The Hall of Fame broadcast career of Jack Cristil is coming to an end.
Mississippi State officials confirmed Wednesday evening that the Bulldogs 85-year-old play-by-play voice is walking away from the radio broadcast booth after nearly 60 years calling MSU athletics due to health issues.
Cristil informed Bulldog Sports Properties general manager Don Williams a few hours before Wednesday evening’s men’s basketball broadcast as State hosted LSU.
“I just told him it's a shame that you can't finish the season and even better, go through another football season but he said ‘it's been a great ride and it's time,’” Williams said.
Cristil informed his listeners Wednesday night during the postgame show that his last radio broadcast would be Mississippi State’s road contest Saturday at Tennessee.
Cristil was unavailable for comment Wednesday night due to his broadcast schedule for the pre-game and post-game show. Information about Cristil’s health status was not made public at this time.
“My wife and I were getting ready to watch the game and when we started to hear the news, we were both suddenly in shock,” Matt Wyatt, former Mississippi State quarterback and current MSU broadcaster, said.
A veteran of more than 2,000 broadcasts, Cristil was completing his 54th season of handling men’s basketball play-by-play duties after finishing his 57th season of Bulldogs football. Cristil was given the honor of Oustanding Sportscaster in Mississippi a record 21 times in his career and was the first non-athletic adminstrator/athlete to be inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1992.
In 1997, Cristil was honored by the College Football Hall of Fame as the second recipient of the coveted Chris Schenkel Award for broadcasting excellence.
“The Southeastern Conference has been really lucky to have a lot of guys like Larry Munson (Georgia play-by-play) and John Ward (Tennessee play-by-play) and the list goes on and on and Jack has outlasted all of them,” Williams said. “If you talk to him like I did tonight, he looks good and sounds good and for somebody to go out in that good of shape is a testament to him. He's also making a decision that best for him so all you can say is thank you for the years you gave us."
Mississippi State officials confirmed Cristil’s radio color analyst Jim Ellis will complete the final two games (at Arkansas and a home game vs. South Carolina) of the men’s basketball season as a solo broadcast.
Ellis has been paired with Cristil for both MSU football and men’s basketball broadcasts for the past 28 years.
Along with being the voice of Bulldogs athletics for nearly six decades, Cristil also called minor league baseball for five years and high school athletics around the state of Mississippi.
Cristil, a Memphis, Tenn., native, has handled the play-by-play duties for Mississippi State since being hired by former Mississippi State athletic director C.R. “Dudy” Noble in 1953 and has been associated with 12 head football coaches and eight different head men’s basketball coaches through his career.
“Every Mississippi State fan will tell you that his voice is as part of the game as much as the pass, catch and shot of any Bulldogs game that’s ever been played,” Wyatt said. “Certain people recently have used the word icon to describe themselves or others and really need to understand what that word means. Jack is an icon.”