Beloved broadcaster Dick Enberg, who called the first seven editions of the Breeders' Cup, died Dec. 21 at his home in La Jolla, Calif. He was 82.
Enberg was known for his versatility, calling Super Bowls, World Series, NCAA Final Fours, Wimbledon, the Olympics, and many other top events. As Matt Bonesteel recalled in a Dec. 22 obituary in the Washington Post, Enberg once told the San Diego Union-Tribune that his most anxious moment involved horse racing when he lost his notes the night before the 1989 Breeders' Cup.
"That was the most anxious I'd ever seen him in his life. He was hyperventilating," his wife, Barbara, told the Union-Tribune in 2016. "We ended up calling the night maid staff to see if they threw them out. We went down and went through the trash. I was worried he was going to have a heart attack, he was worrying so much. But we came back to the room and pulled the blinds back and there was a little bay window. The maid must have moved them there while cleaning."
Said Dick Enberg, "I was ready-to-cry kind of panicked."
In a statement, Breeders' Cup president and CEO Craig Fravel recalled the professionalism Enberg brought to those broadcasts as well as his love for horse racing.
"All of us who love sports and racing are greatly saddened today with the passing of Dick Enberg, one of America's greatest sports broadcasters and an even greater person, who exuded enormous warmth and respect for friends and fans in his wonderful life," Fravel said. "Dick hosted the first seven broadcasts of NBC's coverage of the Breeders' Cup, beginning with the unprecedented four-hour live program of the inaugural event from Hollywood Park in 1984. As with his remarkable proficiency and versatility in delivering play-by-play for the local teams in southern California, and for the many World Series, Super Bowls, and NCAA Final Fours he worked, Dick brought the same energy, passion, and knowledge of his craft to horse racing on the national stage.
"In addition to his professional duties, Dick was a devoted fan and Member of the Turf Club at Del Mar for many years. We were so very pleased to honor Dick just a few days prior to this year's first-ever Breeders' Cup at Del Mar with the Breeders' Cup Sports and Racing Excellence Award. It was a remarkable evening of tributes from his many friends, colleagues, and admirers who were there to salute his outstanding lifetime achievements. On behalf of all of us at the Breeders' Cup, we extend our deepest sympathies to Dick's wife, Barbara, and his extended family."