GLENDALE, Ariz. – Vin Scully is worried as he begins his 67th and final season as a broadcaster.
“The thing that bothers me, really and truly, is making it sound like because it’s my last year I’m more important than the game,” Scully said Friday afternoon before making his lone broadcast of a Cactus League game this spring. “That scares me to death. That’s the last thought. I just want to do the game. I just want to have fun and eventually they’ll say, ‘OK, Scully, that’s enough. See ya.’
“I can’t think that way at all. Otherwise I’m going in thinking, ‘What else can I do today to make it more my game?’ Oh gosh, no.”
As a nod to Scully’s last spring training appearance, the San Francisco Giants used Joe Amalfitano as their third base coach for the first few innings against the Dodgers. A long-time player and coach, Amalfitano spent 16 seasons as the Dodgers’ third-base coach under manager Tommy Lasorda (1983-98) and is a close friend of Scully – who worried about the 82-year-old’s reaction time along the baselines.
“That’s a cherry on top, to see Joey at third base,” Scully said.
But the Hall of Fame broadcaster is not interested in a season-long series of tributes.
“I’m not going to take me on a tour like I’m some Stradivarius or whatever. No, no tour,” he said.
“I mean, really, I hope people come to see the Dodgers play. They listen to me if they don’t come. I love this game and I don’t want to get somehow out in front of it just because it’s my last year. I would be very happy to have people come out and love every minute of an exciting game, period. That’s enough for me.”
That means “no guest appearances, no way” despite the fact that any network would hand over the microphone to Scully at his whim and the All-Star Game will be just down the road in San Diego.
“There have been a lot of networks that have been very nice asking me to do an inning or two,” Scully said. “Fox, for instance, they’ve been great. All the time, ‘Come on in, do an inning.’ Joe (Buck), Jack’s son, said, ‘Do the whole game.’ No, no. I don’t belong there. I belong at Dodger Stadium, in the booth. That’s where I belong. That’s where I’ve lived. That’s where I’ll stay until it’s over.”
Scully plans little travel in his final season. He will broadcast the season opener from San Diego on April 4 and said he also plans to broadcast from Anaheim when the Dodgers and Angels play during the regular season. The Dodgers’ regular season schedule ends with a three-game series in San Francisco. Scully hasn’t committed to broadcasting those games but acknowledged again “that would be kind of nice” to finish his career with a Dodgers-Giants game. He would not commit to being part of the Dodgers’ radio broadcasts during any potential playoff run.
“I haven’t given it much thought other than my usual eagerness to get the season started,” Scully said when asked for his emotions about his farewell season. “I’ve tried to compare it to seasons in the past and it might be similar to the way I felt for the second year of my career. I had one under my belt and I was so excited to start another one.
“This one is special to me so I’m excited to get it started. I’m not sure how I’ll feel when I get down to the end. Being somewhat of a sentimental Irishman, it might be a fight that I have with myself. I’m looking forward to the whole year without thinking about the end of the year at all, concentrating on today and then as they go.”
Scully said he finds it “embarrassing” to have his farewell season used as a prod in negotiations between Time Warner Cable and distributors who have refused to pick up SportsNet LA.
“I’m a baseball fan at heart, I really am,” Scully said. “So my first thought is I really want the fans to see all the games. That’s the main thing.”
Scully recalled falling in love with sports and the idea of being a sports broadcaster as an 8-year-old hunkered down under the radio at home. The roar of the crowd got him then and he still feels “8 years old again” whenever he hears it.
“I’ll miss the fans, the sounds of the fans,” he said of walking away after this season. “No. 1 will be the roar of the crowd, the goosebumps that you get.”