Dick Enberg says he won’t be leaving Wimbledon after five decades and a 32nd and last trip as a broadcaster with a broken heart.
He always has baseball to go back to.
“It’s nice to have two loves, to have enjoyed each for her own charms, all the whole one has the time and longevity to stay the course for the rest of my useful time,” Enberg said via e-mail from England on Tuesday, not long after calling Serena Williams’ emotional first-round three-set victory over Aravane Rezai.
Since the 76-year-old Enberg has decided to effectively leave the life of a network broadcaster and come back starting in 2010 to call day-to-day baseball for the San Diego Padres, he’s allowed himself a three-week break in the season to return to Wimbledon for ESPN’s coverage. But this is it.
It was his year doing the Padres games that made the former Angels’ play-by-play man that baseball was where he wanted to end his career fulltime.
“I’m inspired by the continuing success of Vin Scully and Jerry Coleman,” Enberg said of the two Baseball Hall of Famers who continue to work in their 80s. “Hopefully, I can be as productive, as I move forward. Baseball, unlike any other sport, allows that.
“Nevertheless, I’ll really miss Wimbledon. Without fail, it has allowed me to fall in love every time I visit. And I’ll embrace that.”
Enberg isn’t sure yet if ESPN2 will include him calling any finals, since NBC has the live coverage for the final days. ESPN does redo matches for ESPN Classic.
Enberg is also doing about 10 vignettes, reflecting on some of his favorite matches and moments, since first arriving at Wimbledon in 1979 for the first ever live telecast to the United State – a “breakfast at Wimbledon” telecast for NBC with Bud Collins and Donald Dell, when no one was sure if anyone would wake up at 6 a.m. on the West Coast for the feed.
Now, ESPN2’s coverage begins every morning at 4 a.m. PDT.
Another vignette will be on that 1979 final with Bjorn Borg and Roscoe Tanner (Dell was Tanner’s agent), as well as one on the Williams’ sisters dominance and the 1982 Jimmy Connors-John McEnroe final.
Enberg told the San Diego Union-Tribune last week that it was his decision to make this his final Wimbledon and “ESPN was sensitive to give me a chance to say goodbye to an event that has been my favorite.”
Enberg is scheduled to come back to covering the Padres’ games for San Diego’s Channel 4 on July 6 in San Francisco. He will also miss 11 games in September while doing the U.S. Open for CBS, which he will also give up after this year.
UPDATE: A USA Today piece on Enberg that ran Wednesday (linked here)