Community Sports

Tuesday, Oct 29 2013 11:23 PM

Sportscaster Enberg shares colorful career

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    By FILE--Dick Enberg, shown in a recent but undated file photo, the longtime NBC broadcaster and one of the signature voices in sports, is set to leave the network at the end of the year and join CBS. An industry source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press on Monday an announcement is expected in January after Enberg's contract expires.. (AP Photo/HO)

    FILE--Dick Enberg, shown in a recent but undated file photo, the longtime NBC broadcaster and one of the signature voices in sports, is set to leave the network at the end of the year and join CBS. An industry source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press on Monday an announcement is expected in January after Enberg's contract expires.. (AP Photo/HO)

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BY STEPHEN LYNCH Special to The Californian

Over the past half century, legendary sports broadcaster Dick Enberg has called some of the biggest and most memorable sporting events ever.

Super Bowls, Olympics, the U.S. Open Tennis Championships, the Masters and the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship are just a few of the major assignments he's broadcasted since starting his career in 1957.

Tuesday, speaking at the Bakersfield Jam Season Kickoff Fundraiser at the Dignity Health Event Center, he shared some stories.

There was the time early in his career when he was unwittingly sitting on his microphone while trying to do a California Angels post-game show.

A chuckling Enberg, 78, also recalled the night of July 15, 1973 when he was doing an Angels game and Norm Cash of the Detroit Tigers brought a table leg up to the plate instead of a bat to try and break up Nolan Ryan's no-hitter.

That Ryan no-hitter was one of seven called by Enberg. This year, working for the San Diego Padres, Enberg did the TV broadcast of the no-hitter by Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum.

A Michigan native, Enberg earned a bachelor's degree from Central Michigan University. He went on to graduate school at the Indiana, where he acquired master's and doctorate degrees in health science.

Enberg's sports broadcasting career took off at Indiana.

He served as play-by-play announcer for the Hoosiers football and men's basketball teams from 1957-1961.

During that time he began using his signature catchphrase, "Oh, My!"

After working as assistant professor and baseball coach at Cal State Northridge from 1961-1965, Enberg went to work for a television station in Los Angeles calling UCLA men's basketball games and a radio station doing Rams and Angels games.

Enberg's timing couldn't have been any better when it came to the UCLA gig. It was during the height of the John Wooden era and the Bruins won eight NCAA titles during Enberg's nine years announcing their games.

"He's the greatest person I've ever known other than my own father," Enberg said of Wooden. "He stands alone as a man of greatest and of goodness."

In 1968 Enberg called the "Game of the Century" between the University of Houston and UCLA basketball teams. The historic game in which the Bruins lost, ending a 47-game winning streak in front of a record crowd 52,693 of at the Houston Astrodome

According to Enberg it's still the most important game that he's ever called.

Enberg later went on to host several game shows before really hitting it big when he signed on with NBC Sports in 1975. He worked the next 25 years for the "Peacock Network" covering the NFL, MLB, NBA, college football, college basketball, golf, tennis, and the Olympics.

Enberg's broadcast partner for college basketball at NBC was Al Maguire, who before becoming a TV color commentator coached Marquette to the 1977 NCAA title.

"He's the most unforgettable character that I've ever met," Enberg said.

After parting ways with NBC, Enberg worked for CBS and ESPN for more than a decade.

Currently he calls 110-120 San Diego Padres games a year.

Tuesday night's event, emceed by Vance Palm, was put on by the Jam for its season ticket holders, Jam business partners and other business associates of the Jam ownership group.

"It's a way of saying thanks to customers for their business support throughout the year," Jam Owner, Managing Partner David Higdon said.

Proceeds from the event go to support the Bakersfield Jam Education Foundation, which focuses on providing educational opportunities for middle school students in the Standard School District.

It's a cause that, Enberg, a former teacher, supports wholeheartedly.

Enberg admitted that he's never spent much time in Bakersfield.

"The one memory I have of Bakersfield when I was coaching at (what was then called) San Fernando Valley State College we had made a trip to San Francisco to play San Francisco State and we were coming back through the valley and we stopped in Bakersfield," Enberg said. "Someone on the team had a portable radio and it was the night (May 5, 1962) Bo Belinsky pitched a no-hitter for the Los Angeles Angels. We were in the parking lot of some restaurant in Bakersfield listening to (the game)."

"(Growing Up) I wanted to be the athlete not the man that talked about the players and athletes. But my friends from high school and college remind me often, they say you always thought you were a good athlete but you only talked a good game so it all worked out rather well...Over the last 50 years I've been able to rub shoulders with a lot of greatness. I've been very fortunate. I've lived a blessed life. I'm still living out the dream."

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