Celebration of life held for Dick Enberg

Published 1:36 am Sunday, March 11, 2018

By Bernie Wilson

AP Sports Writer

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Screenwriter Bobby Herbeck was watching the Golf Channel recently when some highlights from some late 1990s broadcasts came on, including a few punctuated by the trademark catchphrase of his pal Dick Enberg — “Oh, my!”

“He’s not gone. He’s still here,” Herbeck told the crowd at a celebration of life service Saturday for Enberg, who died of a heart attack on Dec. 21 at 82. “That’s the beauty of this. Olympics, baseball, Super Bowls, you name it, he did it.”

Enberg was fondly remembered by former broadcasting partners, athletes and friends on a drizzly morning at Petco Park, the downtown home of the San Diego Padres. Enberg spent the last seven years of his long, decorated career as the TV voice of the Padres from 2010-16.

“He was a true sports icon,” Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler said from the stage near second base. “My view of Dick was he was truly a man for all seasons, figuratively and literally. He did all sports. Dick was known as a world-class sports broadcaster. He was in a class by himself. I followed him all the time. I didn’t care what he was doing.”

After retiring from broadcasting, Enberg was doing a podcast and wrote a book about Ted Williams.

“He was at peace with his life,” Fowler said. “He had redefined his career and he went out almost on his own terms.”

The two prevalent themes were baseball, which was Enberg’s first love, and his fondness for summing up big moments with his call of “Oh, my!”

Enberg was the voice of UCLA basketball for nine seasons, a span in which the Bruins won eight of their 10 national titles under John Wooden.

San Diego native Bill Walton said in a video tribute that Enberg’s broadcasts were critical in him wanting to go to UCLA.

“Dick created this remarkable atmosphere,” Walton said. “When the game was over we would go into a shower room to get cleaned up and we’d talk about the game, ‘Hey, how many “Oh mys” do you think we got from Dick tonight?’”

Also appearing in video tributes were former tennis stars John McEnroe, Jim Courier and Pete Sampras.

Among the speakers were Billy Packer, one of Enberg’s former college basketball broadcast partners; and Ann Meyers Drysdale, whose late husband, Dodgers pitcher Don Drysdale, broadcast Angels games with Enberg. Don Drysdale nicknamed Enberg “The Professor” because he had been an assistant professor and baseball coach at what would become Cal State Northridge.

NFL Hall of Famer Dan Fouts said he first met Enberg when the broadcaster asked if they could get together to talk about the next day’s game, when Fouts’ San Diego Chargers played the Raiders. Fouts said Enberg knew his father, Bob Fouts, had been a broadcaster with the San Francisco 49ers and asked if he had any aspirations of becoming a broadcaster.

Fouts joked that the next day, as he was being pummeled by Howie Long and Lyle Alzado, he glanced up into the broadcast booth and spotted Merlin Olsen and Enberg, with his trademark red pocket square. “I said to myself, ‘That looks like a good gig,’” Fouts said.

Fouts later became Enberg’s last NFL broadcast partner. He said he was with Enberg at an NFL game when Enberg told him he was taking the job with the Padres.

“He was called ‘The Professor’ for a reason,” Fouts said. “He never made a mistake broadcasting a game, right? There was this one time ‘The Professor’ needed some help.”

A clip was played of Enberg mangling Brandon Manumaleuna’s name to the point that Fouts chimed in, “I’ll take it from here, Dick. … Every vowel is pronounced.”

“This celebration could go on for days because there were so many people Dick touched in the broadcast booth, in education, just about everywhere,” Fouts said. “He had an amazing career because of his amazing talent, dedication and passion. His willingness to tackle any assignment, his graciousness, kindness, intelligence and pure class set him apart from all others.

“It was my honor and pleasure to call Dick Enberg my mentor, partner and friend.”