Rancho Santa Fe Resident, Enberg excited to announce Padres games

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New Padres broadcaster Dick Enberg has been in Peoria, Ariz., for the past six days, talking to players, manager Bud Black and general manager Jed Hoyer and, generally, watching these early workouts in preparation for his first season calling games on Channel 4 in San Diego. The 75-year-old Enberg, who makes his home in Rancho Santa Fe, north of San Diego, took a few minutes to answer questions from MLB.com.Why was it important to come out here to Peoria this week and how did you spend your time?
It’s been enormously productive. Part of it is just being in the environment, around the lexicon of the game, the strategy of the game and just talking baseball. Because baseball is so intimate, I have had the opportunity to talk with a lot of people. I had dinner with manager Bud Black and then with general manager Jed Hoyer. And just being able to go up to a player or a coach and they’ll give you time has been helpful. I’ve tried to keep as much contact as possible and keep my ears open.
I have seen you outside watching workouts on the field, watching pitchers throw off the mound and watching hitters in the cage. It seems you’re really getting a kick out of this experience.
Last night my wife called and we’re talking and she said, “I can tell it in your voice, you are really happy.” For me, it’s really been the right call at the right time. The other day I was watching Dave Roberts [former player, now special assistant to baseball operations] school some of the young guys on stealing bases. He’s talking about taking a lead, how not to get caught by the left-hander’s move. These are all the things I love about baseball. It’s a perfect time to be here. You can talk to so many people here without the pressure of a game later in the day.
This won’t be your first time being a play-by-play broadcaster for a Major League baseball team. Tell me about your experience calling California Angels games (1969-1978 and again in 1985)
I resisted it initially, even though it’s my favorite sport and my favorite game. But at the time, I was doing the pre- and postgame show on the Angels telecasts, which allowed me to do some little essays and interviews. I had a half-hour show and it was only me. I was doing the Rams radio, I was the UCLA television broadcaster, I was doing boxing from the Olympic Auditorium and the sports on the newscast in the evenings. I had a wonderful, full plate. They told me that if I took baseball, I would have to give up these other things. I said how about if I do it one year? I tried to quit my first year. The Angels were terrible. Fortunately, wiser heads prevailed.
You started working with Don Drysdale in 1973, doing the Angels games. What was that experience like?
When Don Drysdale became my partner … life became brilliant. It didn’t matter if you were winning or losing. With Drysdale, the broadcasts were fun. Being with Don … he wouldn’t let you get down. I would take the losses too seriously and he would say, “C’mon professor” — he would always call me professor — “they don’t care, so you shouldn’t care. I’ll buy you a drink.” I’ve been fortunate to have so many great colleagues. With baseball, you’re with that man more than in any other sport. He was always happy. It was a shame he went too quickly.
You didn’t arrive at the decision to accept this job calling games for the Padres easily, did you?
There were a lot of brain cells burned trying to think this through. I have an ESPN deal where I do three of the [tennis] majors — the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the French — and also the NFL package on CBS. I had shaped my life perfectly. There had been a few flirtations about baseball in the past. But how could I greedily keep doing the things I had been doing and do baseball? I learned in 1985, when Gene Autry hired me back to do 40 games, that baseball is a day-to-day-to-day games. You can’t just do a game here and a game there and miss two weeks.
With that in mind, how did you reach an agreement for a schedule that would allow for 120 or so Padres games while still doing the Australian Open and Wimbledon?
After the initial discussions, their original thought was they would structure a schedule where I did the games within the division and home games. That was a wonderful concession on their part. We gave it a lot of thought and said if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it. We came back and said, ‘What if we do all the games, except the US Open?” I felt like if I’m going to be the announcer, I want to be the announcer.
What are some of the things you’re looking to most this season?
Had the Yankees, Red Sox or any other club called and offered me the same opportunity, I would have said, “No, thanks.” To be one of the baseball announcers in your hometown is important and it played a major part of this decision. When you think about the impact a baseball announcer has in his hometown, how many hours he’s on the air, it’s like 600 hours maybe, where you are exposed to your community — you’re an ambassador to your community. I really relish the opportunity to play that role. I look forward to a perfectly executed double play. There’s a rhythm and artistry about a double play that’s a beautiful thing. It’s four seconds and two outs, but it’s so much more than that. My creative juices are flowing. I was kidding with Bud Black and said, “Hey, look what I did for John Wooden.” [Enberg called eight of the Bruins’ NCAA championship seasons].

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