ABC’s dive-by-dive analyst and partner of color commentator Cynthia Potter for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics diving competitions….was the intellectually articulate Jack Whitaker….who was an American sportscaster that worked for both CBS and ABC….as he was also is a decorated veteran of World War II….who while fighting in the Normandy Campaign was wounded by an artillery strike.
He entered network sports in 1961 at CBS….where he hosted the anthology series CBS Sports Spectacular among other duties. He worked for CBS for more than two decades…..best remembered for his coverage of golf and horse racing. He covered thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown events….golf’s four major championships….the very first Super Bowl….championship boxing….the National Professional Soccer League in 1967….the North American Soccer League a year later….and Major League Baseball. He was a studio host for The NFL Today at CBS….the network’s pre-game show.
The Whitaker character, played by Gary McKillips, appears in the June 2007 ESPN Original Entertainment production Ruffian….as the film is based upon the storied 1975 match race between unbeaten filly Ruffian and the Kentucky Derby winning colt Foolish Pleasure. Ruffian broke her leg during the race and was later euthanized. The Whitaker character is shown introducing the race in the paddock area of Belmont Park in New York.
In the latter part of his career….Whitaker was moved away from play-by-play or color commentary….becoming known for his pre-game and post-game essays at major sporting events….for Whitaker was banned from covering the Masters golf tournament for CBS for five years after referring to a patron gallery at Augusta National Golf Club as a “mob” at the end of the 18-hole playoff in 1966….and was allowed to return to the telecast in 1972.
Moving to ABC in 1982….Whitaker served as a reporter for both news and sports divisions. He was a part of ABC’s sports team at the 1988 Winter Olympic Games and the 1984 Winter and Summer Olympic Games. He has also reported sports for ABC’s World News Tonight, Nightline, and 20/20.