At Home With Dick & Barbara Enberg
Posted on May 16, 2016
“You don’t get doors like these at Home Depot,” jokes Dick Enberg, the celebrated broadcaster, as he welcomes me to the La Jolla home he shares with Barbara, his wife of 33 years. Dick is referring to the heavy oak-and-iron front doors, hundreds of years old, at their entry. The doors, from the south of France, have weathered a lot of history: a copper bullet embedded in one of the panels dates back to World War I.
The entry doors are just one of the architectural treasures that Barbara, a talented interior designer (she has helmed BE Designs since 2004), researched and brought back after “scouting” trips to France, when the couple began building their Mediterranean-style home. “Just buy pieces you love,” advised architect Trip Bennett, who then built the house around them — including limestone floors, fireplace mantels, wooden shutters, and reclaimed brick.
The couple, who met while both worked at NBC, drew inspiration during trips to France where Dick covered the French Open Tennis Tournament for NBC Sports, and later, for ESPN. After the tournament, they’d rent homes in the French countryside before Dick headed to London for Wimbledon. “We have wonderful memories of relaxing family vacations, and consequently, we have developed a special love of French architecture and design,” explains Barbara. Their home reminds them of “those special summers.”
But they also love life in La Jolla, where Dick relishes his “morning meanderings, walking around our beautiful Village.” Close by are shops and restaurants, including Barbarella in La Jolla Shores for “cozy, home-cooked meals,” Giuseppe’s Museum Café, The Cottage, and Harry’s Coffee Shop, a few of the couple’s favorite spots. They attend lectures and special events at UC San Diego and the Salk Institute, exhibits at the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, and performances at the La Jolla Playhouse, of which they are longtime supporters.
Barbara, who has served on the board of the La Jolla Music Society for the past six years, is excited about The Conrad (named after philanthropist Conrad Prebys), a state-of-the-art performance center, set to open on Fay Avenue in 2018. And the Enbergs will serve as Honorary Co-Chairs, along with Stacey and Bob Foxworth, of “Celebrating Couture,” the 2016 Globe Guilders fashion show and luncheon on August 22 at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina. Funds will benefit the Globe’s educational programs, as well as artistic and community outreach.
An avid cyclist, Barbara is also passionate about the Challenged Athletes Foundation, which provides opportunity and support to people with physical disabilities. Inspired by those athletes, she has biked from San Diego to San Francisco several times to raise money for crucial programs.
At home in La Jolla, Barbara especially enjoys alfresco spaces. The dining room opens onto a limestone-paved terrace, with its pool, spa, outdoor kitchen, and ample room for entertaining, whether it’s an intimate gathering with a few guests or several hundred. “It can be very cozy and relaxing, especially at night with a fire going in the outdoor fireplace; our marble sculpture, ‘The Three Graces,’ up-lit against the garden greenery and the lanterns reflecting light around the pool.” Finds from travels include an old stone wall from a French farm field, and a limestone arch that frames a marble statue.
The arch’s twin leads to Dick’s favorite room: a wine cellar that was the first to be completed. “The deal was if she gave me the wine cellar,” says Dick with a smile, “she could do whatever she wanted with the rest of the house.” A winding staircase, which Barbara painstakingly lined with wine corks (gluing them one by one), leads down to a tasting room with a vaulted ceiling made from reclaimed bricks to resemble an underground cave. She also added wine drawers, a “waterfall” display of wine on wooden racks, and light fixtures fashioned from Dutch milk bottles to cast a creamy glow.
There’s also a theater room complete with a bar, pool table, and an old Wurlitzer, decorated with sports memorabilia, trophies and framed photos of the players, coaches, and celebrities Dick has met during his six-decade career. They include his three idols: UCLA’s renowned basketball coach, John Wooden (Dick called eight national championships during his nine years with the coach); the legendary Boston Red Sox hitter (and San Diegan), Ted Williams; and actress and humanitarian, Audrey Hepburn.
Most special is the Ford C. Frick award presented to Dick last July for excellence in broadcasting at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, proclaiming, “A voice for all seasons, Dick Enberg defined what a championship play by play broadcaster could bring to a game.” His career highlights include calling nine no-hitters — four by Nolan Ryan. “There is no better sports theatre, building drama, than calling a no-hitter,” he says. Other thrills? “Pick any Wimbledon final. They were all outstanding.” And there’s a special place in his heart for his eighth — and last — Super Bowl call on NBC in 1998, when the Denver Broncos beat the Green Bay Packers 31-24 here at home in Qualcomm Stadium.
Dick, who has been the Padres play-by-play announcer since 2010, is stepping down after this season, although he’ll likely work with the team on special projects and may even teach broadcasting as a visiting college professor. “I think it’s time to move on with the rest of my life; squeeze all the juice we have left,” he says. “And now there’s time to enjoy travel, and hopefully, more grandchildren.” (The Enbergs have one.) On the couple’s bucket list: Ireland, the Panama Canal, and Croatia.
Dick still hopes to see the Padres go all the way to the World Series one day. And he’d especially savor a no-hitter during this, their 48th season, his last. “It would be a terrific ‘career dessert,’ if you will, to call one in front of — and for — Padres fans.” If that were to happen, as Dick himself would say, “Oh, my!” Andrea Naversen