Fans remember Dick Enberg's legacy, commitment to CMU


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A statue of Dick Enberg is located at the John G. Kulhavi Events Center in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. 

Using a microphone, Dick Enberg connected with a national audience in a variety of sports.

But it was at Central Michigan University where Enberg connected with his first audience – a connection that lasted a lifetime.

Enberg died Dec. 21 at the age of 82 in his California home. Word of his death reached Mount Pleasant, where community members were prepping for the football team’s appearance against Wyoming in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Fans took time to reflect on the career of one of CMU's most famous alumni.

Jim Hecksel, a 1973 alumnus, and his wife Linda Hecksel, a 1975 alumna, moved back to Mount Pleasant from Indiana four years ago. As graduates of CMU, they know Enberg’s legacy all too well. Jim Hecksel said he was stunned when he heard the news. 

“It’s not something you expect to wake up to,” he said.

Jim Hecksel extended his condolences to the Enberg family. He said not many broadcasters have a famous catchphrase – referencing Enberg’s “Oh my.”

Linda Hecksel said she is sad that Enberg recently retired and didn’t get to experience it. She said she was impressed with his commitment to CMU.

‘He’s a strong supporter of CMU and we’ll miss him,” she said.

Richie Piatkowski has lived in Mount Pleasant for 25 years and called Friday's news "disappointing." He added that if you listened to NBC, you listened to Dick Enberg.

"He's done so many things," Piatkowski said. "He had a voice you just knew."

Piatkowski said he remembers Enberg from calling the Olympic games as a broadcaster working for NBC. 

Although not a CMU alumnus himself, Piatkowski praised Enberg for his commitment to CMU and for returning to Mount Pleasant.

"It's cool (for CMU and Mount Pleasant) to get the recognition," he said.

During halftime of Friday's game, some fans watching the contest at O'Kelly's Sports Bar & Grille raised their glasses after ESPN aired a tribute that showed footage of the 1980 Rose Bowl Game and Enberg's voice calling the contest.

Enberg retired as the play-by-play broadcaster for the San Diego Padres in 2016. In November 2016, Enberg visited CMU to offer advice and speak to students about his career. 

The academic center, located in the Indoor Athletic Complex, which serves student-athletes is named in his honor.

Enberg graduated summa cum laude from CMU in 1957 and served as student body president. The Armada native has covered Super Bowls, Rose Bowls and the World Series on his way to a Hall of Fame broadcasting career that earned him multiple Emmy Award wins.

A statue of Enberg sits near the entrance of McGuirk Arena – gifted by 1977 alumnus Todd Anson and his wife. According to the statue’s plaque, Enberg was a 15-time recipient of the National Sportscaster of the Year Award.

Central Michigan Life visited the statue Friday afternoon. Below it was a white piece of paper that read, “Thank you, Dick Enberg (1935-2017)” in black marker.

“Education was very, very good to me,” Enberg said, written on the statue’s plaque. “Like many of you, CMU accepted a perfect nobody and allowed him to be a somebody. And so it is and will be for many of you today. Oh My!!”

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About Evan Sasiela

Evan Sasiela is the University Editor at Central Michigan Life and a senior at Central Michigan ...

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