He called them all, but Enberg’s love was baseball

Written by: Katherine Acquavella

Dick Enberg’s talent propelled him into the national spotlight, but it was his remarkable enthusiasm that captured the hearts of fans around the country.

Enberg, 82, died Thursday, Dec. 21, of an apparent heart attack. Enberg, who won the Hall of Fame’s Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters in 2015, established himself as one of the sports world’s top play-by-play announcers, with his signature “Oh, my!” call recognized around the world.

Along with baseball, Enberg also covered football, tennis, basketball and golf. But it was the National Pastime that captured Enberg’s heart.

Dick Enberg's career in broadcasting spanned six decades and included 14 Emmy Awards and the Hall of Fame's 2015 Ford C. Frick Award. (By Photographer Milo Stewart Jr./National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)

Born Jan. 9, 1935, in the Detroit suburb of Mount Clemens, Mich., Enberg grew up in nearby Armada, Mich. After graduating from Central Michigan University in 1957, he earned a master’s degree and a doctorate from Indiana University where he also taught health education classes before moving on to teach at San Fernando Valley State College – now known as Cal State Northridge.

Enberg began his broadcasting career while an undergraduate at Central Michigan. He later broadcast both football and basketball games at Indiana. By 1968, he was calling California Angels games, a position he held until 1978. He also called games of the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams and UCLA men’s basketball team, calling nine seasons of Bruins basketball – eight of which resulted in national championships for UCLA.

Dick Enberg sits alongside fellow Ford C. Frick Award recipient Vin Scully (left) before a Padres vs. Dodgers game in San Diego. (Chris Hardy/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Enberg joined NBC Sports in 1975, remaining with the network for 25 years while working assignments that included the MLB Postseason as well as Wimbledon, college football and the NFL.

When Enberg joined CBS in 2000, he expanded his coverage to a variety of other sports. But baseball remained his true passion.

Along with baseball, 2015 Frick Award winner Dick Enberg also covered football, tennis, basketball and golf. (Andy Hayt/San Diego Padres)

“I’ve loved this game as far back as I can remember, being teethed on a baseball bat,” Enberg said. “The investment that I have in this game of baseball going back to being a young boy is more than any other sport.”

Enberg called the memorable 1982 World Series featuring the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers and later returned to the Angels broadcast booth in 1985 to broadcast 40 games during the franchise’s 25th anniversary season. Enberg joined the San Diego Padres as their television play-by-play voice in 2010, a position he held for seven years.

“The poetry of this game, there is so much more that gets deeply into the soul of me than the other sports,” Enberg said. “Baseball has its own wonderful slow pace that allows you to really absorb its beauty.”

The 14-time Emmy Award winner talked about the origins of his love of the National Pastime while participating in a Voices of the Game event at the Hall of Fame in August 2007.

“When I was 4, my grandfather owned a small grocery store in Mount Clemens, Mich., where I was born,” Enberg said. “I can remember him saying, ‘Dickie, come in here. If you can answer this baseball question, you can pick out some Superman bubble gum.’ I would study by baseball because I knew grandpa would give me some free bubble gum.”

In 2015, Enberg was the recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually for excellence in broadcasting by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. He was the 39th winner of the Frick Award.

Katherine Acquavella is a freelance writer from New York City