is busy during games so he doesn’t hear Scully, but fans often tell him what he’s missing.
“It’s like the gospel,” he said. “The way he paints the picture is so cool.”
Scully isn’t sure he’ll know when it’s time to retire because, as he says, “I’ve never had the feeling.”
What he does know is that once he bids farewell, he won’t hang around. And unlike many of his listeners, to whom his voice has meant summer in the city for decades, he is unsentimental about leaving.
Scully ticks off the names of famed announcers Red Barber, Mel Allen, Jack Buck and Harry Caray who left their respective teams after years on the job.
“I’m not fooling myself,” he said. “The Dodgers will roll right along merrily whether I’m here or not.”