Still feeling the fire, Scully drawn back to booth

Dodgers' legend says passion led to decision to return for 66th season

Still feeling the fire, Scully drawn back to booth

LOS ANGELES -- Vin Scully inched a tiny bit forward in his seat, eyes locked onto center field in palm-sweating anticipation. The 86-year-old was in the broadcast booth, his customary home, but he felt as though -- at that moment -- he was among the Dodger Stadium crowd. He was seeing what the fans were seeing and feeling what he thought they must be feeling. The excitement. The goosebumps.

It was the first inning of Tuesday night's 8-4 Dodgers win against the Braves. The speedy B.J. Upton was standing on third, and his brother, Justin Upton, just hit a fly ball to Yasiel Puig in center. B.J. Upton prepared to tag. Puig prepared to throw. Upton's wheels vs. Puig's power arm.

"I was saying to myself, 'Oh, this is going to be great,'" Scully said. "I know the entire ballpark was at that exact same level, and it wasn't disappointing. It was a great throw and a great slide, and B.J. beat it for the run."

The sacrifice fly proved relatively inconsequential in the Dodgers' 8-4 win, but for Scully, it carried an entirely different meaning. It was reassurance. He knew that one inning later, the Dodger Stadium video board would -- despite his humble protestations -- announce his return for a 66th year of Dodgers broadcasting.

There was some level of creeping fear, of doubt. Did he really want to commit to another year? Could he truly continue doing what he's been doing for so long?

Then came the fly ball, the throw, the close play at the plate and -- most importantly -- the answer he was looking for.

"After that, I sat back, and I thought, 'That's the way you were the first day you ever started doing this,'" Scully said Wednesday. "You see this play building, and it just gets to you. And God is my judge, that play last night convinced me -- as if I had any doubts -- I thought, 'Here you are doing the exact same thing, getting the exact same goosebumps and that thrill of anticipation of seeing a great play.'

"So I guess I haven't really changed much over the years."

He hasn't. Despite the Hall of Fame recognition, the 25 World Series he's called or the legendary aura that accompanies him wherever he goes, Scully still mouthed "Oh, wow!" as he walked into the Dodger interview room Wednesday, surprised by the number of reporters in front of him. He still felt uncomfortable when the Dodgers honored him with Tuesday's video-board announcement, when the fans gave him a standing ovation. He went so far as to suggest the announcement should've been mentioned in the game notes instead.

"In all honesty, I don't ever feel that I've done anything," Scully said. "Somebody will say, 'You've done 19 no-hitters and three perfect games,' and I think, 'I just happened to be there.' It's not something that I can take any pride in. I am humbled, believe me, for being given the honor of working the games all of these years.

"I agree with everybody else," he jokes. "It's a long time to keep working at one job with no advancement -- 65 years."

Scully, this season, has announced all Dodgers home games and road games in California and Arizona for Time Warner Cable's SportsNet LA. He hopes to reprise the same role in 2015.

"April is a long way from where we are right now," he said. "I pray that I'll be allowed to come back, and that's exactly how I feel."

Scully said he discussed the decision with his wife, Sandy, who gave him her complete blessing -- despite the fact that his many nights away at the ballpark can be difficult for her.

"Sandy has just been remarkable with that," Scully said. "I owe her everything, and she's as much a part of me as my heart and soul."

More than anything, Scully said he simply isn't ready to say goodbye. He said he still loves what he does. He still gets excited at games, as he did Tuesday night. He's explored retirement. Sure, he's considered it, but replacing a 65-year passion is no easy feat. And he knows when he does decide to retire, there will be no going back.

"I might come back once if someone invites me, but when I hang it up, that would be that," Scully said. "It's awfully hard. And the thought, 'What would I do?' I've had a lot of people -- many of whom I have tremendous respect for -- and they all advised me, 'Whatever you do, don't retire.'" Scully had a taste of what retirement could be like in the '90s, during the players' strike, when he had "nothing to do." He played golf every day for a week -- before it got old. He met with "the guys" a couple of times a week for lunch -- before it got old. At one point, he said he found himself standing in a hardware store, just looking at things.

He felt out of place, and that just isn't the case at Dodger Stadium.

"I say this in all honesty: When I come to the ballpark, I'm so happy to see Marie or Rita running the elevator," Scully said. "I walk in, and I see James and Robert in the press box. I walk into the press box, and I see most of you [the media], and I'm so glad to see you. You're my friends. I've known and seen you, even if I don't know all of your names.

"I just feel like I'm home."

And then there are times like the first inning on Tuesday, when Vin Scully feels something more, when he feels the goosebumps all over again, when he knows -- for certain -- that he wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

Michael Lananna is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.