Enberg says farewell following final broadcast

Legendary Padres play-by-play man ready to transition to being a fan

Enberg says farewell following final broadcast

PHOENIX -- Never one to shy away from his emotions, Dick Enberg, speaking to the media earlier this week, recounted the time a writer accused him of "crying at a red hat."

But following San Diego's 3-2 season-ending loss to the D-backs -- the final broadcast in Enberg's legendary career -- the Padres' play-by-play man said he felt very much at peace.

"By announcing over a year ago, it's allowed me to ease into this," said Enberg, who was feted by the Padres in an emotional ceremony at Petco Park Thursday night before the team's final home game. "Thursday, it all hit me most of all. That, to me, was when the shade came down."

Padres honor broadcaster Enberg

Nonetheless, it's the end of a brilliant career for the 81-year-old Enberg, who has said on multiple occasions that he "abhors" the word retirement.

Fifty-one years ago, Enberg received his first full-time broadcasting gig at KTLA in Los Angeles, and since then, he's called 42 NFL seasons, 71 major tennis championships, 15 NCAA basketball title games, 10 Super Bowls, nine Rose Bowls and the 1982 World Series.

So what could he possibly do as an encore to a career so vast and influential?

Well, first he has plans to go fly fishing with his wife, Barbara, in Idaho. And then, he's going to watch Padres games with a bit of a different perspective.

"I'm going to make the transition to being a fan," Enberg said. "When I stopped doing NFL, and when I stopped doing college basketball and pro basketball, and when I stopped doing tennis, people would say, 'Don't you miss it?' The answer has really been, 'No, I don't really miss it.'

"I actually like being a fan. And as I think about it now, that's what I've been for 60 years -- a fan that has a voice. And, hopefully, I'm speaking to the fans, and they enjoy the experience a bit more, because I'm helping to point out the hues and shades and rhythm of sport."

Over the course of six decades, Enberg did exactly that -- as evidenced by his 14 Emmy awards and nine Sportscaster of the Year awards.

Of course, baseball also said goodbye to Vin Scully on Sunday, after he spent 67 seasons calling Dodgers games. Enberg isn't tied to baseball the same way Scully is. But baseball has always been his first love.

Scully pays tribute to Enberg

With the pair of broadcasting titans set to retire, some might call it the end of an era.

"It's the end of an era only in that we got old," Enberg quipped.

Enberg has reiterated that he doesn't plan on slowing down. He has a third book in the works, and he's expressed interest in teaching.

Before Enberg called his final game at Petco Park on Thursday, the Padres bestowed all sorts of honors upon him. They renamed Broadcast Booth 1 -- the home booth when Enberg arrived, which now is used by the visiting team -- calling it "The Dick Enberg Broadcast Booth."

They also presented him with a customized surfboard and a silver microphone, before letting him call an inning of the game alongside his son, Ted.

But in Enberg's eyes, the most meaningful honor may have been the smallest gesture of the bunch. The Padres renamed a small room in their media area, "Dick's closet," essentially creating a pseudo-office for Enberg.

"The one thing they gave me that they thought was just a little token was maybe as meaningful as any of them," Enberg said. "That office I have -- for them to call that Dick's closet, symbolically, that's telling me that I'm welcome back next year, that I have a place to go. ... That really touched me deeply."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.