On Friday it was announced that Dick Enberg was one of ten finalists for the Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick award. He's had a long storied 50 year career in broadcasting but what caught my eye was that he's only broadcasted 18 baseball seasons (California Angels, 1968-78, 1985; NBC, 1980-82; Padres 2010- ). That'd be the fewest of all the finalists, by a good margin, if not for Jack Quinlan's untimely death after 10 years. The other 8 finalists average 36.75 seasons, double Enberg's total.
I never listened to him in the 70's or 80's when he called Angels games but I wonder if this is one of those cases where Enberg's reputation for broadcasting excellence in other sports has seeped in to color his baseball years in a rosy glow. If Enberg was in his prime during his years broadcasting the Angels then why wasn't he nominated earlier? It'd be hard to believe that his years with the Padres have given him the final boost he needed.
With the Padres Enberg has received some scathing reviews locally from bloggers and viewers on Twitter in recent years. There's no arguing that his eye sight has deteriorated and it regularly gives him reason to miscall plays and mistaken players for others. Enberg admits that he's not as sharp as he once was.
I'm not going to pretend that I'm a huge fan of Enberg's stuffy style but I can definitely understand that he brings value to the broadcast. I actually prefer Enberg to his usual replacements in the booth. At least Enberg brings the star quality that makes you feel like you're watching a Major League production.
I appreciate him and his legacy, but his old-school objective style that causes him to become overly excited when the opposition scores doesn't synch with my new-school root for the Padres above all else attitude. He's a fan of the game, I'm a fan of the Padres.
All that said, the duo of Dick Enberg was recently ranked 9th by Jesse Spector of the Sporting News among active MLB broadcast teams.
That Enberg and Grant are able to provide the nuts and bolts of the contest and make some good points along the way, while also providing some entertainment, is a testament to the strength of their work.
It took time for the duo's opposing styles to work together but I admit that now they put on a pretty decent show.
It's hard for me to say if Enberg is Frick quality since I never listened to him in his prime. I'll leave that to the Hall of Fame committee to decide. But as a homer I strongly favor Ted Leitner who has 35+ years experience and the pure Padres pedigree for the award. He wasn't finalist though and probably will never be, which is a shame.