Noted sportscaster Dick Enberg, a Phi Sigma Kappa initiated at Central Michigan University, passed away yesterday, December 21, 2017. After graduating from CMU, he went on the earn a masters and Ph.D. from Indiana University. While at IU, he was the voice of the first radio broadcast of the Little 500 bike race and was a play-by-play announcer for IU football and basketball.
When he was inducted into the IU Athletics Hall of Fame, Enberg recounted this story:
Mr. Dick Yoakam had just arrived from Iowa as a new member of the journalism staff, and he inspired the birth of the IU Sports Network. . . .And I happened to arrive on campus the same time that he did, and when the sign went up for the auditions, I applied and was fortunate to be able to win the position as the play-by-play announcer on that very first IU Sports Network staff.
His legendary, “Oh my!” had its start during his announcing career at IU and it remained with his for the rest of his life. In 2010, Enberg’s one-man play, COACH, had a two-night run at IU, among other campuses. It was a play about Marquette basketball coach Al McGuire.
As an aside, and because I’ve been meaning to write about it for years, the Little 500 bike race was started by Howard “Howdy” Wilcox, Jr., a 1942 graduate of IU and a member of Alpha Tau Omega. Wilcox’s father won the Indianapolis 500 automobile race in 1919. The younger Wilcox conceived the idea of a bike race run by students as a way to generate funds for scholarships. At the time, he was the Executive Director of the Indiana University Student Foundation. The race is held during the third week in April at Bill Armstrong Stadium. The movie Breaking Away was about the Little 500.
A women’s Little 500 competition was held for the first time in 1988. Prior to that, the women could only compete in a mini-trike race.