Dick Enberg, a legendary sports broadcaster who worked on hundreds of sporting events from the Super Bowl to the Olympics, was found dead Thursday at his Southern California home.
Enberg’s daughter, Nicole, told the Associated Press that her family became concerned when he didn’t arrive on his flight to Boston earlier Thursday. He was found dead at his home in La Jolla, a San Diego neighborhood, with his bags packed.
The family said it believes he may have died of a heart attack, but were still awaiting official word.
Enberg’s career spanned 60 years in which he got to call games for UCLA basketball, Super Bowls, Olympics, Final Fours and several Major League Baseball games. He retired in 2016 after calling games for the San Diego Padres for seven years.
He was known for his countless calls of “Oh my!” for amazing plays and “touch ‘em all” for home runs.
Enberg got his foot in the door as a radio station custodian in Mount Pleasant, Mich. When he was a junior at Central Michigan. He made $1 hour. The owner of the station also gave him weekend sports and disc jockey gigs, also at $1 an hour. From there he began doing high school and college football games.
During his nine years broadcasting UCLA basketball, the Bruins won eight NCAA titles. Enberg broadcast nine no-hitters, including two by San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum against the Padres in 2013 and 2014.
He said the most historically important event he covered was “The Game of the Century,” Houston’s victory over UCLA in 1968 that snapped the Bruins’ 47-game winning streak.
“That was the platform from which college basketball’s popularity was sent into the stratosphere,” Enberg said. “The `79 game, the Magic-Bird game, everyone wants to credit that as the greatest game of all time That was just the booster rocket that sent it even higher. … UCLA, unbeaten; Houston, unbeaten. And then the thing that had to happen, and Coach Wooden hated when I said this, but UCLA had to lose. That became a monumental event.”
Enberg’s many former broadcast partners included 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.” Enberg called Padres games for seven seasons and went into the broadcasters’ wing of the Hall of Fame in 2015.
John Ireland, the radio voice of the Los Angeles Lakers, tweeted that “If there was a Mount Rushmore of LA Sports Announcers, Dick Enberg is on it with Chick Hearn, Vin Scully and Bob Miller. Rams, Angels, UCLA, NBC, and so much more. Was the first famous announcer I ever met, and he couldn’t have been nicer. Definition of a gentleman.”
If there was a Mount Rushmore of LA Sports Announcers, Dick Enberg is on it with Chick Hearn, Vin Scully and Bob Miller. Rams, Angels, UCLA, NBC, and so much more. Was the first famous announcer I ever met, and he couldn’t have been nicer. Definition of a gentleman. RIP.
— John Ireland (@LAIreland) December 22, 2017
Enberg won 13 Sports Emmy Awards and a Lifetime Achievement Emmy. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and UCLA named its Media Center in Pauley Pavilion after Enberg this year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.