I spent nine years as a major and minor league baseball play-by-play announcer, so I have a unique perspective on what went down with San Diego Padres’ recent Dick Enberg TV hire.
(Padres, Enberg jacked Neely’s gig for no good reason)
Jay Posner of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE reports that despite the fact that the Padres already had a TV announcer under contract for this season, Mark Neely, the club still went out and hired Enberg for the job - kicking Neely to the curb.
The 74-year-old Enberg was well aware of Neely’s situation yet told Posner that, “I don’t feel that I betrayed anyone.”
As you know, Enberg’s been to the top of the sports broadcasting mountain. As you may not know, Mark Neely spent a decade riding buses in the low minor leagues, finally working his way into a full-time major league opportunity.
I knew Mark when I was the Yankees’ AAA announcer in Columbus and he was doing Louisville games. Talented guy who was well-liked by his peers. And someone who worked his way up from the very bottom of the business into his dream job. Amazing accomplishment.
So why on earth would the Padres do such a thing? And Enberg would go along with it?
I’ve got a pretty good idea.
As I learned first hand in trying to get major league baseball announcing jobs, broadcasters almost never quit, content to go through the motions until they’ve quite literally fossilized. (And that still never stopped Milo Hamilton.)
I can’t blame Enberg for wanting to remain active. But knowingly taking another man’s job, a man who is a competent broadcaster, was not the way to do that.
But Padres officials are as much to blame here. They are not bringing Enberg in because Mark didn’t do a good job. They’re bringing Enberg because their on-field product is an abject disaster and they want to use the legendary announcer to try to somehow regain some credibility with fans. Along with broadcast advertisers and viewers.
If the franchise had not fallen into such a state of disrepair, I highly doubt Enberg would’ve been offered the opportunity. But because of the Padres’ putrid on-field product - and Enberg having a complete disregard for one of his industry peers - we get what we get this week.
Mark’s reax? First class:
“I’m just going to keep working hard, taking advantage of the opportunities when I get them. I’m still doing games. It’s still the big leagues. Just put it in perspective: I live in San Diego, I’m healthy, my family’s healthy and life is still good.”
And it isn’t like we’re talking about an announcer who has been associated with a franchise for decades. Enberg has zero connection to the club that would resonate with fans and viewers. Yet at 74, he’s got nothing better to do than call a Padres-Pirates game with about 14 people watching - and push a guy who broke into the bigs the hard way off a cliff.