What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
Suffice it to say that a guy like me who has been producing an independent sports blog for over eight years might just be a hard-core sports fan. It would also be a safe bet to say there were certain figures who loomed large in the development of that fandom. After Dick Enberg’s passing yesterday, media of all forms is full of the usual flower-filled obituaries and career retrospectives. That’s not what this is. Rather, this is a narrative about why Dick Enberg’s voice in many ways is the soundtrack to my childhood, which in turn means as insignificant as it may be in the grander scheme, this very blog might be part of his legacy.
I came from divorced parents, which meant for a host of reasons I spent a lot of time as an original “latch-key” kid. That also meant that sports became a constant companion for me. Since large parts of the aforementioned childhood were spent in southern California, there was lot of Dick Enberg in my life.
The current radio voice of the Los Angeles Lakers John Ireland said it best:
“If there was a Mount Rushmore of L.A. 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.”
That’s it in a nutshell. In my youth, Chick Hearn was the voice of the Lakers. Bob Miller brought me Kings hockey. Obviously, hearing Vin Scully’s voice meant it was time for Dodger baseball. But Dick Enberg brought nearly everything else.
If you were a sports fan in southern California in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, Enberg was everywhere. He was on KMPC as the voice of the California Angels and the Los Angeles Rams. He was on KTLA anchoring a nightly sports highlight show and calling UCLA Bruins basketball. He even covered the Friday night fights from the Olympic Coliseum. That made Enberg’s voice as much of a constant as the North Star, and if you were a 10-year old kid making his own dinner on another night home alone, that was huge.
It didn’t stop there. Enberg also played a huge role in my becoming a “nerd-level” sports historian. KTLA also had a sports-based game show which ran throughout the 1970’s called Sports Challenge. It featured two teams competing in a trivia contest moderated by Enberg. The best part was the teams were all big-time names from the world of sports. In other words, if you were becoming a sports geek at this time, there was nothing better than a sports trivia show featuring three guys from the 1963 New York Giants heads-up against a trio of 1961 Chicago Blackhawks.
Even in times away from southern California, there was always a way get an Enberg fix. He covered everything from Major League Baseball, NCAA Final Four basketball, the NFL, and the Olympics. He even showed up in movies like “The Naked Gun” and “Heaven Can Wait.”
Let’s be honest. This guy had the talent to be arguably the greatest sportscaster ever, a television personality on top of that, and showed up on the silver screen. That’s why he won 13 Sports Emmy Awards, a Lifetime Achievement Emmy, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and UCLA just named its Media Center in Pauley Pavilion after him.
But most importantly, this blog might not even exist if it weren’t for Dick Enberg.