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Volume 26 No. 109
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Longtime Broadcaster Jack Whitaker Passes Away At 95

Whitaker throughout his career seemingly covered almost every niche in the sports world
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Whitaker throughout his career seemingly covered almost every niche in the sports world
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Whitaker throughout his career seemingly covered almost every niche in the sports world
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

JACK WHITAKER, an Emmy-winning sports broadcaster for more than three decades whose specialty was "elegant, graceful commentaries, first for CBS and later for ABC," died yesterday at his home in Pennsylvania at 95, according to Richard Goldstein of the N.Y. TIMES. Whitaker "covered just about every niche in the sports world." In '61, he became the host of the anthology series “CBS Sports Spectacular,” and he "began covering the PGA Championship and the Masters in the early 1960s." But he was "perhaps best known for his essays about sports." Whitaker began doing color commentary for Eagles games in '56, then became the team’s play-by-play broadcaster in '60. Whitaker went on to be the play-by-play broadcaster for the NFL Giants in '65, and he was "part of the CBS broadcast crew at the first Super Bowl two years later" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/19).

LASTING LEGACY: USA TODAY's Steve Gardner notes after 22 years at CBS Sports, Whitaker "moved to ABC," where he covered the '84 and '88 Olympic Games and served as a commentator for ABC News. He was inducted into the American Sportscasters HOF in '97 and the Sports Broadcasting HOF in '12. He also received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the '12 Sports Emmy Awards ceremony (USA TODAY, 8/19). GOLFWEEK's Bill Speros wrote, "Whitaker often offered the viewer a cultivated and intelligent perspective, but he sprinkled his reportage or play-by-play with piercing commentary befitting his Philadelphia roots" (GOLFWEEK.com, 8/18). 

HISTORY WITH AUGUSTA: GOLF DIGEST's John Strege noted when Whitaker was working his first Masters telecast for CBS in '66, on Sunday evening he "referred to the crowd coming up the 18th hole as a mob." A month before the ’67 Masters, CBS "informed him he would not be working the telecast" as a result. Whitaker "always believed that the call was made not by CBS," but by Augusta National Founding Chair CLIFFORD ROBERTS. But in '72, CBS "invited Whitaker to attend the Masters as a guest." He ended up "working the 16th hole" that year after meeting with Roberts. He then "worked several more Masters for CBS" (GOLFDIGEST.com, 8/18).