Before he leaves today for Cooperstown, Dick Enberg, who will be honored with the Ford C. Frick Award and going into the broadcasters’ wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame on Saturday night, responded to a column we did on him Sunday that explains some of his baseball roots:
“Thanks for the salute to Stan Charnofsky. They should name the baseball stadium after him. … Getting nervous. Off to Cooperstown on Thursday. Can’t wait to rub shoulders with the greatest in the game … Biggest challenge is giving a decent acceptance speech, while thanking so many who helped me get there, enough to consume the allowed ten minutes.”
More memories of how Enberg impacted the career of others are coming in as well, in spurts of 10 minutes of more on the computer.
The best of them so far has been from Paul Olden, the current New York Yankees public address announcer who ended up following Enberg’s career path in one form or another on the Angels, Rams and UCLA during his days in L.A., out of Dorsey High and LA City College.
As Paul wrote:
“When I was 15, (1969) I flat out decided to be a baseball play by play announcer. I had been listening to Vin Scully and Jerry Doggett and the Angels had Buddy Blattner and Don Wells.
Then Enberg arrived on the scene and he, along with Dave Niehaus were on Angels games.
At that time, of course, radio was king with very few games on TV.
I actually wrote to a handful of sportscasters about how to get started and Enberg wrote back with encouraging words and suggested I buy a small tape recorder — a three inch reel to reel model from Radio Shack — and start practicing. I did. Games off TV, re-create games from my trusted score book and sitting in the stands at old Bovard Field at USC.
Fast forward to years later and the man who hired Enberg, the late KMPC producer Steve Bailey, hired me to come back from Cleveland after the 1989 baseball season to broadcast Rams, UCLA and some fill-in on Angels radio. My former boss at KLAC, Bill Ward, was running KMPC and Bill actually was the trigger man for me coming back to work with Steve.
So I cherish that Steve Bailey connection since I figured if he liked the great Dick Enberg, then when he helped my career he might have seen some similar traits – most notably to be adept at radio baseball, football and basketball play by play.
To this day still are only a handful of guys who are really good at all three.
And way back to that note to the 15 year old me, Dick told me (since I had told him I only wanted to do baseball and nothing else) to branch out and do other sports aside from baseball. He was so versatile hosting game shows, the Rose Parade, doing movies (maybe an Oscar for ‘Heaven Can Wait’)
I also learned from Dick to look good. He was one of the first guys I remember to really mix and match colors of shirts and jackets and ties and cardigan sweaters (which he loved to wear) and white (think Pat Boone) shoes were also a style choice of his.
I recall one night, the Angels were on TV from Oakland, he appeared on camera with a freshly grown mustache, a black leather sports coat, a polka-dot tie and a pink shirt. But that was normal stuff for Dick — and others. It was the 70’s after all.
I still have the recording of Dick recounting his trip to China that he did over a three day period on Wink Martindale’s mid morning DJ show on KMPC. Wink totally blew up his normal format to give Dick the time to tell about his trip. Dick was that highly thought of.
And I still have cassette tapes of Dick’s Rams and Angels broadcasts that I would study to learn about what he felt was important to include in a play by play account of a game.
I did think it odd that his baseball radio partner, Don Drysdale, was his football color guy for a few seasons. But Dick is from the era where the play by play guy had to do competent analysis as well, so I made sure to learn the finer point of all sports. I read a lot of books.
One of my favorite games to listen to from Enberg is the Rams game where Harold Jackson caught four TD passes. On the fourth catch, as Enberg was calling: “He’s at the 10, the 5 … Touchdown!”
Only when he said ‘Touchdown,’ his voice cracked and went really high pitched. But he laughed it off as being part of the excitement of the moment.
Once, while I was at a Rams-Packers game practicing my play by play into a tape recorder, I had a really good TD call. After the game, I waited for Dick. When he came down the Coliseum elevator, I played him the tape of the call. He complimented me on my accuracy and said with a smile: “I better be careful, you just might take my job one day.”
Dick’s warmth as a person comes through in all of his broadcasts — a rare thing to hear these days — and I learned to try and have some of my personality come through in my broadcasts – even while doing PA announcing.
When I last saw Dick, after his final Super Bowl in 1998, we rode the elevator down the press box at San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium and I asked him what was next. And it caught me by surprise when he said he wanted to return to local baseball announcing.
Well, he got his wish and I think he would say he’s a baseball announcer at heart who just happened to do other stuff. Now he’s in the Hall of Fame, or as he would say, “Ohhhhh my.”
== Highlights of Saturday’s ceremony will air on the MLB Network on Sunday at 8 a.m., prior to the live coverage of the inductions of Randy Johnson, Craig Biggio, John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez, Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa and Bobby Cox (at 10:30 a.m.)
== Here’s video of CSUN women’s water polo player Kiernan Davis and her parents met with Enberg at Petco Park in San Diego earlier this week. Davis received CSUN’s Dick Enberg Post-Graduate Scholarship for Academic Excellence and will use it to finish her Master’s in Public Administration from CSUN.
== A recent podcast with Bill Rhoden talking to Olden from last month.
== An April interview with Olden from the New York Times, as filtered through LAObserved.com