On Thursday, we lost one of the most iconic and versatile sportscasters of this generation, Dick Enberg. During a 60 year career Enberg had the opportunity to call games in virtually every major sport for virtually every television network, as well as some radio networks, at both the college and professional levels. His career, like one of his famous catchphrases “touched ’em all.”
Richard Alan Enberg was born on January 9, 1935 in Mount Clemens, MI. His ancestry on his father’s side was Finnish. His grandparents, like many immigrants, had changed the family name (in this case, from Katajavuori to the Swedish equivalent, Enberg), in order to appear more American. Enberg’s mother’s family was a classic melting pot – English, French, German, and American Indian.
Enberg earned a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University and a graduate degree from Indiana University. He began his career while still a student, working for the radio station WSAM, which broadcast Detroit Tigers’ baseball games.
As I said, during his 60 year career he was extremely prolific, announcing a multitude of sports on virtually every tv network and on radio. The following are just a sampling of his work:
- Football – (a) Broadcast LA Rams football; (b) play-by-play for Indiana Hoosiers games; (c) lead announcer for NBC for NFL games; (d) called eight Super Bowls; (e)called Rose Bowl games; (f) during the 1982 NFL players’ strike called Canadian Football games;
2. Baseball –
a. Broadcast California Angels games. When they won he would sign off with the catchphrase “And the halo shines tonight,” in reference to the symbol of the team which would be lit up on the scoreboard after every victory; (b) was the voice of the San Diego Padres; (c) called several World Series;
3. Basketball – (a) play-by-play for Indiana Hoosiers; (b) 1961 NCAA championship game (only shown live in Ohio); (c) in 1968 called the “Game of the Century” between Elvin Hayes’ Houston Cougars and UCLA’s Lew Alcindor; (d) in 1979 called the NCAA Championship game between Magic Johnson’s Michigan State and Larry Bird’s Indiana State teams; (e) called NBA games for several years for NBC;
4. Boxing – (a) announcer for matches at LA’s Olympic Auditorium; (b) called various heavyweight bouts
5. Other sports he called included tennis majors, golf majors, horse racing and the Olympics.
6. He wrote a one-man play called “McGuire” as a tribute to one of his former broadcast partners, Al McGuire.
Also, Enberg was prolific on tv and in the movies. He appeared on tv shows, such as The King of Queens and CSI NY. He hosted game shows, such as Sports Challenge and The Perfect Match. He lent his voice to Where’s Huddles, a cartoon series. He appeared in several movies, such as Two-Minute Warning and Heaven Can Wait. He appeared in commercials and as the announcer in “Talking Football,” a Mattel tabletop game.
Enberg received countless honors, such as:
- 13 sports Emmys, as well as being the only sportscaster to win Emmys in broadcasting, writing and producing.
- Nine National Sportscaster of the Year awards
- The American Sportscasters Association ranked him #10 on its listing of the Top 50 Sportscasters of all time.
- Induction into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame
- A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Enberg died suddenly on December 21 of a suspected coronary. He was active to the end. In fact, he was found in his home with his bags packed, undoubtedly in preparation for an engagement.
He will be forever remembered for his iconic catchphrase in celebration of an outstanding athletic play, “OH MY.”