Jack Whitaker, Hall of Fame sports broadcaster and Philly native, dies at 95

Mark Abrams
August 19, 2019 - 7:03 am
Jack Whitaker

Richard Shotwell/In vision/AP, file

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio/AP) — Jack Whitaker, whose Hall of Fame broadcasting career ranged from the first Super Bowl to Secretariat's Triple Crown to short essays from major sporting events, died Sunday morning, CBS reported.

The network said Whitaker died of natural causes in his sleep in Devon, Chester County. He was 95.

Whitaker a Philadelphia native who was wounded by shrapnel from an artillery shell or mortar on Omaha Beach three days after the D-Day invasion began his broadcast career at WCAU-TV channel 10 in Philadelphia in the late 1950s. With his distinctive delivery and sports knowledge, he quickly made his way to CBS, where he ultimately spent 22 years as a sports announcer, calling everything from football to golf, even horse racing.

He also worked for ABC from 1982 in the news and sports divisions, and was part of the network's Olympics coverage in 1984 and 1988.

"I grew up watching him deliver contemplative and contextual prose with his famous short essays, bringing class and dignity to his industry," Jim Nantz, the lead CBS Sports announcer, said in a statement. "I spoke to him this week after hospice came to his home, and his mind was still brilliantly sharp right to the end."

Whitaker had been the only living play-by-play announcer from the first 21 Super Bowls.

Philadelphia Eagles radio play-by-play announcer Merrill Reese remembers Whitaker well.

"In the early days of Eagles being on television, Jack Whitaker would do the television because the television was all network, the way it is now," he said, "the TV crew and the radio crew and, of course, Bill Campbell did the radio and Jack Whitaker did the television play-by-play."

Reese said Whitaker had a front-row seat for some of the greatest moments in sports history.

"Jack did numerous Super Bowls. Jack was always part of the Masters golf. He was part of the Triple Crown races," he added. "There was nothing that Jack Whitaker didn't do. He was as big time as big time could be."

CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said Whitaker's writing, presence on air and humanity were unmatched.

"His unique perspective on sports ranging from horse racing to golf to NFL football was extraordinary," McManus said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. © Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.