We went on a mission to gather remedies on how to keep a broadcaster’s vocal cords in top shape during this crazy time of year. But in the process, we also were passed along some war stories by those who lost their voices at some point in their career and how they scrambled to get it back.
If this makes you feel any better, they survived to tell these:
The Baseball Hall of Famer notes that in his 60 years of broadcasting, he never once missed an assignment because of losing his voice. But on pages 132-133 of his 2004 autobiography “Oh, My!” he tells a story about how he tried to bail out, but his partner wouldn’t allow it. During the 1979 NCAA basketball tournament, he and Al McGuire were doing did four games in two days — in two different cities. They did the first two games in Providence, Rhode Island on the first Saturday, and Enberg noticed his voice was getting tired. “By the end of the second game I was reduced to a whisper,” writes Enberg. They had to go to Murfreesboro, Tennessee for two more games on Sunday “and “I refused to talk to anyone on the plane and didn’t utter a peep to anyone in the hotel. All I did was gargle and suck strong lozenges trying to protect what little was left of my voice. …”
By the time they made it to the Tennessee-Notre Dame game — the fourth one of the weekend — Enberg said he was “sounding like something between a man and a toad” … and “not only did my throat hurt me, it hurt me to hear myself.”
At halftime, he declared his voice to be dead. He turned to McGuire and whispered: “Coach, I can’t go any longer. You have to take over. Here’s what I’ll do. I know you don’t know all the players, but I’ll assist you by pointing them out on my spotting boards, and I’ll underline any statistics that are important. I’ll be right here next to you.”
Enberg finishes the story: “With total insensitivity, Al said without a blink: ‘Dicksie, if you’re goin’, I’m goin’.” That was all he said. I did the rest of the game. He was too smart. He was really saying, ‘You think I’m going to try something I can’t do on national television? I’d rather watch you die on television. I’m not going to die, too.’ Typical Al. The Fox.”
When recalling that story this week, Enberg added: “That game in 1979 (which led to the Magic Johnson-Larry Bird NCAA final) was just prior to my first Wimbledon. I was reduced to a whisper with no sympathy from Al. But come to think of it … it’s yet another reason why Wimbledon was and is my favorite event. In an obtuse way, the Championships and Meggezones (where he could find his favorite throat medicine) may have saved my career.”