Players Who Died, died
We lost many baseball players in 2017 but none of them meant as much to me as the announcer we lost in Dick Enberg. Last week Spectrum Channel 30 played a Tribute to Dick Enberg and it was possibly the best I’ve seen of such shows. Mainly because Dick Enberg hosted his own tribute show. This show was produced by Fox Sports San Diego and was called A Tribute to Dick Enberg. What made this show unique was that it was produced after Dick retired from the Padres and he gave an excellent review of his career and how some forks in the road changed his life after high school. I’ve tried to find a link but have been unable to do so. If you have Spectrum, I’d suggest going to On Demand and finding it via the search option. It will be worth your hour.
You might be tired of hearing about Dick Enberg by now but I was blown away by the information I gleaned about his career from that special.
- He applied to be a janitor at the only radio station in his small town but when they interviewed him they liked his voice so they let him do the radio news.
- The sports director left after six months and with no one else available they gave him the job.
- He taught at the original San Fernando Valley State College, which eventually became Cal State Northridge before starting his broadcasting career in Los Angeles.
If you have watched any sports over the last two weeks you will have noticed something. Dick Enberg was such a giant in so many sports that you will have seen tributes to him during College Basketball games, NFL games, and College Football games. You can bet when the Masters comes around we will see another one.
He was unique and I still feel lucky to have moved to Southern California just as his broadcasting career was getting started. When you think about it, in 1969 a sports fan in Los Angles had Vin Scully, Dick Enberg, and Chick Hearn. The holy trinity.
This madcap poetic romp by Jim Carrol’s People who Died, died always struck me long before I knew anything about the Basketball Diaries. Jim wrote this iconic song in 1980, and Jim himself died in 2009 of a simple heart attack.
These are the baseball players who died in 2017, and here is a brief look at each of those who had either Dodger ties or impacted me as a baseball fan.
Jim Bunning – HOF pitcher who was 37 years old when the Dodgers acquired him on August 15th, 1969. Bunning made nine starts for the Dodgers and acquitted himself well enough but the team fell short of the postseason. Bunning won 19 games three years in a row and eventually had four seasons of 19 wins. Jim Bunning pitched as he threw over 200 innings eleven straight seasons.
Paul Casanova – Paul was a member of my original favorite team the 1968 Washington Senators. Casanova was a horrible offensive player and even Ted Williams couldn’t help him. He still managed a 10 year career.
Bill Hands was a pitcher for the Cubs in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Bill was an above average pitcher from 1967 – 1973 but the reason he makes this list is that he was the best pitcher for the Cubs in 1969 and I was a big fan of the 1969 Cub team. That was the team that had a nine game lead on Aug 16th but went 17 – 26 over their final 43 games and watched as the Mets stunned baseball by winning the NL Pennant and World Championship. I’m pretty sure the only reason I was rooting for the Cubs was to that Ernie Banks could finally go to a World Series. It never happened but I will admit I got all sorts of joy watching the Mets win the World Series.
Gene Michael was supposed to replace Maury Wills. The Dodgers traded for the slightly built shortstop on December 1st, 1966 after Wills angered Dodger management by complaining about the trip to Japan after the World Series. Michael was a horrible hitter and lasted only one season with the Dodgers. As a kid I held grudges against Dodgers who didn’t perform which meant I disliked Bob Bailey and Gene Michael for a long time. Michael made his bones as part of the NYY management team.
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