Vin Scully returns to Dodgers booth after illness

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Hall of Fame announcer Vin Scully returned to the booth at Dodger Stadium on Sunday after missing five games because of a bad cold.

The 84-year-old had broadcast the Los Angeles Dodgers' first four games of the season at San Diego before getting sick last weekend. Doctors had advised him not to return until the cold weather and rain went away. He missed the team's home opener last Tuesday for the first time in 35 years.

"In my own private world, this is my opening day," Scully said. "I have (Clayton) Kershaw. Ain't no bad crowd to hang around with."

Scully told reporters before Kershaw pitched the series finale against the Padres that he felt good.

"Hopefully, I'll have some fun and stop feeling sorry for myself and get back to work," he said.

Scully is in his 63rd season with the Dodgers, making him the longest tenured broadcaster in sports history. Dressed in his usual suit jacket and tie, Scully appeared in good health and voice before the game.

As Scully opened the broadcast, he didn't mention his absence and he turned down the team's request to announce to the crowd that he was back.

He said he was "furious" about having to miss games.

"Then I thought, 'Well, I didn't do anything to make myself sick. I can be angry at the fates,'" he said. "Then, of course, I was full of disappointment and sure a little self-pity. You go through all that stuff. Finally I thought, 'Well, enough of the emotion. Let's see if we can't get well.'"

But the weather failed to cooperate. Unseasonable cold and two days of rain last week spoiled the city's famous sunshine and warmth, leading Scully to stay away longer.

"The doctors kept telling me if you go and it's cold you could easily have a relapse or more importantly in your weakened condition you could pick up something else and then you're really in trouble," he said.

Scully said he first got sick last Saturday in San Diego, didn't "sleep one wink" that night and then struggled through calling Sunday's game.

"That was the lowest point, trying to do the game," he said, adding that he did his best to avoid coughing Saturday night because he didn't want to make his famously soothing voice hoarse.

Scully felt especially bad about missing the Dodgers' home opener, when his absence was prominently mentioned.

"It just didn't seem right," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.

Scully watched the opener from home, although "my face was in the pillow."

"It was almost heartbreaking to want to be here that badly, not be here and then hear everybody say, 'We miss you, get well,'" he said. "That really was an emotional uppercut. Today I'm just going to give thanks that I'm here and I'm ready to go."

Scully said he was humbled and overwhelmed by the crowd's reaction to his absence.

"I had all kinds of emotions, many of which were humility thinking, I'm just another guy. I'm the most ordinary person you ever met," he said.

"Then I was told, which made me laugh, they said in the eighth inning Matt Kemp twittered and said something to the effect, 'Mr. Scully, please get well.' Then went up to the plate and struck out," Scully said. "I thought how fitting is that? That's what he gets for hanging around with me."

Fittingly, Scully returned Sunday, which was Jackie Robinson Day around the major leagues. He watched Robinson play daily with the Dodgers for more than seven years and became friends with the man who broke baseball's color barrier.

"All I want to do is think about the game and Jackie and how grateful I am to be back," Scully said.

He had already decided this season to scale back his workload by not calling Dodgers games in Colorado. He will broadcast all home and road games in California and Arizona, which adds up to more than 100 games.

Scully calls all nine innings of the team's television broadcasts, while the first three innings of his games are simulcast on the radio. He works alone on the air and long ago reduced his travel schedule to avoid calling games east of the Rockies.

He began his broadcasting career in 1950, and since then has gone on to call three perfect games, 19 no-hitters, 25 World Series and 12 All-Star games. He was behind the microphone for Kirk Gibson's Game 1 homer in the 1988 World Series and Hank Aaron's record-setting 715th home run.