Costas, 61, first acknowledged how much he admires Scully, the longtime voice of the Dodgers and one of the most beloved baseball broadcasters of all time. Moments later, when asked about winning a lifetime achievement award, Costas said there's really only one implication.
"It means that the end is near," said Costas, who won the Walter Cronkite Award in 2012. "'Here's the gold watch, Bob. Out the door you go.' And next year's award for outstanding journalist will go to Blogger No. 602 for his outstanding series of tweets answering the question, 'Who is hotter? Kate Upton or Katherine Webb?' That's where it's going. So Vin Scully fans, hang on while it lasts."
He was teasing. Or was he? Costas is still a vibrant presence on the screen as the host of "Studio 42 with Bob Costas" on MLB Network, and he's entered billions of homes as the studio host for football and the Olympics on NBC.
But it almost never happened that way at all. Costas, the only person to win an Emmy in news, sports and entertainment, originally was on the Vin Scully path. He was a play-by-play man, a guy who loved calling games for a living and who couldn't imagine working in a sterile studio.
Michael Weisman, the broadcasting icon's longtime friend and producer, originally pitched the concept of a studio show to Costas, and heard it fall on combative ears. Weisman said that Costas fought the new assignment until he learned the switch was inevitable, then he got down to perfecting the craft.
"I decided to give him a pep talk, and I said, 'Bob, a studio show is just another show,'" recalled Weisman. "'Act as if it's the show you did at Syracuse. Act as if it's the show you did in St. Louis or at a cable station. It's the same thing. It's you and a camera.'
"He said, 'Mike, perhaps you haven't heard. I've never done a studio show.' Then I said, 'Uh oh! Now I'm nervous.' And it turned out that Bob did a network Sunday football show his first time in the studio. He obviously did very well. He did a terrific job.
"And now I think that Bob is -- in my opinion, without a doubt -- the best all-around sports broadcaster of his generation. ... He's a supreme talent, and I'm thrilled to have grown up in this business with Bob."
Grown up, indeed. Costas was hired by NBC Sports when he was 28, and he's worked virtually every event in sports. Born in Queens, N.Y., he has worked in the studio for NFL coverage and play-by-play for the NBA and MLB, and he's also hosted productions centered on the Kentucky Derby and golf's U.S. Open.
But baseball has long been the Costas calling card. He broke in with Tony Kubek calling the "Game of the Week" back in the 1980s, and he later went on to call play-by-play at the All-Star Game and in the World Series. He has also penned a book, "Fair Ball: A Fan's Case for Baseball," and he's a fan when it comes to some of his broadcasting predecessors.
"Vin Scully is the gold standard among baseball broadcasters," said Costas of the award's namesake. "Baseball has always been my favorite sport. That melds the two. He's a standard of excellence and an enduring standard of excellence, and any honor that bears his name is especially worthwhile."
Costas, a 2012 inductee to the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame, is in fine company as a winner of the Vin Scully Award. Previous winners of the award -- distributed by WFUV Radio, Scully's launching pad at Fordham University -- include Scully himself, longtime NBC broadcaster Dick Enberg (2009) and beloved baseball play-by-play man Ernie Harwell (2010).
Pat Summerall, the veteran NFL broadcaster who passed away on April 16, has also won the award (2011), as has Al Michaels (2012), the ABC broadcaster best known for "Monday Night Football" and his "Do you believe in miracles?" call for the U.S. hockey team at the 1980 Winter Olympics.
And if that wasn't enough company, Costas got more on Thursday.
Longtime ABC anchorman Sam Donaldson, who also served as a White House correspondent and as the co-anchor of the Sunday Program "This Week," was given the Charles Osgood Lifetime Achievement Award in Broadcast Journalism. Donaldson, 79, said the award had profound meaning.
"I'm a fan of Charles Osgood," Donaldson said of the CBS radio host. "And if it weren't for Charles Osgood, I may have skipped [the ceremony] if it was just to get another plaque or something. But I don't consider this just another plaque. Charles represents the gold standard in this business. He's knowledgeable, he knows his stuff, he works hard and he's a gentleman. I aspire to one day have that description. I admire him very much."
Recording artist Rosanne Cash and the Agnes Varis Charitable Trust were also honored on Thursday night by WFUV, but there was something appropriate about having Donaldson and Costas on the same stage on the same night. These men, titans of TV journalism, surely belong in the same breath.
"I've known [Bob] a long time," said Donaldson. "I haven't seen him for years. He may not even recognize me. He, again, has set a standard in sports reporting -- and he's done other things as you well know -- that I think is unequalled. Certainly not today. I just admire him, too. I'm in good company."