Saturday, January 13, 2018

R.I.P.: Iconic Sportscaster Keith Jackson

Keith Jackson: October 18, 1928 – January 12, 2018
Keith Jackson, who was widely regarded as the voice of college football by several generations, died late Friday night, his family said.

He was 89, reports ESPN.

Jackson spent some 50 years calling the action in a folksy, down-to-earth manner that made him one of the most popular play-by-play personalities in the business.

"Keith Jackson is a man of great character and a legendary broadcaster," George Bodenheimer, then the president of ESPN and ABC Sports, said when Jackson retired in 2006. "For decades, his unmistakable style defined college football for millions of fans."

Jackson got his start on the radio in 1952, broadcasting Washington State games, but went on to provide the national television soundtrack for the biggest games in the most storied stadiums. His colorful expressions -- "Whoa, Nellie," and "Big Uglies," among the many -- became part of the college football lexicon.

He was credited with nicknaming the Rose Bowl "The Granddaddy of Them All" and Michigan's stadium "The Big House."

Jackson began calling college football games for ABC Sports when it acquired the broadcast rights for NCAA football in 1966. He also worked NFL and NBA games, numerous World Series, 10 Olympics and auto racing. In addition, he traveled to 31 countries for "Wide World of Sports."

Jackson announced he would retire from college football play-by-play after the 1998 season but ended up continuing with ABC Sports. He walked away for good in May 2006, telling The New York Times he was finished "forever."

Jackson was born on Oct. 18, 1928, in Georgia near the Alabama state line. He spent four years in the Marine Corps before attending Washington State and graduating with a broadcast journalism degree. He worked at the ABC affiliate in Seattle, KOMO, for 10 years, including conducting the first live sports broadcast from the Soviet Union to the United States in 1958.

The National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association named him the National Sportscaster of the Year five times, among other honors.

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