Remembering the legendary sportscaster, Dick Enberg
A note from Classic Journeys founder, Edward Piegza:
La Jolla, CA
The legendary sportscaster, Dick Enberg, who entertained generations of us with his “Oh My!” exclamations at the most significant sporting events of our time, has passed away. He was 82.
If you are over 50, you have your own personal Dick Enberg memory. It might be listening to him call the game of the century between Houston and undefeated UCLA in the Astrodome in 1968, the Magic Johnson – Larry Bird NCAA finals game in 1979, the Joe Montana to John Taylor pass in Super Bowl XXIII, or countless World Series, Wimbledons and Olympics.
For many Classic Journeys guests and the team in our office in La Jolla just blocks from Dick’s home, those iconic moments are overshadowed by the honor to have known Dick and his wife Barbara for almost 15 years. We were fortunate to see him as a dedicated father, husband, friend and fellow traveler. And what millions saw with Dick when he was in front of the camera is what we saw behind the scenes.
I first met Dick in 2003 when he called our office to reserve a trip to Turkey for himself and Barbara as a vacation between broadcasting assignments at the French Open and Wimbledon. That phone call led to countless visits to our office, as Dick would take his regular walks around the village of La Jolla, often stopping in to talk travel and plan his vacations. He was always attired in a tennis warm ups and sneakers. Every time.
He had time for everyone, and always had time to talk sports. He once called me from the broadcast booth at Wimbledon to talk travel, but first he wanted to give a recap of the day’s matches. You see, Lleyton Hewitt, the defending champion and #1 seed, was upset in the first round that day, and Dick needed to share his excitement with someone. So he spent 30 minutes recapping the match. On arrival at home that night, my wife asked me why I was not watching the Wimbledon recap on ESPN. I told her there was no need; I had the full download from Dick already.
On several occasions, my sons would question Dick at length about famous players he knew. Who was the nicest, the meanest, the best, the worst, and on and on. Dick never spoke ill of any of them, even while answering with great humor every question my sons threw at him.
Dick wanted everyone to share in his happiness and good fortune. As you’ll read in the interview below with Dick and Barbara, when he returned from that trip to Turkey with Classic Journeys (the first of four trips he and Barbara arranged with us that also included Loire & Burgundy, Costa Rica and Cuba), it wasn’t enough to enjoy the trip themselves. They wanted all of their friends to share in the fun too. So they hosted our Turkish guide, Cemil, for a week at their home. Then they invited 40 or so of their closest friends for a catered Turkish dinner. Barbara bought out every tulip flower available at our local florist, Adelaide’s. And after dinner, Dick narrated an old fashioned slide show recapping the trip for everyone in his man cave in the basement of their home. (You can see Dick sitting in that room in the photo above.) I do not have the words to describe the thrill of hearing that iconic voice narrating the tour that I created, while I sat there watching his photos from the trip.
Everyone who met Dick is feeling the shared sense of loss that we no longer have his good humor available to us. Then I remembered a Dr. Seuss quote, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” Forgive me, Dick, “Oh my”, We’re all so grateful that you happened in our lives; sporting, travel and otherwise.
“Oh My!”: Two words that began a love affair with Classic Journeys
— An interview with Dick and Barbara Enberg || October 12, 2012 || By: Steve Snapp
It’s a starlit night on the Mediterranean, off the Turkish coast. On the canopied deck of a teakwood yacht, Cemil’s mobile phone purrs. It’s Edward Piegza, President and Founder of Classic Journeys, making the usual mid-trip call to check in with the guide and his guests.
But this call was one for the record book. The mobile landed in the hand of guest Dick Enberg who didn’t miss a beat: “I have two words for you, Edward. OH, MY!” To anyone who has ever watched a Wimbledon match, an Olympic broadcast, or an NFL, NBA or MLB game, “Oh, my” is the unmistakable catchphrase of one of the great play-by-play announcers – words from Dick that define some of the most memorable moments in sports. Turns out, the words apply to travel, too.
Four years later, Dick and wife Barbara – an accomplished philanthropist and the family’s acknowledged travel guru extraordinaire – remember the moment like it was yesterday. Reminiscing with Edward over a bottle of Pouilly-Fuissé at the historic La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla, these inveterate travelers trace what they call their love affair with Classic Journeys back to that night.
Since signing on for their adventure in Turkey and Cappadocia, the couple has traveled with Classic Journeys twice more. First, they recruited a posse of friends to join them in Loire and Burgundy. Then they hosted their family of grown children for a New Year’s week in Costa Rica. Their next destination? “It’s under active debate.”
Clearly, these are passionate travelers with a lot of options. So why Classic Journeys? Barbara has the answer. “When we travel, we want to meet the people, not sit on a bus. We want to get some exercise and a sense of how the locals live. Classic Journeys promised that. And they really, really delivered.”
Their visit to an organic farm in Costa Rica is a case in point. As Edward confirmed, “Our friends Juan and Maria are small-scale farmers who give our guests a big-hearted welcome.” The Enbergs remember helping with a bit of harvest to provision the kitchen for lunch. “We saw how the farmers lived and worked…and ate! It was just wonderful.”
“In Turkey we went to our driver’s home and had dinner with his wife and children, and that was incredibly special too. It was a look inside a home like we would just never get on our own.” For another memorable meal, the chef leaped into the Mediterranean, harpooned the main course, and cooked it just minutes later.
Oenophile that he is, Dick fondly recalls the amble through Burgundy’s working vineyards and the visit to Beaune, the region’s historic capital of wine. “Wherever we’ve gone on a Classic Journey, we got a terrific sense of the place. There are just so many layers that we find very fascinating.
Of course, you can’t just wander into a private home and hope for a warm reception. The couple reserves their biggest raves for the local guides on the tours. As Dick puts it, “You can have a nice time with an okay guide, but you can have a great time with a guide who is as interested and excited in what we’re seeing and doing as we are ourselves. To me, that’s what is most impressive about Classic Journeys. The guides make the trips.”
Barbara agrees: “On Classic Journeys, the guides talk to you and get to know you and see what interests you. They don’t say to us, ‘Oh, no. We can’t do that. We have to be here at 2:00, and there at 4:00.’ They adjust to our wishes, and we think that’s a major win!” One sunset, moored offshore on their tour’s Turkish yacht, they spotted hang-gliders floating down the slopes of a 6,000-foot mountain. “That’s on my bucket list,” said Dick. The next morning, they were strapped in and gliding down themselves, an activity that’s not on the regular itinerary.
“We also had the best traveling companions every time. We really like the people with whom we shared the experiences.” In Turkey, the Enbergs joined a regular tour – and made friends whom they’ve seen since. France was more of a hybrid experience. Though the couple traveled with longtime friends, they all made continuing acquaintances with other guests.
But Barbara and Dick save their fondest reminiscences for the family’s trip to Costa Rica. “It was complicated to get our families together,” recalls Barbara. “They see each other, but not that regularly. It was a real luxury to have extended time to catch up.” Unsurprisingly, there seems to be nothing like hiking a cloud forest or New Year’s Eve charades in a remote lodge to make that happen. “There were times when the kids were telling stories and laughing and enjoying each other. It’s what parents enjoy most of all…watching their children have a good time together. I would classify that as a very happy time,” adds Dick. “It’s money well spent to bring the kids all together.”
Asked for an example of how close they really feel to Classic Journeys, the Enbergs, as usual, come up with the same answer fast. When their Turkish guide Cemil – he of the mobile phone on the yacht – paid a visit to southern California, they hosted 40 or 50 friends at a party in his honor. Edward remembers the native food, the flowing raki, and Dick pulling him aside. “I’ve been thinking about what we paid for the trip and what we got out of it. I don’t know how you load in so much and still make any money, Edward. But we just want you to keep on doing it!
In the lounge at La Valencia, the conversation winds down. Dick is taking off to broadcast a Padres game. Barbara is headed back to her busy life. Over a last sip of white Burgundy, Dick sums it up. “If anybody came to us and asked what they should do for their next trip, there is no doubt in our minds that we would send them to Classic Journeys.” Edward doesn’t actually say, “Oh, my.” But from his smile, you could feel very certain that that’s what he’s thinking.