Now, Eckersley decided it was time to focus on a different role, making sure two people in particular would know him well.
Eckersley will retire from the NESN booth at the end of the season. His last broadcast will be on October 5th, the regular season finale. He and wife Jennifer will move to his native California in October so he can spend as much time as possible with his twin grandchildren, who will turn 4 that month.
“I’ve been thinking about this for a long time,” Eckersley, who turns 68, said in October. “It’s not significant, but it’s a somewhat rough figure, leaving. I started playing professional soccer in ’72, when I was 17 and graduated from high school. fifty years ago. I’ve been with NESN for 20 years, although it doesn’t seem like that because I didn’t do much of the first four or five years. So it’s time.
But the symmetry of the numbers is not the reason why he decided that this was the time to leave.
It is very important for him to be present as a grandfather.
He said, “There are times in your life when you realize you have to move on. Having grandchildren in the Bay Area and visiting them off-season, that really pushed me forward. I just knew, you need to go and be with the kids. Those formative years, you should be there.”
“There is only so much time. How can you not see it in front of you without thinking “Wait a minute, man”. There must be other priorities. You need to think of other people.”
Red Sox fans may be surprised, and even stunned, by Eckersley’s decision to walk away. He’s been working in about 75 games this season and is staying sharp and more fun than ever.
But his bosses at NESN have known for a while that it was a possibility.
He said, “I was cruising around the holiday season last year when they were trying to line up the guys and they were doing the audition. It didn’t baffle them. I’ve been sitting on this for a while.
“NESN has been really great to me. They let me be who I wanted to be. They let me be myself. They just let me do my own thing. When you think about it, when it’s all over, said and done, what a partnership! It was great for me and the Red Sox and NESN. It was made in heaven. I was just talking to Jennifer about it, how it was a place that reflects my passion. A perfect match.”
Grid echoed his feelings.
“We are fortunate that Dennis has been a part of our coverage of the Red Sox on NESN for 20 years. His unbridled passion, precise vision and sense of humor will be missed by Eck, and we are grateful for his many contributions to NESN,” said Sean McGrill, NESN President and CEO. All the best as he embarks on this next chapter of his life as a grandfather, father, husband, and member of the Red Sox Nation.”
If he has a lament, it’s that he hasn’t worked with Jerry Remy much. Remy was in his 16th season as a celebrity colorist in 2003 when Eckersley joined NESN, and over the years, Eckersley has always respected the place and prestige of his former Red Sox teammate. But in the last two seasons, Before Remy died of cancer last OctoberThey were often together in a three-man booth with the voice of Dave O’Brien, and the chemistry, especially in their most frank moments, was extraordinary.
“Looking back at working with Jerry, it ended up being pretty cool,” Eckersley said. “And when we’ve done it regularly, it’s over pretty soon.”
Eckersley acknowledges that the job is not without its pressures. The Eckersleys currently live in Hingham, and driving to Boston, as any traveler knows, isn’t exactly great for the mood.
“You can take that Form I-93, and…,” he says, referring to an unprintable verb in a family publication. “I remember once last year when I was driving from bumper to bumper, I was thinking, ‘I have to get out of here. “By the time I got to the stadium, I was nervous about the gills.”
Eckersley’s minimalist style on air contrasts with the tireless preparations he makes on the job, which includes coming home and watching West Coast games after his broadcast on the Red Sox ends.
He thought about “helicopter in” next season, he said — doing a few games here and there, which NESN would have allowed — but decided it would feel like cheating on viewers.
“I can’t do that. You have to be all in doing this job,” he said. “That’s something I’m proud of. I watch everything all the time. This is the setting – watching.” He laughs. “I’ve been living this [expletive] for 50 years. I don’t know what it will be like when he doesn’t have to pay attention.
“It’s funny how it all started. I went back my last year in 1998 to play here. Why don’t I know. I was awesome. But maybe there was a reason I was supposed to do it when you look at your life. I would probably never have fallen into broadcasting if I hadn’t.”
While Eckersley is leaving the broadcast, he hasn’t left Fenway Park behind forever. He is already looking forward to returning from time to time to corporate and community functions and appearing in the Legends Suite on the field.
“I can’t say enough about Boston,” he said, “and I’ll be back.” “I will be here [in the Legends Suite] waving me [butt] turning off.
“What a good timing, though. I started when I was 17, and now I walk. It was a good run.”
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