In the full-stop Oh my! moment of his life, Dick Enberg leaves a wealth of memories for colleagues and fans of many sports. He passed on Wednesday, potentially due to a heart attack, at the age of 82.
His wife, Barbara, was waiting for him at the Boston airport but he would never get on the plane. He was, it's been reported, waiting for a car to take him to an airport on the other side of the country. Bags packed, ready to go.
Coverage of Wimbledons, US Opens, French Opens and Olympiads aplenty catalyzed a decorated career.
"I've never really been comfortable with that," he told Sports Illustrated's Jon Wertheim in an October 2016 podcast. "I've never been more important than the game. I'm just there to complement the game. ... I've been fortune, as you are, to sit next to the greatest players in that sport, and not just tennis but all the sports."
In that same interview, Enberg described his full retirement from broadcasting as "the first day of the rest of my life." He was working on a book at that time, with a desire to visit his daughter's family – including his sole grandchild – where they lived in Rwanda. Enberg remarked that he "liked being in new places ... and being on an airplane. I get a lot of good thinking time."
In light of the news, tennis stars–turned-commentators, many of whom have rubbed athletic elbows with Enberg in the broadcast booth, poured out their thoughts and hearts on social media. Among them: Chris Evert, who just turned 63 years young; Pam Shriver, who recently feted Enberg with an award presentation; and Billie Jean King.
RIP to someone who I felt honored to work with and considered a friend.. Dick Enberg. Will miss him dearly. pic.twitter.com/wrBLWp2OTI— Chris Evert (@ChrissieEvert) December 22, 2017
In May 2017 was my last time to spend time with Dick Enberg. I was asked to present him with the Ben Press award in San Diego. I am thinking of his family tonight. ????????RIP Mr. Enberg. PS pic.twitter.com/ADW2zBue1c— Pam Shriver (@PHShriver) December 22, 2017
Saddened to hear of the death of my friend, Dick Enberg. A consummate professional & titan of the broadcasting world, Dick loved tennis & called an incredible 28 @Wimbledon championships. I was so honored that he chose me as 1st guest on his #SoundofSuccess show. I’ll miss you.— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) December 22, 2017
More colleagues from ESPN and other networks shared their memories of life with Enberg:
RIP Dick Enberg. One of the nicest men you could ever hope to meet. A total pro and legend of sports calling. I always felt honoured to sit next to him in the ESPN booth & his advice was genuine & priceless. Big hugs to all of his family & friends ???? #OhMy— Darren Cahill (@darren_cahill) December 22, 2017
Met Dick Enberg in his Angels’ booth as a 12 y-o dreamer & wannabe. I’ve learned from & admired his unmatched class & grace ever since... was immensely proud to call him an ESPN tennis colleague. Such sad news this morning. I’ll miss him deeply, especially while at Wimbledon— Chris Fowler (@cbfowler) December 22, 2017
Dick Enberg, as good as it gets.— MikeTirico (@miketirico) December 22, 2017
He cared about the game and the viewers. He elevated his partners. A perfect fit calling any sport .. and even better guy when you got to meet him. I will cherish our chats in Queens, Northern Michigan and at Wimbledon.
Prayers to his family.
Oh My.— Patrick McEnroe (@PatrickMcEnroe) December 22, 2017
R I P Dick Enberg
Pure Class in every way
Organizations weighed in on the broadcasting icon's passing as well:
When Dick Enberg hosted our Legends Ball this year, he commented that it was a treat for him to be back in tennis for the night.— Tennis Hall of Fame (@TennisHalloFame) December 22, 2017
Of course, the privilege was actually all of ours. As it was to have him be part of the tennis world for so many years.
He will be greatly missed. pic.twitter.com/ehNzM98Goj
Legendary broadcaster. Indiana Hoosier.— Indiana Hoosiers (@IUHoosiers) December 22, 2017
Condolences to the family & loved ones of Dick Enberg. pic.twitter.com/uz3gUQkK2z
This is a man who covered 28 Wimbledons. Twenty-eight, friends. In the words of the great poet Mary Oliver, "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"
Rest peacefully, Richard Alan Enberg.
Follow Jon on Twitter @jonscott9.