Dick Enberg, who died today at 82, is remembered as one of sports TV’s all-time greats
Sportscaster Dick Enberg, the celebrated and beloved announcer who for decades delivered play-by-play of major American sports, often with his “Oh My” catchphrase, has died, his family said. He was 82.
“TV sportscaster Richard Alan ‘Dick’ Enberg a beloved husband, father, grandfather, and friend passed away yesterday,” Enberg’s attorney, Dennis Coleman, told CNN in a statement Friday on behalf of Enberg’s family.
“The family is grateful for the kind thoughts and prayers of all of Dick’s countless fans and dear friends,” he said. “At this time we are all still processing the significant loss, and we ask for prayers and respectful privacy in the immediate aftermath of such untimely news.”
Enberg called 42 NFL seasons, 28 Wimbledon tennis tournaments, 15 NCAA basketball title games, 10 Super Bowls, nine Rose Bowls and the 1982 World Series, according to MLB.com. He won 14 Emmy awards and nine Sportscaster of the Year awards, and worked for NBC, CBS and ESPN.
“There will never be another Dick Enberg,” said Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports. “As the voice of generations of fans, Dick was a masterful storyteller, a consummate professional and a true gentleman. He was one of the true legends of our business.”
Enberg died Thursday morning at his home in San Diego’s La Jolla neighborhood, his wife Barbara said, according to The San Diego Union Tribune. She is quoted as saying he didn’t get off a flight in Boston, where they were to meet. She said Enberg appeared to have been awaiting a car to take him to the San Diego airport when he died.
“He was dressed with his bags packed at the door,” she is quoted as saying. “We think it was a heart attack.”
‘We are immensely saddened’
Two years ago, Enberg won the Ford C. Frick Award, the baseball Hall of Fame honor for excellence in broadcasting. He also earned honors from the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and last worked for baseball’s San Diego Padres, retiring in 2016.
“We are immensely saddened by the sudden and unexpected passing of legendary broadcaster Dick Enberg,” Padres Executive Chairman Ron Fowler and Managing Partner Peter Seidler said in a statement.
“Dick was an institution in the industry for 60 years and we were lucky enough to have his iconic voice behind the microphone for Padres games for nearly a decade,” they said. “On behalf of our entire organization, we send our deepest condolences to his wife, Barbara, and the entire Enberg family.”
‘Our hearts are heavy’
Born in Mount Clemens, Michigan, in 1935, Enberg played college baseball at Central Michigan University, according to the Walk of Fame organization, and a student-athlete academic center at the school bears his name.
“Nobody carried their love for Central Michigan as far and wide and as Dick Enberg,” associate vice president and athletics director Michael Alford said, according to a CMU Athletics tweet.
Enberg earned master’s and doctorate degrees from Indiana University and voiced the first radio broadcast of the Little 500, the bicycle race featured in the film “Breaking Away,” according to the Walk of Fame organization. For a time, he called Indiana Hoosiers basketball and football games.
“Our hearts are heavy today,” Indiana University said in a tweet.
Enberg also did play-by-play for baseball’s California Angels and the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams. He called UCLA Bruins basketball games during their string of NCAA titles in the ’60s and ’70s, led by Coach John Wooden.
He called the 1979 Final Four championship game between Michigan State and Indiana State. The game, won by Michigan State, is famous for the rivalry between top players, Michigan State’s Magic Johnson and Indiana State’s Larry Bird.
Enberg handled the January 1968 Houston-UCLA basketball game at the Astrodome, famously known as the “The Game of the Century.” Houston ended UCLA’s winning streak in what was the first regular season national broadcast in prime time.
“That was the platform from which college basketball’s popularity was sent into the stratosphere,” Enberg said, according to ESPN and other sources.
“The ’79 game, the Magic-Bird game, everyone wants to credit that as the greatest game of all time That was just the booster rocket that sent it even higher. … UCLA, unbeaten; Houston, unbeaten. And then the thing that had to happen, and Coach Wooden hated when I said this, but UCLA had to lose. That became a monumental event.”