Legendary sports broadcaster Dick Enberg passed away last Thursday at the age of 82 in his La Jolla home, and the outpouring of support he received shows just how much of an impact he had on people’s lives and the lasting legacy he leaves cannot be questioned.
Enberg called NFL games for 42 years, plus 28 Wimbledons, 23 French Opens, 14 NCAA men’s basketball championships, 10 Super Bowls, nine Rose Bowls, four Olympic Games and plenty of other events for CBS, ESPN and NBC in one of the most incredible careers a broadcaster has ever had. If you aspire to be like Dick Enberg, you’re shooting for the stars as a broadcaster.
It should come as no surprise, then, to see how many people revered Enberg, someone who will be remembered for his calling of games forever.
“With all due respect to other great announcers in the ‘70s and ‘80s, if you were to have a decathlon of play-by-play, he would have won that decathlon of play-by-play because he did so many things exquisitely well,” said Bob Costas. “He did seven or eight things really, really well, and was at or near the top of all those things. And he did with the combination of extraordinary craftsmanship, meticulous preparation, facility with words and a genuine—not a manufactured, but a genuine—boyish enthusiasm. He was a sentimental man but there was nothing inauthentic about that enthusiasm.”
“Met Dick Enberg in his Angels’ booth as a 12 y-o dreamer & wannabe. I’ve learned from & admired his unmatched class & grace ever since… was immensely proud to call him an ESPN tennis colleague. Such sad news this morning. I’ll miss him deeply, especially while at Wimbledon” — Chris Fowler
“I first met Dick Enberg when I was in college, and had the honor and privilege of knowing him ever since. I grew up listening to Dick in Los Angeles, and had the great honor of working with him. He was the best of the best in every way. RIP Dick Enberg.” — Jay Bilas
“Oh, my. What a loss. Often as we overuse “legend” in sports syntax, Dr. Dick Enberg qualifies….” — Jon Wertheim
“Saddened to learn of the passing of Dick Enberg. I got to know Dick through our work for the @CoSIDAAcadAA Hall of Fame . He was a gentleman, master storyteller, passionate about education&service. A better person than broadcaster & he’s a legend as a broadcaster. Prayers up.” — Rece Davis
“RIP Dick Enberg. Incredibly kind and welcoming. Generous with his time and experience. Thinking of the jokes and laughs he’d share with @CliffDrysdale … what a sincerely lovely man. Thoughts are with his family.” #OhMy — Chris McKendry
“For my age group there simply wasn’t a bigger, big game national voice than Dick Enberg. Mystical at Wimbledon with Bud Collins, big NFL voice with genteel Olsen, College hoop mediator with Packer/McGuire and more. Joyful delivery/love of sport like no other.” #OhMy #RIP — John Buccigross
“Dick Enberg, as good as it gets. He cared about the game and the viewers. He elevated his partners. A perfect fit calling any sport .. and even better guy when you got to meet him. I will cherish our chats in Queens, Northern Michigan and at Wimbledon. Prayers to his family.” – Mike Tirico
“Dick Enberg is on the Mt Rushmore of Sports Broadcasters. An absolute legend. He did it all and he did it with joy. Enberg was the only person to win Emmy Awards as a sportscaster, a writer and a producer.” — Kevin Negandhi
“So saddened to hear the news of the passing of the legendary Dick Enberg. Had the pleasure to work with and interview him. A genius and genial storyteller of the best variety.” — Rich Eisen
“Amazing thing about Dick Enberg is he prompts different memories depending on when/where you grew up. My first thought is of Wimbledon” — J.A. Adande
“Dick Enberg was the maestro of the greatest college basketball broadcast team ever assembled with Billy Packer and Al McGuire on NBC. They were entertaining, informative and simply a joy to listen to and to watch. RIP Dick. You will be missed.” — Bruce Beck
“1 way I fell in love with sports was as a boy watching Sports Challenge hosted by Dick Enberg, then I knew it was a big game late Sunday afternoon when I heard Enberg and Merlin Olsen. #RIP” — Joel Sherman
“Heartbroken over the passing of Dick Enberg. I grew up listening & wishing he’d one day call my Wimbledon match & instead the dream played out a bit different—I was blessed & honored to work alongside the legend. A one of a kind talent w/the biggest [heart] #ohmy will you be missed.” — Kelly Crull
“Kindest, most proactive possible treatment of newcomers in this business, for the length of his career. What a terrible loss.” — Keith Olbermann
“First met Dick Enberg ’96 @NBCOlympics. NBC had a rooftop lounge at our hotel. I nervously introduced myself. He invited me to join him for breakfast. He immediately became a mentor to me. Always enjoyed when our paths’ crossed. He was a true gentleman and a great broadcaster.” — Bob Papa
As you can see, fellow broadcasters, most of whom have had their own long and excellent career in broadcasting, were deeply hurt by the loss of Enberg and had to offer their support on Twitter. It was the least they could do for a man who paved the way.
Often times behind someone as legendary as Enberg is an unwavering work ethic, and such was the case for Dick.
“The preparation [for a broadcast] always was never work,” Enberg said. “I wanted to take the time to try to find some nugget or some piece of information or turn some phrase that might make the broadcast more interesting. The interest in a variety of sports comes back to when I was a kid. I memorized the sports page. The guys at the fraternity house would say if you want to read the sports page, you better get up earlier than Enberg.”
He loved everything he did. Towards the end of his career he took the job of calling San Diego Padres games, which is where he lived. The following tribute to Padres great Tony Gwynn after he passed away will tell you everything you need to know about Dick Enberg.
RIP to a legend.