Vin Scully, 85, is expected to return to the Dodgers broadcast booth next… (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles…)
The rites of late summer in Los Angeles include getting the kids ready to go back to school, counting down to college football season, and awaiting word from the most popular figure in Dodgers history.
We cannot help on the first two fronts, but we bring good news on the third.
Vin Scully is coming back.
The Dodgers announced Friday that Scully, the finest broadcaster in baseball history, will return for a record 65th season in 2014.
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Scully is 85. The Dodgers never would kick him out of the broadcast booth, but he respects his audience too much to mumble around a microphone the way Willie Mays stumbled around center field for the New York Mets, in a sad close to a brilliant career.
So Scully takes it year to year. This year, he has been invigorated by the best reality show in town, the richest-to-worst-to-first Dodgers. Next year? Sign him up.
"It has been such an exciting, enjoyable, wonderful season — the big crowds in the ballpark, everybody is talking about the ballclub, and I really respect, admire and love the management — so everything just fell into place," Scully said.
"I really still enjoy it immensely. My health is good, thank God. So why not? And my wife said, 'Why not?' as well.
"Just the thought of walking away from it to retirement — and looking out the window or something? It's just too good. As a baseball man, and someone who has always loved the game, the situation and the conditions are perfect."
For the Dodgers and their long-suffering fans, nothing could be more perfect than Scully calling the team's first World Series games since 1988.
And, even if the Dodgers do not advance to the World Series, it would be wonderful to hear Scully from the World Series one more time. The online petitions no doubt would start anew, the ones begging Fox to let Scully into the booth for a few innings of the Fall Classic.
If the Dodgers make the World Series, Scully would do radio. If they do not, he would watch on television. He is grateful for those fan petitions, but he is not interested in a courtesy call.
"I wouldn't feel that I deserved to be there," he said. "I would feel that I would be an intruder. And I don't ever want to be that.
"Even if the Dodgers go into the World Series, it's run by networks now — understandably, because they pay the big money. So, no, I wouldn't want to do something just because someone said, 'Oh, let him do an inning.' I wouldn't want any part of that."
As long as television has been a force in popular culture, Scully has been a part of television. In 1950, when Scully made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers, no one on his block had a television.
"The first time my mother and father ever saw me on television, they had to go to a restaurant," Scully said.
In 1956, Scully and Mel Allen called the only perfect game in World Series history, thrown against the Dodgers by Don Larsen of the New York Yankees. In 2009, MLB Network launched with a replay of that broadcast.
At the time, the baseball publicity machine roared into overdrive with stories about how Scully was looking forward to watching the replay. He never had seen it.
Now the truth can be told: He still hasn't.
"It was so dull," Scully said. "First of all, all the announcers back then were somewhat intimidated by the accusations in the press that we talked too much. In listening, I was saying, 'Ball one … strike one … foul ball.'
"Today, the announcer would not only be telling you that he's pitching a perfect game, they would have these tremendous close-ups of whatever emotional reaction the player would have — where he sat in the dugout, people not going near him — and it would be marvelous.
"It was pretty primitive, in looking back to those days 60 years ago. We only had a couple of cameras. It was so dull that I turned back to football.
"So I have never watched the Larson perfect game on television."
Television has come so far that the Dodgers will start their own channel next season — all Dodgers, all the time. The best part? Classic Dodgers broadcasts would mean classic Scully broadcasts. His best calls could be appreciated by a new generation of fans.
The Dodgers have yet to say what will air on their channel besides live broadcasts and replays, but choices under consideration include player biographies and game shows. Scully said the Dodgers have not approached him about getting involved in any shows beyond game broadcasts.
"I think it's best for me — certainly, at this stage — to keep my focus on the field," Scully said. "Maybe, who knows, down the line, I'm not doing the games any more. Then I could be doing voice-overs on biographies, just to do something.
"But, as long as I feel the way I feel, thank God, I would be just thrilled to continue doing what I am doing."
The thrill is ours.