Dick Enberg, who has been summoned to call one last U.S. Open match for CBS Sunday, rarely works on national television anymore, which leads many sports fans to assume he has retired.
“Oh, I get that all the time,’’ he said. “People say, ‘Hey, what are you doing now that you’re retired?’ I say, ‘Well, let’s start with 140 games a season.’’’
Enberg, who turns 80 in January, has been the voice of the Padres since 2010 and has no plans to call it quits. He said his idols are the Dodgers’ Vin Scully, still working at 86, and Jerry Coleman, who called Padres games until his death in January at 89.
“It’s a wonderful thing about human anatomy,’’ Enberg said. “A lot of things might fail, but fortunately the voice seems to live on.’’
Baseball is Enberg’s first love, making this a particularly sweet late-career gig.
“Very much so,’’ he said. “It’s kind of living out the dream. It’s the best announcer game, baseball is. It’s the one I tried to play and I coached in college and I did the Angels for a dozen years.
“The Padres? Well, it’s more fun when they win, but the real test is you lose four or five in a row and you’re driving home and you tried to make an ugly game as palatable as possible and you jump in the shower and the next morning you wake up and you can’t wait to get to the ballpark. That’s the real test.’’
Enberg said he will work about 140 games this season, counting spring training, and has not yet tired of the grind – mentally or physically.
"I’ve always enjoyed travel and like so many of my colleagues I enjoy visiting various cities,’’ he said. “I may cut back a little next year, but so far, so good. You don’t want to be not working when the team does well, and we’re hoping that is just around the corner.
“I would like to be in the booth when they announce the Padres have won a World Series championship. I may not be able to live that long, but I hope that’s in the not-too-distant future. It’s a great organization, a great city.
“One thing people don’t realize is we’re the most provincial major league team of the 30. We’ve got ocean to the west and we’ve got desert to the east and we have the Mexican border 15 miles to the south and we’ve got two major league teams to the north. So it really is just San Diego and San Diego County [that roots for the Padres].
“One of the reasons I was attracted to the job was not just my love for baseball but baseball announcers are ambassadors for their city as well. There’s a lot of down time where you can talk about away from baseball what San Diego means, and the kid that just sang the national anthem from Carlsbad and the show that I enjoyed last night at The Old Globe Theatre and the music played by the high school band from Poway. Those are things that you can bring into a telecast.
“A lot of people still think of it as a small navy town. It isn’t. But there is that provincial feeling about being proud to be from San Diego and I think that’s part of my responsibility along with calling the games: to make us all feel good about the city in which we live . . . It’s not a bad place to drop your head on a pillow.’’