Oh My! Michigan’s Dick Enberg Ends An Illustrious Career [Video]
Buried behind the headlines honoring L.A. Dodgers broadcasting legend Vin Scully's final game was the fact that Michigan native and CMU grad Dick Enberg also called his last game. I had the honor of sharing a broadcast booth with him once, and he was the nicest guy to a young, probably terrible, broadcaster.
Look at this list of the major sporting events Dick Enberg has described in his long career:
28 Wimbledon tennis tournaments
10 Super Bowls
8 UCLA college basketball championships
Three Summer Olympiads
Ten US Open Golf Tournaments and seven Masters Golf Tournments
Major League Baseball on NBC
NFL Football on CBS
Not bad for a kid from Armada, Michigan, who graduated from Central Michigan University in 1957. His first announcing job was on WCEN in Mount Pleasant, where for a dollar an hour, he got to call high school sports and be a weekend disc jockey, but only after he cleaned the station.
Enberg moved on to graduate school at Indiana University with the goal of being a professor of Health Education. He called play by play for the Hoosiers basketball team, and was so good, he got the opportunity to call the 1961 NCAA Basketball Championship game between Cincinnati and Ohio State on national radio.
It was while teaching and coaching baseball at Cal State Northridge in the Los Angeles area that Enberg won the job of play by play announcer for the fledging Los Angeles Angels and began his career in earnest and he honed such catch phrases as 'touch all the bases' for a home run, and, of course, the well know 'Oh My!' when the action got hot and heavy.
"It’s a common Midwestern phrase. I grew up on a farm in Michigan. My mother used it constantly, often in reference to any misbehavior, like 'Oh My, Richard, now, what have you done?'" Enberg once told a fan in the Denver Post. “Oh My!” has been a friend for over 50 years and serves a wonderful variety of uses."
That first time he traveled to Tiger Stadium to call an Angels game meant a lot to him, and his last time in Detroit brought back this story:
It all came to an end yesterday, as Enberg called his final game as the TV announcer for the San Diego Padres, a job he's had for the last seven seasons.
Enberg gave a shout-out to some of his many former broadcast partners, including Merlin Olsen, Al McGuire, Billy Packer, Don Drysdale and Tony Gwynn. He even worked a few games with Wooden, whom he called “The greatest man I’ve ever known other than my own father.”
“When you add up just those alone, you think about a kid from a farm who dreamed about wanting to be a good athlete and trying hard but falling far short,” said Enberg, who went into the broadcasters’ wing of the Hall of Fame in 2015. “But to be with the greatest in the history of the game and sit next to them and pick their brain every day, and they pay me for it and they put me in a good seat, too, behind home plate or midcourt or at the 50-yard line. It’s an incredibly privileged life and part of it is because of those who you were able to share a broadcast with.”
In a recent interview with the NY Daily News, Enberg hinted that this isn't a retirement, and that he may finally get to be a college teacher, his original career plan.
But for me, my moment with Dick Enberg came when he was in Mt. Pleasant to speak at commencement exercises at his alma mater, and I was in the boradcast booth that May afternoon, calling play by play for the student radio station WMHW-FM. Enberg stopped by the booth during the game, which was no easy feat, as back then, you had to go up a ladder to get in to it. Enberg spent some time recalling his student days at CMU, and then stayed with me and my partner that day, Jeff McCann, to call an inning, putting up with the probably awful stylings of mine with his usual class and dignity.
On his last game yesterday, he wrote and read a love letter to baseball, which included these observations:
Enberg’s letter begins: Why do I love thee … let me count the ways.
The subtle scent of the infield’s morning mow.
To marvel at (Tony) Gwynn’s mastery of an inside-out missile.
The immaculately executed ballet of a double play.
Happy Trails, Dick. I'll always remember the day you gave a young broadcaster some of your time.