What a grand tribute from Jim Nantz to his friend and mentor Jack Whitaker.
The Athletic kindly made this available to non-subscribers and it’s well worth your time, even if you are of a vintage that does not recall the days of Whitaker and the ABC golf team.
He first met Whitaker at Pebble Beach when his roommate that week, Bob Drum—oh that Chirkinian humor!—took Nantz down to Club XIX for a nightcap. It was a somber day after the space shuttle Challenger had exploded earlier in the day:
Upon entering the restaurant, there was Jack Whitaker, leaning against the bar, a martini filled to the top, perfectly poured. He had on a tweed jacket with a turtleneck underneath and he was just the personification of elegance, a man well-traveled. I honestly could not believe I was shaking his hand, feeling as though I had just been introduced to Ernest Hemingway.
His short essays often concluded the biggest sporting events around the world, and he had a unique ability to blend peak thought with context in perfect prose. Though there were no words that could soften the shocking horror of the day, Jack, with his gift, was somehow able to bring some solace and perspective to an otherwise unexplainable event.
The Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame tribute piece has now been added to YouTube: