Jack Whitaker Dies – Famed Sports Announcer Got Start in Pottsville
Legendary sports announcer Jack Whitaker died Sunday at the age of 95.
Whitaker is best known for his moments behind the mic at some of America’s iconic sports events. However, in 1947, Whitaker got his start in broadcasting at the recently started WPAM-AM radio (1450) in Pottsville.
He worked in Pottsville until he started at WCAU in Philadelphia. There, he became play-by-play announcer for the Philadelphia Eagles and began to take on more national sports work for CBS.
Announcer Jack Whitaker Dies
Whitaker went on to announce some of the biggest events in American sports.
He shared play-by-play duties at Super Bowl I (before it was called the Super Bowl). Whitaker remained a fixture at all the major golf championships and Triple Crown horse races through much of his career. He was the last living announcer from any Super Bowl from 1 through 21.
Here is Whitaker with the CBS announcing crew ahead of Super Bowl 50.
Alongside Pat Summerall, Whitaker hosted some of the earliest seasons of The NFL Today on CBS, which still airs to this day. In 1971, Whitaker hosted with soon-to-be legend sportscaster Pat Summerall.
Whitaker moved from CBS Sports to the ABC Network in 1982. There, he reported on the Olympics and appeared on the network’s main news program to talk about sports. Whitaker won 3 sports Emmy awards during his career.
Here’s Jack Whitaker wrapping up the US Open golf tournament in 1987, working alongside the legendary Jim McKay.
Jim Nantz, the face of CBS Sports, released a statement on the news of Whitaker’s death:
“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.”
Whitaker Survived Normandy Invasion
Before coming to Pottsville, Whitaker served in the U.S. Army and stormed Normandy 3 days after the famed D-Day invasion. He was injured by shrapnel then and later injured in battle again. He was honorably discharged from the Army in 1945 and then found his way to the coal region to start his broadcasting career.