MLB.com Columnist

Barry M. Bloom

For Frick speech, Enberg finding perfect words

Broadcasting legend hopes to share stories, give thanks as he receives award

For Frick speech, Enberg finding perfect words

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Dick Enberg sat down at a table in the Petco Park media dining room the other day and didn't mince words. He never does, particularly in the sports broadcasting business.

"I wasn't this stressed doing my first Super Bowl," Enberg said.

With that, Enberg didn't stop talking for nearly 25 minutes. There was no need to ask any questions, only to perhaps redirect the monologue.

Enberg, now 80, is one of the giants. His broadcasting resume includes almost every major sporting event, plus he began his career as a television game show host.

On Saturday at Doubleday Field, Enberg will receive the Ford C. Frick Award from the National Baseball Hall of Fame for a meritorious career that includes years of baseball broadcasting.

Hall of Fame
Hall of Fame Class of 2015

Enberg has been doing Padres telecasts since 2009, long after he covered the Angels and did national baseball broadcasts for NBC.

Along the way, there was also Wimbledon, the Super Bowl (starting with his first one in 1980 -- the Raiders over the Eagles), the U.S. Open men's golf tournament, college basketball and the World Series, among so many others. And we're talking about multiples. If there's a Hall of Fame for a particular sport, Enberg has been recognized by it, save bowling.

"Yeah, I've been very privileged," Enberg said, being careful not to cast dispersions on any of the other sports. "[The Frick Award] is the culmination of a very privileged career."

Enberg will be the 39th recipient of the award, and he was elected last year by a 20-man committee largely comprised of his peers: former Frick winners Vin Scully, Jon Miller, Tim McCarver, Joe Garagiola Sr., Jaime Jarrin and Bob Uecker, just to name a few. Jerry Coleman, a former Major League second baseman and Padres broadcaster from 1972 until his death in 2014, received the Frick in '05.

Enberg said he had been having trouble finding the time to finish his speech, to be clocked at 11 minutes. He had to thank some people and tell some stories.

"The interruptions have just prolonged getting it done," he said. "Last night I got home from the game, I stayed up until 12:30 a.m. I got up at 5:30, because I'm lying in bed thinking, 'I've got to get this stuff on paper and sort it all out.'"

Enberg thinks that 11 minutes is not enough to do both. He said he doesn't want to list name after name, nor does he want to do a speech that will be devoid of color.

The time limit has already made Enberg toss two stories into the trash can, he said. His first draft clocked out at 16 minutes, so he whittled it down to about 13. When Enberg asked Hall officials if that was close enough, it wasn't.

"They said, 'Can you get one more minute out?'" Enberg said.

Enberg's first pitch

The same Hall officials who are telling Enberg to cut, cut, cut, have also told him to tell stories. People remember the stories.

When Miller, the longtime Giants' radio voice, was given the Frick in 2010, he began his speech with an anecdote about the first game his father took him to at Candlestick Park in 1962. Miller said he trained his binoculars as much on the announcers in the press box as he did at Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda on the field.

"In fact, this is when the moment that changed my life occurred," Miller relayed. "I'm looking into that visiting broadcast booth and right in the middle of an inning that broadcaster grabbed a big handful of, I thought it was French fries, and he jammed all these French fries into his mouth. Then he grabbed a cup full of whatever. He took a big pull on that cup. And as a 10-year-old I sat there and said, 'That is the life for me.'"

And Miller went on from there to give thanks and spin some more yarns. By the way, his speech was not 11 minutes. Neither was the induction address Joe Torre gave last year that lasted 35 minutes.

"Everybody goes 15," Enberg said. "I timed it last year, and everyone went at least 15. I don't want mine to just be acceptable. I want it to be good."

As he grew up, Enberg wasn't quite as urbane as Miller, nor did he have a hankering to solely broadcast baseball as a living. In fact, he had to be talked into broadcasting baseball. But Enberg has his own stories. He said he'll begin the speech with one about his first baseball broadcast.

"It was in the San Fernando Valley during World War II on a dirt field where I learned to bat right and left-handed with a tennis ball," Enberg said. "I'd bat one way for the Angels and then I'd bat the other way for the Hollywood Stars. Calling it, I'd memorize the teams. And that's how I began."

And on Saturday, that's certainly not the way it'll end. In his mind's eye, Enberg has already envisioned all that.

"It doesn't look good for this year," he said, "but wouldn't it be great if next year, when we have the All-Star Game, in a dream scenario, that I did my last game when the Padres win the World Series?"

They never have, but Enberg can still dream.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.