LOS ANGELES -- Vin Scully's final year of broadcasting brought smiles, tears and unforgettable poignant memories ... and that was just in the announcing booth.Since Harry Truman was president, every generation of Dodgers fans adored Scully. But in 2016, in his farewell season, fans and insiders showed him how much.::
LOS ANGELES -- Vin Scully's final year of broadcasting brought smiles, tears and unforgettable poignant memories ... and that was just in the announcing booth.
Since Harry Truman was president, every generation of Dodgers fans adored Scully. But in 2016, in his farewell season, fans and insiders showed him how much.
:: Take 10: Top stories of 2016 ::
From the president of the United States draping the Medal of Freedom around his neck to the Los Angeles City Council christening Vin Scully Avenue, a nation showed its love for baseball's poet laureate.
That included many on-field participants that trekked to the Vin Scully Press Box before games at Dodger Stadium just to say "hello." And, to say, "goodbye."
"Vin is the only guy that has the farewell tour come to him," broadcasting teammate Charley Steiner said while watching the procession of well-wishers, some in full uniform. Scully said he was "thrilled and humbled" by the visits.
Boyd Robertson literally had a front-row seat as Scully's stage manager for the last 28 years, tacking on to an unsurpassed resume that included 15 years working alongside Lakers legend Chick Hearn.
"We knew it would be a different year, and it was different, it was supposed to be," Robertson said. "Just all the people -- coaches, managers, visiting players, Dodgers players, broadcasters, umpires. I enjoyed that, so I could see how the people respected him for all the years he put in for the game of baseball.
"Some got emotional. I did on the last day in San Francisco, but [Nationals manager] Dusty Baker got emotional. Dusty kissed Vin as they hugged. [Brewers TV broadcaster] Brian Anderson got emotional during an interview at the end, [Braves TV broadcaster] Chip Caray got emotional. It was touching. It was a tremendous year to watch him prepare, as he always does, yet be accommodating to people, even those unannounced."
:: Farewell, Vin Scully ::
Scully called Robertson last Super Bowl Sunday to casually map out how he wanted his final season to play out. Despite cutting out virtually all travel in recent years, he would announce one Spring Training game, then Opening Day in San Diego and the closing series of the regular season in San Francisco against the Giants, "putting the ribbon on the package," as Scully termed it, against the team that caught his affection 80 years earlier to the day of his final broadcast.
Media and "meet-and-greet" requests were off the charts during the season and were funneled through Steve Brener, the Vin Scully of Southern California publicists, who began working with Scully and the Dodgers nearly 50 years ago. They charted a daily schedule that allowed Scully sufficient time to prepare for the broadcast while accommodating visitors.
"He made it very simple and very easy. He's a very classy person," Brener said. "The year was very enjoyable, but at the same time, it was rather sad for me. You want to see a career end the way he ended it, but I just wish -- I grew up with a transistor radio under my pillow before I was part of the organization, and he's the voice I grew up with. You never want to let that voice disappear."
Brener said he believes Scully, 89, "enjoyed every minute" of his final season and never lost his sense of humor.
"He didn't go down for the clubhouse celebration the day we clinched, but I grabbed a pair of goggles for him just in case," Brener said. "And when he was walking with his family to the suite for one last toast, I had the goggles and he put the goggles on and I captured the picture and he used it on social media."
The final weeks of the regular season were particularly eventful -- from the remarkable Friday Night Tribute that kicked off an emotional Vin Scully Weekend to Scully's final Dodger Stadium call of Charlie Culberson's walk-off homer to clinch the division to his ultimate sign-off from AT&T Park, when he told listeners: "I have said enough for a lifetime. And for the last time, I wish you all a very pleasant good afternoon."
"And when we finished and he closed that scorebook like he always had, that got my attention," Robertson said. "'Okay, this is it. It's finished. It's finally over.' Until that moment, I hadn't really thought about the finality of it. We were too busy doing games and you don't have time to reflect. But I did get a little emotional, and we gave each other a hug."
Brener said the emotions didn't end when they left AT&T Park.
"When we landed at Van Nuys Airport, I asked the guy from the L.A. Fire Department if they could do the salute they give when a guy retires, and when the plane landed, they were kind enough to have the fire trucks out there and gave him the watergun salute," Brener said. "When Vin got out of the plane, he shook the hand of every fireman. The guy's just one of a kind."
[Ken Gurnick](mailto:[email protected]) is a reporter for MLB.com.