Much ado about nothing? Scully’s confirmation of a 2011 return brings a collective exhale

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AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
Vin Scully shares a laugh with Cincinnati Reds broadcaster and fellow Hall of Famer Marty Brenneman before the start of Sunday’s game at Dodger Stadium.

Vin Scully tried to be as discrete as possible as he snuck into his TV booth Sunday morning, about 15 minutes before a press conference had been somewhat called late with a group of reporters awaiting with cameras, tape recorders and Twitter-ready cell phones to chonicle the plans of the Dodgers’ Hall of Fame broadcaster.

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He already had a rather sheepish look, that much had already been made of something that wasn’t going to happen. If he were Scully-enough about all this, he would have quoted Shakespeare and said all this was much ado about nothing.

All the assembled media had already been told of the official decision about 45 minutes earlier, when the team sent out a press release that the 82-year-old planned to come back for his 62nd season in 2011.

So, no, he wasn’t retiring.

Not now, at least.

But because there was no more a fear of the unknown, even after ESPN Radio had started running a retrospective of his career, the reporters seemed more relieved than Scully by the time he finally came out to clarify everything.

On Saturday night, Scully had told a Los Angeles Times reporter that there would be a decision announced the next day about what he’d planned to do. He didn’t think it was proper to let out what the decision would be, nor did he think he should do it, but it would be proper for the team to disclose it.

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“I got halfway through the (Times) story and thought I’d retired,” Scully said with a laugh as his TV crew joked with him about it when they saw him Sunday morning, a group of close co-workers whom he’d already informed days ago, in some cases. Scully said he’d have thought it would be released in a one-sentence statement at the end of the team’s daily press notes Sunday, and that would be that.

But things aren’t that simple when you’re talking about the most talked-about person in Dodgers history.

Once things start to take a life of their own in the media, no matter who or what starts them, Scully was the only voice in all the noise calm enough to put it into perspective before more than a few dozen media members waiting to hear the official decision from him.

“First of all, I’m terribly embarrassed, this is the last thing that I wanted, though I see you ever day, and it’s nice to see you every day, I am very embarrassed,” he started in a rather quiet voice.

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“It was a long, thoughtful process with my wife, the family, and the end result was that we’ll do it again. So here I am, humbled by all this attention, believe me when I tell you that, and grateful I still feel as good as I do, thank God, and with continued health we’ll be here next year.

“And after that, there was a (headline) in the paper that said ‘Only Scully knows (future),’ but that’s incorrect, only God knows just how long I’ll continue to work. …

“The last thing I need is attention. I’m not kidding you when I tell you that I’m really overwhelmed. … I apologize if I put anyone through a ringer, wondering ‘Is he, isn’t he,’ It is the nature of the situation, but even so I’m very uncomfortable with it.”

Scully said his wife Sandy told him: “‘You love it, do it,’ and so I love it and I’m going to do it.”

With that will, for now, be the same schedule: All home games and those road games involving games west of Denver. All nine innings alone on TV, a simulcast with the radio broadcast for the first three innings.

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As fans were driving to Dodger Stadium to attend Sunday afternoon’s game, they could have listened to the entire Scully press conference on the team’s flagship station, KABC-AM (790), during the pre-game show by Ken Levine and Josh Suchon.

If fans were home and tuned into the pregame show on FSN, they’d have seen Patrick O’Neal open the show explaining how the city “held its collective breath” as word of the ambiguous announcement got out. Jeanne Zelasko did a one-on-one with Scully in the booth and asked him to repeat what he’d said to reporters earlier: “I will be back, God willing, and I hopefully I can continue to do the job.” Zelasko asked him to say it again. “I will be back … it’s starting to sound like General McArthur.”

They even ran a snippet of the interview later in the half-hour program in case anyone missed it the first time.

Scully, in true character, then took blame for how the message was delivered.

“I guess it was my fault, really,” he said. “I made a remark to a writer who said, ‘Well, perhaps 2010 will be your last year,’ and I said, ‘that probably makes sense.’”

Scully was referring to a conversation that led to a panicked column by the Times’ Bill Plaschke late last summer that led to speculation that Scully had all but decided to retire.

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“I shouldn’t have said that,” Scully continued with Zelasko. “And then from then on, eveyrone said, this might be his last year. And I felt embarassed that somehow I had caused all this ruckus, emotion, whatever. I wanted it to be very simple, yes I am coming back, thanks very well for asking. The press has always been extremely kind to me, but just the fuss and feathers made me very uncomfortable.”

As for whether he heard reports on the radio coming into the stadium Sunday that he was all but retired, Scully said that he hadn’t heard it, but that “I guess it was Mark Twain who said rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated. I guess you could say that about the retirement, or whatever.”

Scully, a 1982 Hall of Fame inductee, has done 25 World Series, including all eight that the Dodgers have been involved in, going back to 1953. He’s also called 19 no-hitters (three perfect games) and 12 All-Star Games for the networks.

“I’m not looking for personal accomplishments in any way, shape or form,” he told the reporters again. “I just love it so much, it’s like a very good marriage, and when push came to shove, I just did not want to leave.

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“I’ve had a love affair with this game since I was 8 or 9 years old and I tried to play it (he was an outfielder at Fordham University) and I realized how hard it was to play on the level of the major leaguers. And I’ve been intrigued by their ability. That, and the love of the game still produces goosebumps. And that’s my barometer. The other night, the kid at second base (Colorado’s Eric Young Jr.) threw the ball behind his back. I mean, I had goosebumps like it was the first big-league game I’d ever seen. I’m thinking, ‘Holy mackerel,’ it’s still deep inside of me.

“I’m just blessed. I’m going to try to do the best I can. Please don’t ask me anything about after next year. I’m lucky to look for tomorrow morning.”

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.

And in true Scully fashion, that was the last we’d hear about it — there was nothing mentioned of any of thisl during the Dodgers-Reds telecast.

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