Legendary CBS and ABC sportscaster Jack Whitaker dies at 95

Ryan Young
Yahoo Sports Contributor
Longtime sportscaster Jack Whitaker, center, died Sunday. He was 95. (Richard Shotwell/AP)

Longtime CBS and ABC sportscaster Jack Whitaker died of natural causes in his sleep on Sunday morning in Devon, Pennsylvania, CBS announced. He was 95.

Whitaker kicked off his career with CBS Sports in the late 1950s. Most notably, he called the first Super Bowl for CBS and Secretariat’s Triple Crown Race in 1973.

The World War II veteran stayed with CBS for 22 years.

"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," CBS Sports chairman Sean 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 joined ABC in 1982, where he covered both the Winter and Summer Olympics in 1984 and the Winter Olympics in 1988. He also worked with ABC News, reporting for ABC’s World News Tonight, Nightline and 20/20. He was inducted into the American Sportscasters Hall of Fame in 1997, the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2012 and received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2012 Sports Emmy Awards, too.

“Jack Whitaker was one of broadcasting’s most respected, elegant and knowledgeable commentators whose legendary career spanned a half century and so many significant events,” ESPN said in a statement. “His reporting skills and poignant essays graced productions of the Olympics, ABC’s Wide World of Sports and ABC News and he helped shape so much of the sports coverage that fans are accustomed to today. Our condolences to his wife, Patricia, and the Whitaker family.”

Fellow CBS broadcaster Jim Nantz had nothing but praise for Whitaker in a statement he released on Sunday afternoon, and said he spoke with Whitaker this week.

“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.”

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