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L E’s Stories – “Oh My….Touch Em All” – Tribute To Legendary Sportscaster Dick Enberg

Our video museum here at ImaSportsphile grew up during a time that we refer to often as the Golden Age of Sports (1970 to 1995)…..which was the era in which live televised sports grew from infancy in the mid-1950’s to a young adult by the time Bone Daddy started taping the library in 1978…..through an explosion of sports on TV as the major catalyst for the expansion of more live sports on television was driven by the inception and development of satellite television.  During this Golden Age of Sports is when the greatest array of athletes ever assembled graced the television screens across America and the world…. which created legends in virtually every sport around the globe….as these legends are the “stuff that ImaSportsphile is made of”……and as these legends were being made while ultimately becoming a part of all sports fans conscientiousness…..so too were the sportscasters who brought the events of those “legends in the making”…..as these “men behind the mikes” evolved and became legends in their own right…..for there was Curt Gowdy, Jim McKay, Keith Jackson, Brent Musburger, Bob Costas, Howard Cosell, Vin Scully, Jack Buck, Marv Albert, Pat Summerall, John Madden, Chris Berman, Jim Nantz, Mel Allen, Verne Lundquist, Lindsey Nelson, Chris Schenkel, Harry Carey, Dick Vitale, John Facenda and Dick Enberg….with so many more…..as these were the guys that brought the games to life for those of us who grew up listening to their “educated calls”.  Therefore, today’s story is our tribute to one of the best….. who brought a wide array of sports to the viewing audience during The Golden Age of Sports…..as Dick Enberg covered a wide variety of sports from 1960 to 2016…..for he was an integral part of developing live sports on television.                                                                                                                                                            

Sportscasters & Baseball – 2017 – Baseball Special – Dick Enberg’s Letter To Baseball – “Why I Love The Game”                                                                                                                                                                          

Dick Enberg (January 9, 1935 – December 21, 2017) was an American sportscaster…..who over the course of an approximately 60-year career, he provided play-by-play of various sports for several radio and television networks….which included NBC from 1975–1999…..CBS from 2000–2014….and ESPN from 2004–2011)….as well as for individual teams such as UCLA Bruins basketball, Los Angeles Rams football and California Angels and San Diego Padres baseball.  Enberg was well known for his signature on-air catchphrases “Touch ’em all” (for home runs) and “Oh, my!” (for particularly exciting and outstanding athletic plays). He also announced or hosted the Tournament of Roses Parade for many years, sometimes with the help of family members. Enberg retired from broadcasting in 2016, after seven seasons as the Padres’ primary television announcer.

 

Sportscasters – 2015 – Special Conversation Between Dick Enberg + Bob Uecker – Two MLB Hall Of Fame Broadcasters

In the late 1960’s, Enberg began a full-time sportscasting career in Los Angeles….while working for KTLA television…..when he anchored a nightly sports report and called UCLA Bruins basketball…. and KMPC radio while calling Los Angeles Rams football and California Angels baseball…..when after every Angels victory, he would wrap up his broadcast with “And the halo shines tonight” in reference to the “Big A” scoreboard at Anaheim Stadium and the halo at the top….which would light up for everyone in the area to see, particularly from the adjacent freeway. Dick Enberg was named California Sportscaster of the Year four times during this period.  In 1968, Enberg was recommended by UCLA athletic director J.D. Morgan to be the national broadcaster for the syndicated TVS Television Network to cover the “Game of the Century” between the Houston Cougars, led by Elvin Hayes, and the UCLA Bruins, led by Lew Alcindor (later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). This “Prime Time” nationally televised game demonstrated that college basketball had a national “Prime Time” audience…..and stands as a seminal contest in the evolution of nationally televised evening college basketball broadcasts.  Enberg continued to call the occasional UCLA game for TVS through the early 1970’s….while usually teaming with Rod Hundley.  In 1973, Enberg traveled to Beijing, China, to host the groundbreaking TVS Television Network telecast of the USA vs. China basketball game….as it was the first team sporting event ever played between China and the USA.  Plus, in the 1960’s, Enberg announced boxing matches at L.A.’s Olympic Auditorium.                         

Boxing & Sportscasters – 1960 To 1981 – NBC Sports Special – Dick Enberg Tribute To Muhammad Ali

In the 1970’s, Enberg called the 1979 NCAA Championship game between Michigan State, led by Magic Johnson, and Indiana State, led by Larry Bird.  He also hosted the syndicated television game show Sports Challenge…..and co-produced the Emmy Award-winning sports-history series The Way It Was for PBS.  In the 1970 opening conference game in Pauley Pavilion, Oregon went into a stall against the UCLA Bruins…..as Enberg had run out of statistics….and began to fill his radio broadcast with small talk…..when the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid had just been released….and Enberg was humming the tune to “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”….but did not know the words. Two nights later, in a home game against Oregon State, many UCLA students brought the lyrics to the song…..when Enberg promised that he would sing the song if UCLA won the conference championship….as he sang the song following the final game of the season. The event was recorded in the Los Angeles Times and was later recounted in the book Pauley Pavilion: College Basketball’s Showplace by David Smale. During the 2006 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship broadcast, there was a short feature on the event.                        

Sportscasters – 2017 – Special – Dick Enberg Tells The Story Of “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head”                

In 1973, Enberg hosted the game show Baffle, which lasted just a year before being cancelled in 1974. A year later, producer Monty Hall hired Enberg to host the shorter-lived Three for the Money.  In 1975, Enberg joined NBC Sports….and for the next 25 years, he broadcast a plethora of sports and events for NBC….which included the NFL, MLB, the NBA, the U.S. Open golf championship, college football, college basketball, the Wimbledon and French Open tennis tournaments, heavyweight boxing, the Breeders’ Cup and other horse racing events, and the Olympic Games.  Enberg replaced Curt Gowdy as lead play-by-play announcer for the NFL on NBC in 1979…..and on the network’s telecast of the Rose Bowl in January 1980…..as he was in the booth in Pasadena for nine straight years, until ABC took over the broadcast in 1989.                                                                                                                                                             

NFL – 1994 – The NFL On NBC – AFC Championship Intro – Buffalo Bills Vs Miami Dolphins – With Dick Enberg + Bob Trumpy

While on The NFL on NBC, Enberg called eight Super Bowls alongside such former NFL players as Merlin Olsen, Bob Trumpy, Phil Simms, and Paul Maguire…..with his last call being at Super Bowl XXXII in January 1998.  Enberg also anchored NBC’s coverage of Super Bowl XIII….which was called by Curt Gowdy in 1979.  He also called three Canadian Football League games in 1982 during the NFL strike.  Among the notable games called by Enberg was the 1986 Week 3 game which was 51–45 shootout between the Jets and Dolphins….and the 1987 playoff game between Denver and Cleveland.                                   

NFL & Sportscasters – 1987 – AFC Championship Game Highlights – Denver Broncos Vs Cleveland Browns – “The Fumble” With Dick Enberg

According to his autobiography, Oh My!, Enberg was informed by NBC that he would become the lead play-by-play voice of Major League Baseball Game of the Week beginning with the 1982 World Series…. for which he served as pregame host and shared play-by-play duties with Joe Garagiola alongside analyst Tony Kubek…..and through subsequent regular seasons.  He wrote that on his football trips, he would read every Sporting News to make sure he was current with all the baseball news and notes. Then he met with NBC executives in September 1982, and they informed him that Vin Scully was in negotiations to be their lead baseball play-by-play man teaming with Garagiola…..while Kubek would team with Bob Costas….and would begin with the network in the spring of 1983.  In the book, Enberg expresses that he wasn’t pleased about the decision…..especially since he loved being the California Angels’ radio and television voice in the 1970’s and was eager to return to baseball…..but the fact that NBC was bringing in Scully, arguably baseball’s best announcer, was understandable.  Enberg added that NBC also gave him a significant pay increase as a pseudo-apology for not coming through on the promise to make him the lead baseball play-by-play man. Enberg would go on to call some cable TV broadcasts for the Angels in 1985….while citing a desire to reconnect with the sport…..which he has described as having been “in my DNA since I was in diapers”.  Enberg hosted NBC’s pregame shows of the 1985 National League Championship Series with Joe Morgan…..as it was Enberg who broke the news to most of the nation that Vince Coleman was injured before Game 4……when NBC even aired an interview with one of the few people who actually saw the incident, a Dodger batboy.  Enberg was also in Toronto to do the pregame for Games 1 and 7 of the 1985 American League Championship Series alongside Rick Dempsey….who was still active with the Baltimore Orioles at the time.  NBC planned to use Enberg as one of its announcers for The Baseball Network coverage in 1994….but the players’ strike that year ended the season before he had the opportunity to call any games.                                                                                           

Sportscasters – 2016 – Special – A Conversations Between MLB Hall Of Fame Sportscasters Vin Scully + Dick Enberg

As NBC’s voice of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, the last tournament for him being in 1999….. while being alongside Bud Collins and, later, John McEnroe…..as Enberg regularly concluded the network’s coverage of the two-week event with thematically appropriate observations accompanied by a montage of video clips.                                                                                                                                                            

Tennis – 1987 – Intro To Wimbledon Men’s Finals – Ivan Llendl vs Pat Cash – With Bud Collins + Dick Enberg

Tennis – 1986 – Intro To Wimbledon Men’s Finals – Ivan Llendl vs Boris Becker – With Dick Enberg

Tennis – 1984 – Intro To Wimbledon Men’s Finals – Jimmy Connors Vs John McEnroe – With Dick Enberg

Enberg was hired by CBS Sports in 2000, serving as a play-by-play announcer for the network’s NFL,  college basketball and US Open Tennis coverage…..plus, for several years he also contributed to CBS’s coverage of The Masters and PGA Championship golf as an interviewer and essayist.  Another enduring element of Enberg’s broadcasting legacy was his ability to provide warm and poignant reflections on the sporting events he covered…..when Enberg Essays, as they came to be known, were a regular feature of CBS’s coverage of college basketball’s Final Four.  On March 27, 2010, Enberg called his final college basketball game for CBS, an East Regional tournament final featuring the Kentucky Wildcats versus the West Virginia Mountaineers.  After becoming the Padres’ play-by-play announcer, Enberg said he hoped to continue calling late-season NFL games for CBS….but his name was omitted from the network’s announcing roster for 2010.  On September 14, 2009, Juan Martín del Potro defeated Roger Federer to win the Men’s US Open Championship…..as Enberg hosted the post-match ceremony during which del Potro requested to address his fans in Spanish…..but  Enberg declined the request saying that he was running out of time….as he went on to list the corporate sponsored prizes del Potro won….when a couple of minutes later, Del Potro made the same request again….and only then did Enberg relent saying “Very quickly, in Spanish, he wants to say hello to his friends here and in Argentina”…..as an emotional del Potro finally spoke a few sentences in Spanish to a cheering crowd. Many viewers expressed disappointment with Enberg and CBS over the interview.  A CBS executive later defended Enberg, noting that the contract with the United States Tennis Association required that certain sponsors receive time during the ceremony.  He continued to call the US Open for CBS through 2011…..then Enberg returned to call one match and serve as an essayist during the 2014 US Open, to help commemorate CBS’s last year covering the event before ESPN took over in 2015.                                                                                                              

Sportscasters – 2015 – Special – Dick Enberg Calls Phil Mickelson’s Greatest Masters Moments

Beginning in 2004, Enberg served as a play-by-play announcer for ESPN2’s coverage of the Wimbledon  and French Open tennis tournaments….while adding the Australian Open the following year.  Enberg came to ESPN on lease from CBS….where he already called the US Open, the one Grand Slam tournament not covered by ESPN until 2009.  At the 2004 French Open, Enberg called a match per day….and also provided his “Enberg Moments”…..then at Wimbledon in 2004, he participated in a new one-hour morning show called Breakfast at Wimbledon…..when ESPN asked CBS for permission to use Enberg during the summer of 2004 at both the French Open and Wimbledon.  Enberg then surprised his new bosses by volunteering for the 2005 Australian Open in January 2005. “I’ve never been to Australia,” he said. “At my age then [69], to be able to work a full Grand Slam is something I’d like to have at the back of my book.”….when Enberg stopped calling the French Open after 2009 due to his Padres commitments ….although he continued to call the Wimbledon and the Australian Open tournaments over the next two years.  In June 2011, it was reported that his ESPN contract had ended….and that the 2011 Wimbledon tournament would be his final one for the network.                                                                                                

Olympics & Sportscasters – 1996 – NBC Sports “Enberg’s Moments”  At Closing Ceremony Of The Atlanta Olympic Games

In December 2009, Enberg was hired as a television play-by-play announcer by the San Diego Padres…. while signing a multi-year deal to call 110–120 games a season for channel 4SD…..as he primarily teamed with Mark Grant on the Padres’ telecasts.  In his debut season as a Padres broadcaster, Enberg took some criticism from fans over a perceived lack of enthusiasm for the home team. Told that he was regarded by some viewers as getting “too excited” over plays by opposing players….when Enberg responded, “I find that a real compliment.”  He did move to placate the critics, however, by limiting the use of his signature home run call of “Touch ’em all!” to Padres home runs.  In 2012, Enberg returned as play-by-play voice of the Padres…..when they moved their telecasts from 4SD to Fox Sports San Diego….. in the first year of a 20-year deal between the team and the newly formed network. On September 23, 2015, Enberg indicated he would call Padre games for one more season in 2016, then retire.                              

NCAAM Basketball – 2009 – NCAA Tournament West Regional Semifinals Recap – With Jay Bilas + Dick Enberg

On May 21, 2016, Enberg served as a special guest play-by-play broadcaster for the Detroit Tigers in their home game with the Tampa Bay Rays, calling the game on Fox Sports Detroit alongside analyst Kirk Gibson. The Tigers were Enberg’s boyhood team, as he lived in the Detroit area.  Enberg also called a weekend series for the Tigers post retirement….which was an interleague series between the Tigers and the Dodgers, August 18–20, 2017 for FSD…..and then one game for FS1.  Enberg’s last game with the Padres was on October 2, 2016….when in his last week on air, he made a guest appearance with Los Angeles Dodgers announcer Vin Scully……who also was retiring at the end of the baseball season, after a 67-year career….as these guys called sports during the entire Golden Age of Sports…..and that is awesome by any standards.                                                                                                                                              

Sportscasters – 2018 – Billy Packer Speech At Petco Park In San Diego – “A Celebration Of The Life Of Dick Enberg”                                                                                                                                                                  

Enberg garnered many awards and honors over the years…..which included 13 x Sports Emmy Awards (as well as a Lifetime Achievement Emmy)….9 National Sportscaster of the Year awards from the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association, while being inducted into that organization’s Hall of Fame….5 x Sportscaster of the Year awards from the American Sportscasters Association, which also ranked Enberg 10th in its 2009 listing of the Top 50 Sportscasters of All Time…..the Pete Rozelle Award from the Pro Football Hall of Fame…..the Curt Gowdy Award from the Basketball Hall of Fame…the  Ford Frick Award from the National Baseball Hall of Fame…..and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Enberg is the only sportscaster thus far to win Emmys in three categories (broadcasting, writing, and producing)….and in 1973 became the first U.S. sportscaster to visit the People’s Republic of China.  Enberg was inducted into Central Michigan University’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 1993.  The university named an academic center for him in 2007…..while a student-athlete award in Enberg’s name is presented annually to a Central Michigan student.  Enberg was raised in Armada, Michigan and was responsible for the naming of the Armada High School yearbook, the Regit (Tiger spelled backwards), a name it has to this day. A hallway in the Macomb Academy of Arts and Sciences, which is run by Armada school district and shares the building with its administration office, was named after him.  UCLA named its Media Center in Pauley Pavilion after Enberg in 2017 in his honor.  Indiana University awarded Enberg an honorary doctorate of humane letters in 2002. He would be inducted into the Indiana University Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame in the fall of 2006.  Enberg also received honorary doctorates of humane letters from his alma mater Central Michigan University in 1980 and Marquette University in 2009, and gave the addresses at both universities’ May commencement ceremonies.                                                         

Sportscasters – 2014 – Special Phone Conversation – Dick Enberg Is Congratulated By Vin Scully After Winning the Hall Of Fame Ford Fricke Award For Excellence In Baseball Broadcasting

In 1997, the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) honored Enberg with an award in recognition of his longtime support of the organization’s Academic All-America program. The Dick Enberg Award is given annually to a person whose actions and commitment have furthered the meaning and reach of the Academic All-America Teams Program and/or the student-athlete while promoting the values of education and academics. Past recipients include Gerald Ford, Mike Krzyzewski, Pat Summitt, and Joe Paterno. Enberg continues to be an avid supporter of the program, often lending his voice to video presentations related to CoSIDA’s annual Academic All-America Hall of Fame ceremony.  In 2006, Enberg was Awarded the Ambassador Award of Excellence by the LA Sports & Entertainment Commission for his involvement in the community.  For his contributions to the Rose Bowl game and parade through the years, Enberg was inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame on December 31, 2011.  The National Baseball Hall of Fame named Enberg the 2015 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in baseball broadcasting. He was presented with the award in a ceremony during the Hall’s induction weekend on July 25, 2015.  Enberg was the second American sportscaster (after Curt Gowdy) to be selected for broadcasting awards from each of the Halls of Fame in professional football, basketball and baseball.  On August 20, 2017 the Detroit Sports Media (formerly Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association) named Enberg the 2017 recipient of the DSM Ernie Harwell Lifetime Contribution Award for a lifetime of service to the sports broadcasting community.                                                                                       

Sportscasters – 2016 – MLB San Diego Padres Special – Tribute To Dick Enberg As He Nears Retirement

It always brings a smile to thls lil ole chiweenie Sportsphile’s face when I consider just how much content of legendary sportscaster Dick Enberg that we have here at ImaSportsphile….cuz the truth be known….. the Golden Age of Televised Sports produced more “legends behind the mike” than at any other era in the history of live televised sports….as the simple truth remains, this was the heyday of live televised sports…..when the NFL went from a infant to a media giant…..and boxing had not one or two, but 4 or 5 legendary champions in every single weight class….while the NBA grew not only grew within the average height of a player to in the physical size of the players along with the popularity of the Celtics vs Lakers rivalry…. Bird vs. Magic!!!…and then came Jordan…..Ahhhhhh the Golden Age of Televised Sports…..and sportscaster extraordinaire Dick Enberg was there to make so many wonderful calls for the better part of 60 year….R.I.P. Dick Enberg…..thanks for the memories.                                                                                                

Sportscasters – 2017 -The Rich Eisen Show – Remembering Legendary Sportscaster Dick Enberg On The Day Of His Passing

 

 

2 Comments

  1. I absolutely LOVED Dick Enberg!!! I’m 71 years-old, and my fondest NFL memories are the games that were broadcast by Dick Enberg and Merlin Olsen. They were such a treat to listen to that the teams on the field were irrelevant. RIP Mr. Enberg, and know that you brought more pleasure to listeners of your broadcasts than you ever realized. I thank you for that.

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