Hall of Fame broadcaster Enberg dies at 82

December 22nd, 2017

SAN DIEGO -- For half a century, the biggest moments in sports were often accompanied by the warm and inviting tones of Dick Enberg's voice. Enberg, who won the 2015 National Baseball Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick Award and earned equivalent honors from the football and basketball Halls of Fame, passed away on Thursday. He was 82.

"Dick Enberg was first and foremost a true gentleman, one who just happened to be among the most distinguished sports broadcasters in history," MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. "He was well-known for bringing many different sports into the homes of fans, but he had a special bond with the National Pastime. Those of us in Baseball are grateful for his impact on the Angels, the Padres, the Tigers, and his national playoff coverage. I was fortunate to get to know Dick during our 2016 All-Star Week in San Diego, where he participated in the pregame ceremony, a year after he was honored in Cooperstown.

"On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest condolences to his wife Barbara, their family, and the many admirers he earned throughout a magnificent broadcasting career."

Enberg is the only person to win an Emmy as a sports broadcaster, writer and producer, and during his ceremony in Cooperstown, he deemed the Frick Award "the culmination" of his professional life behind the microphone. Enberg concluded a career that spanned six decades with seven seasons as the play-by-play voice of the San Diego Padres from 2010-16.

"We are immensely saddened by the sudden and unexpected passing of legendary broadcaster Dick Enberg," read a statement from Padres ownership. "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. On behalf of our entire organization, we send our deepest condolences to his wife, Barbara, and the entire Enberg family."

In a 50-year career, 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. He earned 14 Emmy awards and nine Sportscaster of the Year awards. Name a major sporting event, chances are Enberg called it.

"He was the voice of my childhood in sports," said Padres color commentator Mark Grant, who worked alongside Enberg for seven seasons. "He was the voice that when you heard it on a game, it mattered. Football, Wimbledon, college basketball, Super Bowls, his resume speaks for itself.

"It was an honor to sit next to him for seven years. Here I am as a little kid, 8 years old, watching UCLA basketball games with my dad in the basement of our house, and Dick Enberg is doing the game. Fast forward in my career, and all of a sudden, I'm sitting next to him, talking about Padres baseball. It's surreal. You find out that people who you admire are regular people, too. They have passions about certain things. They have good hearts. It's sad, it really is. I honestly thought Dick was going to be a guy who was going to live to like 105."

Baseball, Enberg constantly reiterated, was always his first love. He served as a teacher and baseball coach at San Fernando Valley State College from 1962-65. It was there that he developed his two signature catchphrases: "Oh, my!" and "Touch 'em all!"

Enberg called his first Major League Baseball game in 1969 and spent time on Angels and national broadcasts for parts of the next two decades. He called his 2015 ceremony in Cooperstown "the greatest weekend of my life."

"I've loved this game as far back as I can remember, being teethed on a baseball bat," said Enberg upon the announcement that he'd be honored in Cooperstown. "To have this, and my love for a sport, it's too good to be true, especially in light of those who are so qualified to earn this Ford C. Frick Award."

Enberg's colleagues from around the broadcasting world immediately took to social media to convey their sadness of his passing, while also celebrating one of the most beloved members of the industry.

Born and raised in Michigan, Enberg earned his bachelor's degree at Central Michigan University and got his first experience broadcasting college athletics at Indiana University. He began a full-time broadcasting career at KTLA in Los Angeles, serving as a voice for UCLA basketball, Los Angeles Rams football and California Angels baseball games. He gained fame calling the dominant Bruins basketball teams of the 1970s, and also called the famous 1979 NCAA championship game featuring Indiana State's Larry Bird and Michigan State's Magic Johnson.

Enberg joined NBC Sports in 1975, when he got his first experience calling MLB postseason contests. The Angels hired him back to broadcast for the team in 1985 before he went on to be a national voice once again for CBS Sports. Throughout his career, Enberg called nine no-hitters, noting upon his retirement, "There's no drama like that in any other sport."

Enberg regularly recounted the story of how he received his first job in the business. In his early 20s, he walked into a Mount Pleasant, Mich., radio station in search of a custodial job. Instead, he was given work as a weekend disc jockey and local sports show host.

"What if I had been given the job I wanted?" Enberg often quipped, with a wry grin.

Instead, more than half a century later, Enberg has passed away as an icon in the sports world, one of the most fabled and soothing voices the industry has ever known.