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Dick Enberg
Dick enberg2.jpg
Name: Richard Alan Enberg
Born: January 9, 1935
Birth Hometown: Mount Clemens, Michigan, U.S.
Died: December 21, 2017 (aged 82)
Place of death: La Jolla, California, U.S.
Occupation: sportscaster

Richard Alan Enberg or Dick Enberg (born January 9, 1935; died December 21, 2017) was an American sportscaster. He provided play-by-play for telecasts of San Diego Padres baseball on Fox Sports San Diego, following a long career calling various sports for such networks as NBC, CBS and ESPN. Enberg was well known for his signature catchphrases ("Touch 'em all") and ("Oh, My!") that he used after exciting and outstanding athletic plays. He also announced and hosted the Tournament of Roses Parade for many years, sometimes with the help of family members. Enberg retired from broadcasting in 2016.

Early Life and Education[]

Enberg was born in Mount Clemens, Michigan. Following high school in nearby Armada, he played college baseball and earned a bachelor's degree in 1957 at Central Michigan University. Enberg then went on to graduate school at Indiana University, where he earned master's and doctorate degree in health sciences. While at Indiana, Enberg voiced the first radio broadcast of the Little 500, the bicycle racing event popularized in the film Breaking Away. He was also the play-by-play announcer for Indiana Hoosiers football and basketball games, and in 1961 called his first NCAA basketball tournament event, the championship game between Cincinnati and Ohio State. From 1961 to 1965 he was an assistant professor and baseball coach at Cal State Northridge, then known as San Fernando Valley State College.

Dick Enberg was also a member of the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity.

Early Career[]

In the late 1960s, Enberg began a full-time sportscasting career in Los Angeles, working for KTLA television (anchoring a nightly sports report and calling UCLA Bruins basketball) and KMPC radio (calling Los Angeles Rams football and California Angeles baseball). After every Angels victory, he would wrap up his broadcast, "And the halo shines tonight." This referenced 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 stadium-adjacent freeway. Enberg was named California Sportscaster of the Year four times.

In the 1960s, Enberg announced boxing matches at L.A.'s Olympic Auditorium.

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 and the UCLA Bruins. Enberg continued to call the occasional UCLA game for TVS through the early 1970s, usually teaming up with Rod Hundley.

In the 1970s, Enberg hosted the syndicated game show Sports Challenge, and co-produced the Emmy Award-winning, sports-history series The Way It Was for PBS.

Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head[]

In the 1970 opening conference game in Pauley Pavilion, Oregon went into a stall against the UCLA Bruins. Enberg had run out of statistics and began to fill his radio broadcasting with small talk. The 1969 movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid had just been released, and Enberg was humming to the tune "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head" by B.J. Thomas, but did not know the words. Two nights later, at the Oregon State game, many students brought the lyrics to the song. Enberg promised that he would sing the song if UCLA won the conference championship. 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.

NBC[]

In 1973, Enberg hosted the short-lived game show Baffle (and much later as All-Star Baffle), which only lasted a year before being cancelled in 1974. A year later, producer Monty Hall hired Enberg to host the even much shorter-lived 3 for the Money which was cancelled in 1975.

Also in 1975, Enberg joined NBC Sports. For the next 25 years, he broadcast a plethora of sports and events for NBC, including the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the U.S. Open golf championship, college football, college basketball, the Wimbledon and French Open tennis tournaments, heavyweight boxing, 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 would pick up the network's telecast of the Rose Bowl Game in 1980. He would be in the booth in Pasadena every year until ABC picked up the broadcast in 1988.

The NFL on NBC[]

While on The NFL on NBC, Enberg called eight Super Bowls (alongside the likes of Merlin Olsen, Bob Trumpy, Phil Simms and Paul Maguire) the last being Super Bowl XXXII in January 1998. Enberg also anchored NBC's coverage of Super Bowl XIII (that particular game was called by Curt Gowdy) in 1979. He also called three Canadian Football League games in 1982 during the NFL strike.

Major League Baseball on NBC[]

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 (where he shared play-by-play duties with Joe Garagiola alongside 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 Vin Scully was in negotiations to be their lead baseball play-by-play man (teaming up with Joe Garigiola while Tony Kubek would team up with Bob Costas) and would begin with the network in the spring of 1983. Therefore, rather than throw him in randomly for one World Series, Enberg wrote that he hosted the pre-game/postgame shows while the team of Garigola and Kubek did the games.

According to the book, Enberg wasn't pleased about the decision (since he loved being the California Angels' radio and television voice in the 1970s 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, citing a desire to reconnect with the sport.

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 the opportunity to call any games.

Wimbledon Championships[]

As NBC's voice of the Wimbledon tennis Championships, the last tournament for him being in 1999, (alongside Bud Collins and, later, John McEnroe), Enberg regularly concluded the network's coverage of the two-week event with thematically appropriate observations accompained by a montage of video clips.

CBS[]

Enberg was hired by CBS Sports in 2000, serving as a play-by-play announcer for the network's NFL, college baseketball and US Open tennis coverage. For several years he also contributed to CBS' coverage of The Masters and PGA Championship golf.

Another enduring element of Enberg's broadcasting legacy is his ability to provide warm and poignant reflections on the sporting events he covers. “Enberg Essays”, as they came to be known, were a regular feature of CBS' 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 Virginia Moutaineers. 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. He continued to call the US Open for CBS through 2011.

2009 US Open Controversy[]

On September 14, 2009, Juan Martin del Potro upset Roger Federer to win the Men's US Open Championship. Enberg hosted the post-match ceremony during which del Potro requested to address his fans in Spanish. Enberg declined the request saying that he was running out of time but went on to list the corporate prizes del Potro won. A couple of minutes later, del Potro made the same request again and only then Enberg relented saying, "Very quickly, in Spanish, he wants to say hello to his friends here in Argentina." 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.

ESPN[]

Beginning in 2004, Enberg served as a play-by-play announcer for ESPN2's coverage of the Wimbledon and French Open tennis tournaments, adding the Australian Open the following year. Enberg came to ESPN on a lease from CBS, where he calls 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". At Wimbledon in 2004, Enberg participated in a new one-hour morning show called Breakfast at Wimbledon. ESPN asks 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." Enberg stopped calling the French Open in 2009 due to his Padres commitments, though he continued to call the Wimbledon and Australian Open tournaments over the next two years. In June 2011, it was reported that Enberg's ESPN contract had ended and that the 2011 Wimbledon tournament would be his final one for the network.

San Diego Padres[]

In December 2009, Enberg was hired as a television play-by-play announcer for the San Diego Padres, signing a multi-year deal to call 110-120 games a season for channel 4SD. Enberg teams up with Mark Grant and (occasionally) Tony Gwynn on the Padres' telecast.

In his debut season as a Padres broadcaster, Enberg took some criticism from fans over a preceived lack of enthusiasm for the home team. Told that he was regarded as getting "too excited" over plays by opposing players, 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 home run hits by Padres players.

In 2012, Enberg returned as play-by-play voice of the Padres as 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.

Other Appearances[]

In 2006 and 2007, Enberg called Thursday night and postseason NFL games for Westwood One radio. Also in 2006, he began narrating a documentary-style television series for Fox Sports Net called In Focus on FSN.

In addition to his career in sports broadcasting, Enberg hosted three game shows besides the aforementioned Sports Challenge (originally in syndication 1971-1979 and on CBS in 1973), The Perfect Match (in 1967), (All-Star) Baffle (on NBC, 1973-1974), and 3 for the Money (also on NBC in 1975). Enberg also lent his vocal talents to the CBS animated series Where's Huddles?, the film Rollerball, and the American-dubbed version of the UK Christmas special Robbie the Reindeer: Hooves of Fire in 2002. Enberg had also made appearances in the films: Two-minute Warning, Gus, Heaven Can Wait, The Longshot, The Naked Gun, and Mr. 3000. He appeared as himself in episodes of such television series for CBS such as The King of Queens and CSI:NY. In addition, Enberg was seen in commercials for GTE during the 1980s and 1990s, and was the voice of the announcer in the classic Talking Football tabletop game from Mattel Electronics.

Honors[]

Enberg has garnered many awards and honors over the years, including thirteen Sports Emmy Awards (as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award), nine National Sportscaster of the Year awards from the National Sportcasters and Sportswriters Association (and induction into that organization's Hall of Fame), five Sportscaster of the Year awards from the American Sportscasters Association, the Pete Rozelle Award from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Curt Gowdy Award from the Basketball Hall of Fame and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Enberg is the only sportscaster thus far to win Emmys in three catergories (broadcasting, writing and producing) in 1973 as 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. Prior to this, the university named an academic center for him in 2007.

Enberg was raised in Armada, Michigan and was responsible for the naming of the Armada High School yearbook, the Regit (Tiger spelled backward), 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.

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 an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Marquette University in 2009, and gave the address at the university's May 2009 commencement ceremony.

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-American program. The Dick Enberg Award is given annually to a person whose actions and commitment have furthered the meaning of the Academic All-America Teams Program and/or the student-athlete while promoting the values of education and academics. Enberg continues to be an avid supporter of the program, often lending his voice to video presentations related to CoSIDA's annual Academic All-American 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.

Personal Life[]

Dick Enberg's surname was of Swedish origin. While starting out at KTLA-TV, Enberg was pressured into changing his name professionally to "Dick Breen" out of fear that "Enberg" would be seen too ethnic sounding (i.e. Jewish).

During an ESPN television broadcast from the Wimbledon tennis championship on June 24, 2010, Enberg said that his father was born in Finland, and changed his name from the Finnish "Katajavuon" to the Swedish equivalent Enberg on arrival in the U.S. as he felt it would be a more simple name. The surname means "juniper mountain". Enberg said it pleased him that Jarkko Nieminsen was doing so well as Finland is close to his heartland. It is a small nation with few tennis facilities. The story of his surname is also detailed in his autobiography Oh, My!

Enberg was the father of actor Alexander Enberg and musician Andrew Enberg by former wife Jeri Taylor. Enberg is was married to Barbara Hedbring and they have one son, Ted Enberg, and two daughters, Nicole and Emily Enberg.

Enberg penned a one-man theatrical play entitled COACH, as a tribute to his former television broadcast partner and late friend Al McGuire, the extraordinary college basketball coach and commentator. It debuted at Marquette University's Helfaer Theater in 2005. It drew positive reviews as an accurate portrayal of the eccentric coach. At the 2007 NCAA Final Four in Atlanta, Enberg presented three performances of COACH at the Alliances Theater. It has since been booked in San Diego, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago, Portland, Maine, North Carolina and Indiana. The most recent performance was at the New York Athletic Club in Manhattan. Actor Cotter Smith portrays McGuire in the one-man show.

Enberg was a Board Member for the Lott IMPACT Trophy, which is named after Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive back Ronnie Lott, and is given annually to college football's Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year.

Death[]

Enberg died from a heart attack on December 21, 2017 in La Jolla, California at the age of 82.

Shows Hosted[]

The Perfect Match
Sports Challenge
Battle of the Budgets (unsold pilot)
(All-Star) Baffle
3 for the Money

Links[]

CBS Sports Biography: Dick Enberg
Academic center named for Enberg

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