Broadcaster Dick Enberg passed away unexpectedly last night at the age of 82.
Enberg, whose career spanned six decades, was perhaps best known for his time as NBC’s top NFL play-by-play man, alongside Merlin Olsen in the 1970s and 1980s. He was not limited to football, however. Indeed, he was one of the most versatile broadcasters in the history of the medium, handling virtually every sport over his award-winning career. He called 42 NFL seasons, 28 Wimbledon tennis tournaments, 15 NCAA basketball title games, 10 Super Bowls, nine Rose Bowls and the 1982 World Series. He earned 14 Emmy awards and nine Sportscaster of the Year awards. His career culminated when he was given the Ford C. Frick Award by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, speaking on induction weekend in Cooperstown in July of 2015.
While Enberg called so many sports, back when he was selected for the Frick Award in December 2014, he spoke about baseball being his first love, having begun broadcasting games while at Central Michigan University in the 1950s. From there it was on to Indiana and eventually on to teach and coach baseball at San Fernando Valley State College, which is now known as Cal-State Northridge. In the 1960s he began broadcasting in Los Angeles, eventually becoming the play-by-play man for the California Angels.
Enberg left the Angels booth in the 1970s and spent 25 years as a multi-sport specialist for NBC. From there he went on to CBS and then ESPN. In 2009 he came back to baseball on a full time basis, calling games for the San Diego Padres until his retirement after the 2016 season. Recently he had gotten into podcasting. Just last week he publicly congratulated his former colleague, Bob Costas, upon Costas’ selection as a Frick winner, telling him in a tweet, “welcome to the club.”
Enberg’s voice was a warm one. Unlike many play-by-play men, he seemed more interested on you enjoying yourself than in making sure he was describing every minute detail, even though he never left out anything that mattered. He knew you had eyes and were watching it on television, so why clutter up your experiences with unnecessary verbiage? When you heard his voice on a broadcast, you knew it was a big game or else he wouldn’t be the one calling it. Yet when he called a game, you felt at ease, knowing that however good the game turned out to be, the experience would be an enjoyable one.
He’ll be missed.