Enberg perfectly articulates choice to cut back

Padres television voice won't be totally silent

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

It has been a week since Dick Enberg announced that next season would be his last in the booth as the Padres' primary television voice.

And the more I reflect on the Enberg's candor regarding his decision, the more I respect a man who I always felt was one of the best in his profession.

Enberg loves what he does for a living. That will never change. But like everyone on this planet, Enberg is on borrowed time. There comes a time for all of us to balance the scales.

"It's an old cliché," Enberg said in his wind-down press conference. "The guy on the deathbed never said 'I wished I'd worked more in my life.'

"That kept resonating with me. I thought, 'Well, how can I have the best of both worlds?'"

Deciding to cut back has not been an easy decision for the 80-year-old Enberg. But he said the pendulum started swinging this past year as he contemplated his own mortality.

Over the past 18 months, Enberg has dealt with the passing of a younger brother, a younger sister and his daughter.

"In these past two years," said Enberg, "it really said 'Hey, Dick, look in that mirror and recognize your own mortality.'

"It's been a struggle all year thinking about it, but I'm really happy I made this decision. I think it is right. Another factor here, was at 80, I finally am a grandfather. … I want to enjoy that, too.

"Everyone around me has really given up a lot, including my brother and sister who are not with us, so that I could have this great life. It happened seamlessly because everyone around me allowed me to do what I love to do.

"It's time for me to give back to them. And it's going to be best for me, too. It's going to be a part of my life that I haven't experienced as fully as most men do. I think back about how ridiculous I've been."

I think I was doubly interested in Enberg's words, because -- in a much smaller arena -- I, too, have enjoyed a profession I love beyond the normal "retirement" age.

Like Enberg, I like the work and the people in the baseball and media business. Like Enberg, I will eventually face the same questions he faced. Most of us are in the same boat.

I just hope I am as clear-headed as Enberg.

Thankfully, Enberg is not disappearing from his home of the past seven seasons. He and the Padres are working on what he calls "a soft landing." He has projects he wants to continue with the Padres, such as his insightful "Coffee and Me" interviews, which I believe is some of his best work.

But we will hear less of his voice daily.

Enberg deserves that "soft landing."