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Dennis Eckersley offers poignant, thoughtful insight as broadcasting career nears its end

CBS SF Bay Area 9/29/2022 Michael Hurley

BOSTON -- With the Red Sox wrapping up a wasted season, there hasn't been much reason for most fans to be watching with rapt attention for every minute of every game. Yet for the many who enjoy listening to Dennis Eckersley on the NESN broadcast, these are the final days to take in one of the most unique game broadcasters in sports history.

And in what proved to be a thoughtful, reflective, and poignant moment during Tuesday night's 4-hour affair between the Red Sox and Orioles, Eckersley touched on his personal approach to the job while also explaining in great detail why he's walking away.

The moment came when Will Middlebrooks,  the former Red Sox infielder who's spending his first series in the booth as a color analyst, asked Eckersley for some advice on how to succeed at the job. Eckersley took the moment seriously, turning his chair to face away from the game so that he could speak directly to Middlebrooks. Suffice it to say, the advice offered was one of a kind.

Here's what Eck had to say, in full, courtesy of the NESN broadcast:

You know something, not being afraid to say what needs to be said. You know, that's probably one of the hardest things to do, coming out of the dugout. You know, once you leave the dugout, you're not in the dugout anymore, right? I think players have a hard time with it. You know, because this game is not easy, right? And then we get up here, and we think it's easy. It looks a lot easier up here, doesn't it?

And ultimately, be who you are. Because -- and it's scary, because if you are who you are, you can't be afraid to be who you are. I feel like sometimes, you feel a little naked up here, because, I don't know -- it's falling off a cliff sometimes. Because you never know. It's live.

And I've talked to you before about it. This is as close as it gets to playing, right? Because you get a little nervous. I love it. That's why it's gonna be hard to leave. Because there's nothing that you do in life that gets you going like this, right? I mean, you might get going playing golf and maybe a 5-footer or something, you're worried about. But not like this, right?

I'm tired. I am tired of grinding. Every day. Even when I don't do these games, I'm thinking about it. I'm watching, and I'm thinking baseball as soon as I open my eyes.

The thought of not having to do it anymore sometimes feels pretty good. It's like, how long are you gonna do this anyway? These guys don't -- most guys don't leave this job. You can't kick guys outta here.

The 67-year-old Eckersley announced in August that this would be his final season in the NESN booth, as he's moving to California to spend time with his grandchildren. He's been involved in professional baseball since he was a 17-year-old playing for the Reno Silver Sox in 1972, the start of a Hall of Fame playing career that came to an end in 1998. He's worked at NESN since 2003.

As Eckersley stated at the time, "There are times in your life when you realize you've got to get on with it." It's certainly a decision that will leave Eckersley fans missing his calls, but it's clear that Eckersley has made his peace with his choice.

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