Former ESPN Reporter Hank Goldberg Dies, Leaving Sports Radio Legacy


When ESPN2 launched in 1993, Goldberg embarked on a 21-year run on the network, where he appeared on “NFL Countdown” and made NFL picks.Getty Images

Former ESPN NFL reporter and longtime horse racing analyst HANK GOLDBERG died on his 82nd birthday yesterday at his home in Las Vegas, according to Todd Dewey of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. His cause of death was “complications of a years-long battle with chronic kidney disease”. For decades, beginning in the 1970s, Goldberg “led the sports radio market in Miami”, where he earned the nicknames “The Hammer” and “Hammerin’ Hank”. He was the Dolphins’ radio color analyst from 1978 to 1992. Goldberg “learned the intricacies of sports handicapping” from the punter and “The NFL Today” contributor JIMMY “THE GREEK” SNYDER. Goldberg “used to write the syndicated Snyder column”, which appeared in over 200 newspapers. When ESPN2 launched in 1993, Goldberg “embarked on a 21-year run on the network,” where he appeared on ESPN’s “NFL Countdown” and made NFL Picks. He also “analyzed the Triple Crown horse racing” on “SportsCenter”. He moved to Las Vegas in 2018, where he “appeared on ESPN’s ‘Daily Wager’ sports betting show and worked for CBS Sports HQ and SportsLine.com.” He was “still working in June” when he “analyzed the Belmont Stakes” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 7/5).

END OF AN ERA: ESPN JEREMY SCHAAP said: “For half a century he was a staple of the South Florida sports scene…and his greatest exposure came in the NFL, but it was among the thoroughbreds where Goldberg was most at comfortable and in his element. He was a wise and committed handicapper. It was a throwback to the golden age of sport where the greatest stories were found on the track. ESPN DAVID LYON said Goldberg was “one of ESPN’s most colorful and enduring personalities” (“Sports Center,” ESPN, 7/3). At Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde writes that Goldberg’s passing “won’t mean much to anyone who has come to our transitional town in the last 15 years, a time by sporting standards.” But whoever “goes back a little further understands that an era passes with him”. Goldberg was an “early giant of sports radio – a loud, tough, opinionated, funny, self-consuming giant who defined the medium for years in South Florida”. His name was “The Hammer” and he “loved that name as much as he loved wielding one behind a mic” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 7/5).

LAYING THE FOUNDATIONS: In Miami, David Neal notes that Goldberg came to Miami as an “advertiser in the 1960s and worked in that business” well into the 90s. He “came out of the ‘Mad Men’ era” and ” helped create the modern sports radio show at WIOD after taking over from LARRY KING in 1978.” Miami-based WQAM-AM MARC HOCHMAN said, “His voice was one of the building blocks of sports radio in Miami.” Neal notes that when local TV stations “decided that Sunday nights, especially during football season, needed more sports, there was Goldberg on WTVJ’s sports finale.” University of Miami football and basketball play-by-play announcer JOE ZAGACKI, who previously worked with Goldberg, said, “He was as big as they come in South Florida.” Zagacki: “He was our local news Howard Cosell” (MIAMI HERALD, 7/5).

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