He had a bad cold and his voice, what was left of it, was croaky and raw. This was his fourth NCAA basketball tournament game in two days, and Dick Enberg didn’t think he could finish it. That had never happened before, but it was happening now.
So, during a commercial break, Enberg turned to his broadcast partner Al McGuire and asked the former Marquette coach, who had never done play-by-play, to take over.
Shaking his head, McGuire said, “Dicksie, if you’re goin’, I’m goin’.”
So, of course, Enberg carried on, whispering his way to the finish in true the-show-must-go-on fashion.
Enberg, who got into the broadcast business accidentally and stayed in it to supplement his teacher’s salary, died Thursday morning at his La Jolla home, his wife, Barbara, told the San Diego Union-Tribune.
He was 82.
Barbara Enberg said the family found out later in the day when Dick Enberg failed to get off a flight in Boston, where they were scheduled to meet. She said her husband had appeared to be waiting for a car that was set to shuttle him to the San Diego airport for a 6:30 a.m. flight.
“He was dressed with his bags packed at the door,” she said. “We think it was a heart attack.”
Long recognized as one of the most versatile and enthusiastic sports announcer of his era, Enberg did it all: major league baseball, college and pro football, college basketball, boxing, tennis, golf, Olympics, Rose Bowls and Super Bowls, Breeders’ Cup horse racing — earning a trophy case full of Emmys, awards from the pro football, basketball and baseball halls of fame, niches in several broadcasting halls of fame and other assorted honors.