Dick Enberg’s voice is one of those classic commentators that you could probably recognize if you were crank called on the phone. The man who has called college basketball, boxing, professional football, baseball, the Olympics, horse racing, tennis, golf, and who knows what else(!) has provided insight into the world of sports for fifty-plus years, and his cheerfulness in announcing those events is unparalleled. While many of today’s commentators seemed to want to make a name for themselves, or sarcastically insert their own feelings into the game itself, Enberg always seemed to the audience know what he was seeing without much editorializing.
And that’s why he’s in my top-5 commentators of all time.
With the updated release of his autobiography, Oh My!, Enberg lays out some of the greatest sporting events of the last fifty years, as well as his own life story dotted by those highlights. We hear about his parents, his marriages, his children, and the people who have helped him become the person and sportscaster who he is today. It’s entertaining, amusing, moving, and thought-provoking at the same time. For a man who has worked with John McEnroe, Bill Walton, Al McGuire, Billy Packer, and others, you know there’s plenty of dirt to be had… isn’t there?
One of the real plusses of the book is that Enberg provides inside stories without ever being trashy. He gives plenty of other people credit for how he succeeded and why he succeeded, and he rarely points fingers in the direction of people who hurt him. It’s definitely entertaining to hear about his experience of John Wooden and poetry, or McGuire and his thoughts on life, but there’s the heart of a hard worker, a thoughtful person, and a compassionate man behind the words in this book.
Sports certainly provided Enberg a world he wouldn’t have seen otherwise, and if we’re wise, we can pick up a few pointers, too. We might consider how to treat others, how to approach failure, how to promote ourselves when seeking a job, and what it means when we recognize that we’ve hurt someone and need to make it right. Enberg has learned a lot, and if we’re smart, we’ll consider which lessons apply to us, too.