Death of Legendary Play-by-Play Man Dick Enberg Triggers Personal Memories for Author Phil Ross
- Dec. 23, 2017
Former SoCal Sportswriter Relates 1-on-1 Dealings with Late Broadcaster, One-Time L.A. Rams' 'Moles'
Here is a firsthand set of recollections, dating back nearly a half-century, by Colorado author Phil Ross, based on the death earlier this week of legendary sportscaster Dick Enberg:
Many positive tributes on Twitter the past couple of days, based on my firsthand dealings with Dick Enberg from the 1970s, ring true. As a young sportswriter in my early 20s, I worked for a daily rag in suburban Orange County; I covered the old L.A. Rams, in same the old Coliseum where the new, Stan Kroenke-owned L.A. Rams play until their new stadium just down the Harbor Freeway in suburban Inglewood is ready. Enberg and future Mariners HOF "mic" Dave Niehaus, who died in 2010, couldn't have been nicer to the youngest pup on the beat.
On a Thanksgiving '71 trip, for instance, when we covered the first Turkey Day game in then-new-but-since-imploded Texas Stadium, they invited me to a poker game on a big table in Dave's hotel suite the night before the game.
Seeing tribute Tweets showing Dick with longtime TV partner Merlin "Father Murphy" Olsen of HOF and Fearsome Foursome renown, also hit my nostalgia button. Merlin and Marlin McKeever, both also having passed to "The Other Side," were my main, anonymous moles, feeding me inside info, which I'd confirm with others, that allowed me occasionally to "scoop" the Big Boys like the L.A. & L.B. dailies, and the Orange County Register. Marlin & I would meet weekly during the preseason at Shakey's Pizza across from the training camp at Cal State Fullerton, where he dished out juicy rumors with the pepperoni & bell peppers, then we'd huddle whenever warranted during the regular season.
Just Like Back at Anaheim's Western High School (Download Gallery Now)
The downloadable photo gallery here is explained in detail below.
Retrospective with Rockies, Former WHS Pioneers
In the eight downloadable photos in the accompanying 10th-anniversary gallery above, Colorado Author Phil Ross and old high school buddy John Schumacher of Bakersfield, Calif., hook up after many years, at a Texas Rangers-Colorado Rockies interleague game at Denver's Coors Field in summer 2006, then spend time on Daniels Park Road, south of Denver, taking in panoramic vistas, watching a local buffalo herd, and re-living images of Ross's two-decade career as a college and prep baseball umpire.
Ross is garbed in the cap of his favorite college football team, the Texas A&M Aggies, and a T-shirt, part of his collegiate collection, from Louisiana's Northwestern State University in the old historic town of Natchitoches.
The pictorial and balloon captions are from a 2007 calendar produced by Schumacher and his wife, Joan Knowlden Schumacher. In the one on-field game photo, it is during the between-half-innings break in the eighth inning. Colorado's California-bred southpaw reliever Brian Fuentes tosses warm-up pitches to catcher Yorvit Torrealba, a native of Venezuela; plate umpire Joe Brinkman, a Floridian, checks his ball-strike counter, and second-base umpire Derryl Cousins, also from California, awaits the resumption of action in the distant left background. The inset at bottom left of the warm-up photo is Dinger, the Rockies' dinosaur mascot.
Both Brinkman and Cousins have since retired. Mentors over the years of promising Latino umpires from the U.S. and several other Western Hemisphere countries, each is the subject of anecdotes in BLUE HOMBRES: The Life and Times of Major League Baseball's Latino Umpires, First of a Trilogy, which is available at amazon.com, bn.com and goodreads.com, among other outlets. The First Edition's Spanish-language version, HOMBRES AZULES, will be available to the public in early 2017. (Photos by Joan Knowlden Schumacher)