As Dennis Eckersley gets set to retire from the Boston Red Sox TV booth at the end of this season, the Hall-of-Famer reflected on what it takes to be a successful broadcaster.
The conversation was prompted by Will Middlebrooks during their Tuesday night Red Sox broadcast on NESN, as the former third baseman attempted to learn from Eckersley about making the transition from the dugout to the booth.
“Not being afraid to say what needs to be said,” Eckersley answered. “That’s probably one of the hardest things to do coming out of the dugout. Once you leave the dugout, you’re not in the dugout anymore. Players have a hard time with it, because this game is not easy and then we get up here and it looks a lot easier up here.
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“Be who you are and it’s scary because if you are who you are, you can’t be afraid to be who you are,” Eckersley continued. “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.”
The live part of broadcasting can be “scary” at times for Eckersley and other announcers, but it also serves as fuel for the job, specifically for former athletes looking to transition into the booth.
“This is as close as it gets to playing because you get a little nervous,” Eckersley explained. “I love it. that’s why it’s going to be hard to leave, cause there’s nothing that you do in life that gets you going like this.”
Eckersley’s sentiment is shared by many former players, with the preparation required to be a game analyst resembling that of the preparation needed to be a successful athlete. Drew Brees and Tom Brady have both admitted an appealing aspect to being a game analyst is the fact that it allows them to prepare as if they were still playing.
Despite noting that it’s going to be hard to leave, the 68-year-old Eckersley also admitted that it still “feels pretty good” to know that he’s leaving the daily grind of baseball. Eckersley started his professional baseball career in 1972 and transitioned to broadcasting nearly two decades ago. After 50 years in professional baseball, Eckersley looks forward to spending more time with his family and grandchildren.