Longtime Giants broadcaster Hank Greenwald dies at 83
Photo: Eric Risberg / Associated Press Longtime Giants broadcaster Hank Greenwald dies at 83 1 / 13 Back to Gallery
Hank Greenwald, among the most beloved of all San Francisco Giants broadcasters, died at California Pacific Medical Center on Monday afternoon. He was 83.
Greenwald had been suffering from heart issues and kidney failure in recent months, and after an onset of bronchitis, he was taken to the hospital Saturday.
“He’d just been feeling rotten for a long time,” said his wife, Carla. “He died after valiant efforts by a fabulous medical staff.”
Greenwald is survived by Carla and their two children, Doug, 44, and Kellie, 40. Carla said Greenwald “was never interested in having any kind of memorial service. We’ll have some sort of celebration-of-life gathering later on this year.”
Known for his extensive knowledge and dry wit, Greenwald was the Giants’ lead radio announcer from 1979-86, returning in 1989 — after two season with the Yankees — through the 1996 season. He came out of retirement to do a portion of the A’s television broadcasts in 2004-05.
“Hank was a broadcasting legend throughout the Bay Area and was a huge part of the Giants throughout his 16 seasons as our play-by-play announcer,” Giants President and CEO Larry Baer said in a statement released by the team. “He was the key link to our fans listening at home and brought our game to life through the radio.
“Hank and his family continued to stay connected with the Giants following his retirement and he often could be found talking baseball or taking in a game on the broadcast level of AT&T Park. He will be deeply missed.”
Greenwald was born in Detroit, where he grew up listening to Tigers broadcasts and became so enamored with future baseball hall of famer Hank Greenberg, who shared his Jewish faith, that he changed his name from Howard to Hank. After World War II, Greenwald’s family moved to Rochester, N.Y., where he discovered a distinct brand of baseball heaven.
“Russ Hodges did the Giants’ games on radio, Red Barber did the Dodgers and Mel Allen did the Yankees,” he said. “I could also pick up the Cardinals, the White Sox and the Pirates. That began my fascination with the voices of baseball. I’d sit in my room at night and see how many games I could find on the air. It was magic. I loved the game, and read everything I could about its history.”
Greenwald graduated from Syracuse University, known for producing many greats of the broadcasting business, in 1957. Over the years, he announced games for Syracuse football and the Syracuse Nationals of the NBA. In 1964, he moved to the Bay Area to work with Bill King broadcasting for the then-San Francisco Warriors. After calling minor-league baseball for several years, Greenwald joined the Giants in 1979 to work with Lindsey Nelson, one of his broadcast idols. Hank Greenwald’s humor
The longtime Giants, Warriors and A’s broadcaster was known for his wit. Some of his memorable lines:
“Dusty Baker will lead off the ninth, and by the sound of the music — the William Tell Overture — he’ll be followed by the Lone Ranger and Tonto.”
“Three more saves (for Bruce Sutter) and he’ll tie John the Baptist.”
“They’re telling us (in St. Louis) the temperature on the field is 143 degrees. With the wind chill, it’s 140.”
Upon joining the A’s television crew: “I’ve had seven years off between starts. I should be well-rested.” His return, he said, “lends great hope to those who have been waiting for Ted Williams.”
“If Houston and Montreal stay on top, it will be the first time the National League playoffs take place entirely outside the United States.”
Quoting songwriter Cole Porter out of nowhere: “It’s a beautiful day to be at Candlestick Park. It’s delightful. It’s delectable. It’s Delino DeShields leading off for the Expos.”
“Larry Herndon seems to be bothered by insects at the plate. I don’t know what species it is. Maybe it’s an infield fly.”
By the end of his Giants tenure, in 1996, Greenwald had broadcast 2,798 consecutive major-league games.
Early in 1999, Greenwald released a book of his memoirs, “This Copyrighted Broadcast,” that included critical comments about Baer and the unpleasant behavior of Barry Bonds. After ordering some 500 books to be sold at their Dugout Stores in the Bay Area, the Giants shipped them back to the publisher, to which Greenwald responded, “Did they have a book-burning?” The relationship thawed over the years, but Greenwald never expressed regret about anything he’d written.
Broadcasting the Yankees’ games fulfilled a lifetime dream for Greenwald, who eventually grew weary of owner George Steinbrenner’s tyrannical ways. “New York baseball fans never really got a chance to know him, and that is our loss,” wrote New York Daily News media critic Bob Raissman. “The only failing broadcasting grade anyone could give Greenwald is an ‘F’ in ego. … His road should end in Cooperstown and a place in the broadcasters’ wing of the Hall of Fame.”
That honor has evaded Greenwald, although his many fans have hope for a future honor from baseball’s Hall of Fame. “If anyone belongs there, it’s Hank,” said current Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow, a pitcher on the team during Greenwald’s heyday. “I loved Hank because we had some horrendous teams back then, and he was always able to steer clear of the obvious, with his humor and knowledge, always upbeat and entertaining. He’d say, ‘You can have a bad game, but there’s no excuse for a bad broadcast.’ He always told me I should seriously think about going into broadcasting, and when I did, he taught me about preparation, the rhythm and flow of a game, respect for your craft. He was my mentor. My professor.”
Upon returning to the Giants in 1989, Greenwald was on a spring-training field with Willie Mays when The Chronicle snapped a photograph with a caption reading, “Two old Giants reunited in spring training. Willie Mays (left) and Hank Greenwald.” Noted Hank, “I said to myself if they have to identify which one Mays is, I really have made it in this business.”
Greenwald began his A’s stint in the television booth, but he did several radio broadcasts with Ken Korach, who savored the experience. “Hank was such an influential guy in the business, and he was like a father figure to me in many ways,” Korach recalled. “He had done what I aspired to do, in such a classy and dignified way. There were things he said on the air that were so exactly right, they’d stay in my mind.”
As for the Greenwald humor, “Nobody could entertain better if it was a lousy game,” Korach said. “One time Hank was filling in for Bill King on the radio, and we had a sponsor, the Valero gas company. So Hank reads the tagline —‘Valero, Gas with Vrroom! And by the way, nobody knows gas better than Bill King.’”
Giants broadcaster Jon Miller was a teenager in Hayward when Greenwald joined the Warriors’ broadcasting crew, working with King.
“You’re talking about maybe the greatest two-man booth in NBA history,” Miller said. “Hank was the color man, but Bill always let him do the third quarter. He was always the total professional, right on point, but always looking for a laugh, which I loved. One night somebody took a long jumper that hit the back of the rim and went right over the backboard. Hank goes, ‘That’s up and up and … gone. Home run.’ I’d never heard anyone do something like that, and I never forgot it.”
Bruce Jenkins is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: Twitter: @brucejenkins1 Most Popular
Trump invites young black conservatives to White House
Anthony Scaramucci spills about Trump in tell-all book
WASHINGTON – President Trump has invited hundreds of young black conservative leaders to the White House Friday to hear him speak, The Post has learned.
The president will address attendees of the first ever Young Black Leadership Summit, being put on by conservative student group, Turning Point USA.
It’s not a big surprise that Trump would take a breather from his bustling rally schedule to address the young people – he’s shown support for the group in the past – and there’s a Kanye West connection.
Charlie Kirk, Turning Point’s 25-year-old founder and president, interviewed Trump in March as part of the “Generation Next” forum, a day’s worth of programming in the Eisenhower Office Building for young conservative leaders.
And in May, the president tweeted his approval of the group’s 29-year-old Director of Communications Candace Owens.
Owens, who was gaining traction as a black YouTube star with right political leanings, wanted to hold a forum for young black Americans who were “conservative curious,” as she once was, from day one.
“So my mission was always really clear when Charlie and I met. One of the first things he asked me was, ‘What do you want to do?’ And I said, really, in plain words, ‘I’d like to lead the black revolution against the Democrat Party,’” Owens told The Post.
While Owens joined the group in November, the plan to hold a conference for young black people got a shot of dragon energy in April.
Just days before he would put on the MAGA hat and pronounce his love for Trump, rapper Kanye West tweeted , “I love the way Candace Owens thinks,” the first online suggestion that he was more Republican-leaning.
Kirk said that West’s tweet made both Owens and Turning Point more prominent.
“And kind of gave more reinforcement to the idea of a black leadership summit because during that moment we saw hundreds of blacks across the country come out and say to Candace, ‘Oh my goodness, this is an amazing thing that you’re doing, we love you, we’re afraid to voice our mind,” Kirk explained to The Post. “Candace and I wondered, ‘I wonder how many there really are?’”
Turns out there are at least 350 to 400 young black people interested in hearing Trump speak.
Donald Trump Jr. will also speak to the group Thursday night to kick-off the conference, which will include appearances from black conservatives including HUD Director Ben Carson, “Clueless” actress-turned-pundit Stacey Dash and radio show host Larry Elder, among others.
In recent decades, Republicans have fared terribly among black voters. Trump’s engagement with the community has consisted of talking up black unemployment numbers on the campaign trail and hosting high profile meet-and-greets, like the one he had with West earlier this month.
There was a bright spot in August when it looked like his approval rating among black voters had climbed up to 36 percent, but the Rasmussen poll was quickly called out as being an outlier, with both Gallup and Ipsos/Reuters surveys saying that Trump’s approval numbers with the population segment hover around 13 percent.
Owens suggested that Trump’s strong economic performance would bring black voters to the table.
And he has another asset, Owens argued.
“We need to bring you to the black community because, in my opinion, President Trump is the most marketable president in the history of all presidents to the black community because he’s funny,” she said. “They really respond well to humor and self-deprecation.”
Trump will address the youth conference at 11 a.m. in the East Room. Share this:
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