Hank Goldberg was a sports announcer in Miami for many years. He became well-known across the country as a handicapper and reporter for horse racing and professional football on ABC and ESPN. He died on his 82nd birthday in Las Vegas, where he had lived for the past four years. He had been sick for a long time.
Goldberg, whose nickname is “Hammer,” kept making picks for ESPN2 and CBS Sportsline right up until the most recent Triple Crown.
Goldberg was first introduced to sports journalism by his father, Hy, who wrote a column for the Newark Evening News. Goldberg has always been a good storyteller. But it took Goldberg a while to decide that was what he wanted to do for a living.
After Goldberg graduated from Duke University, he worked in advertising, first in New York and then in Florida. His old friend Larry King suggested Goldberg for a job hosting a radio show, and Goldberg got the job. He made a little extra money by writing a betting column for Jimmy “the Greek” Snyder when Snyder was a regular on pre-game studio shows for NFL games on CBS.
Goldberg found his voice in radio and television. He ended up being a regular drive-time radio host, and he was also on Miami’s local sports TV. Up until 1992, he was the radio color commentator for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. During his time in Florida, he got to know important TV people like director Bob Fishman and producer Mike Pearl, who are both in the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
Goldberg was then hired by ESPN to cover the NFL. He regularly appeared on ESPN’s most popular show, “SportsCenter,” and he had sources on every team. He added horse racing to what he did. He worked for ABC and ESPN for more than 20 years on racing shows like the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup.
Goldberg lived in Miami for more than 40 years and became a well-known celebrity there. When he went to Joe’s Stone Crab, the two-hour wait would magically disappear, and Goldberg wouldn’t even have to stop walking to get to his table, just like the late Daily Racing Form columnist Joe Hirsch did.
Even though he lived on the East Coast, Goldberg started going to Del Mar every summer in the mid-1990s. He would stay there for almost two weeks, playing golf in the morning and betting on horses in the afternoon.
There, his friends would throw a party for him for more than 20 years. It was called the “Hank Goldberg Burger Bash.” Goldberg was so determined to go to Del Mar that even though he had to get dialysis, he still found a place in Southern California where he could stay for two weeks.
Goldberg was friends with a number of well-known athletes for a long time. He first met Joe DiMaggio when he was a child through his father. While he was in Miami, he got to know a lot of the Dolphins, especially coach Don Shula.
Al Davis, the late owner of the NFL team the Raiders, was one of his best friends. Davis’s son Mark, who now owns the Raiders, stayed close to Goldberg, especially after they both moved to Las Vegas.
He had similar experiences with people in the racing world. Even though he was sick and stuck in Las Vegas this past spring, Goldberg reached out to a number of trainers of horses that could run in the Kentucky Derby to learn more. Over the years, he became close with Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito. Before he moved to Nevada, Goldberg was a co-owner of several horses with Zito.
In the 2010 movie “Secretariat,” Goldberg was one of six sports reporters who were cast as extras and played reporters.
Liz, Goldberg’s younger sister, lives on. When Goldberg moved to Las Vegas, where she already lived, she helped take care of him.
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