The word fits quite naturally into Dick Enberg’s vocabulary list, but he’s quick to credit Stan Charnofsky.
Sagacity — one of those Latin-root expressions that has to do with having foresight, a keen perception and wise discernment, leading to the ability to make sound judgement – isn’t really a baseball term until one figures out a way to squeeze it in there.
It took some hurry-up-and-wait sagacity for those who vote on the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Ford C. Frick Award to finally select Enberg as its newest honoree for his body of work in communicating the game. The 80-year-old former voice of the California Angels will detour from his current San Diego Padres’ TV job to arrive in Cooperstown, N.Y. next weekend to be feted.
And if one were to prune the tree of Enberg’s baseball knowledge, looking for a hint of how he became such a celebrated and cerebral voice of the game, perhaps there was no time in his life more fertile than when he was lured to a brand-new college campus in Northridge surrounded by orange groves some 50 years ago.
There, at San Fernando Valley State College, a former USC standout second baseman, New York Yankees Triple-A player and eventual recipient of a doctoral degree in counseling psychology was prepared to be Enberg’s primary cultivator.
“The mental errors were inexcusable for Charnofsky,” Enberg recently recalled about the seasons the two of coached baseball together at the school from 1962 to ‘64. “You had to play in a smart manner. You could be an average player, but if you played with sagacity – one of Stan’s words – then you could win games up here (pointing to his head).”
Enberg has admitted more than once he learned more about baseball from Charnofsky in his first year at SFVSC than he did the previous 26 years of watching, playing and broadcasting.
“To work with Stan and watch how he taught baseball to the players – I thought I knew a little bit,” Enberg said when he visited the campus last March to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first Matadors’ conference championship baseball team – managed by Charnofsky.
“I work them in a broadcast today. There’ll be times in a game, an incident, that’ll take me all the way back to the ’60s and Charnofsky, and I’ll use that.
“And I’ll sound a lot brighter than I really am. And I’m thankful for that.”
Charnofsky, whose wavy gray hair is pulled back on a pony tail as he sits in his tiny third-floor office situated in the CSUN Education Building, politely smiles when he’s told about Enberg’s admiration for him.
“Listen, if Dick says he learned from me, I really learned from Rod Dedeaux,” the 84-year-old Charnofsky said this week, referring to the legendary late USC coach. “And Rod, you know, learned from Casey Stengel.”
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== Cox Cable’s Jane Mitchell visits with Enberg recently (above)
== On Monday, CSUN water polo player Kiernan Davis will visit Enberg at Petco Park. She is the recipient of Dick Enberg Post-Graduate Scholarship for Academic Excellence.
== In an Enberg profile from the Baseball Hall of Fame website, he talks about the secret former PCL broadcaster and eventual Angels GM Fred Haney gave him:
“Fred Haney was the man I listened to as a very young boy calling Pacific Coast League games and now (in 1968) he’s the general manager of the Angels. He came into the broadcast booth about a half hour before the first pitch, and I’m very nervous, and he said, ‘Enberg, I heard you during spring training. I know you’re going to do a fine job for us. I just want to give you a little piece of advice: Report the ball. Don’t tell me what you hope the ball is going to do, what you think it’s going to do, why it didn’t do it. Report the ball.’ Then he said, ‘That’s all I have to say to you. I won’t come in your booth the rest of the year.’
“And it was a great gift that Haney gave to me because sometimes, especially on radio, when you are trying to paint the total picture, and when the pitcher backs off and refuses to throw the ball, it always took me back to the ball. And it works on all sports. When in doubt, report the ball.”
== Enberg visited the Angels’ broadcast crew when the Padres played in Anaheim earlier this season.