CBS announced today that longtime sports broadcaster Jack Whitaker died at his home today from natural causes. Whitaker was 95.
Whitaker, a World War 2 veteran, spent more than two decades as a CBS sports broadcaster before moving to ABC, where he spent the rest of his career. Among many career highlights, Whitaker called Super Bowl 1 and Secretariat’s Triple Crown win, along with multiple Olympics.
It’s hard to adequately eulogize a legend, but statements from Jim Nantz and Sean McManus in the CBS report gave it a pretty good shot:
“When I first met Jack Whitaker in 1986 at Pebble Beach, I felt like I had just been introduced to Ernest Hemingway,” Nantz said. “I grew up watching him deliver contemplative and contextual prose with his famous short essays, bringing class and dignity to his industry. He was enormously proud to have called Super Bowl I for CBS and was the last surviving network commentator from that landmark game. I spoke to him this week after hospice came to his home and his mind was still brilliantly sharp right to the end.”
CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus issued a statement expressing his condolences to Whitaker’s family, saying, “There will never be another Jack Whitaker in sports broadcasting.”
“His amazing writing ability, on-air presence and humanity are unmatched. His unique perspective on sports ranging from horse racing to golf to NFL football was extraordinary,” McManus said. “My father and Jack shared an incredible respect for each other and had the warmest of friendships that lasted for decades. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jack’s family.”
Whitaker’s career spanned multiple eras of sports broadcasting and media, and he distinguished himself throughout all of them. What a life.