Jack Drees

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John Henry "Jack" Drees[1] was an American sportscaster who worked for ABC and CBS, as well as various stations in Chicago.

Early life and career[edit]

Drees was born on February 8, 1917 in Chicago.[1] He attended Austin High School and the University of Iowa, where he was an all-Big Ten center on the Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball team.[2] After graduating, he went to work for WJJD in Chicago as a secondary baseball play-by-play announcer to John Harrington.[3] His first day on the air was May 23, 1938.[2] In additional to baseball, Drees also called National Football League games and horse races from Sportsman's Park for WJJD and sister station WIND.[2][3] Although he had never seen a horse race prior to calling one, Drees became "the most accurate and respected horse race announcer in the country" according to Jack Brickhouse.[2]

US Navy[edit]

During World War II, Drees served 35 months in the United States Navy.[3] He served 33 months at sea as a gunnery officer on a merchant ship and rose to the rank of lieutenant.[2][4]

Los Angeles[edit]

After the war, Drees returned to WJJD and WIND, but the stations had dropped their sports coverage.[4] He later moved to Los Angeles, where he called horse races and served as Public Relations director for the Los Angeles Dons of the All-America Football Conference.[3] After the league folded in 1949, he returned to Chicago, where he called horse races and college football.[3][4]

Television[edit]

National[edit]

Drees first television role was co-hosting Pabst Blue Ribbon Bouts with Russ Hodges.[3] His television broadcast of the 1963 Sonny Liston-Floyd Patterson world heavyweight championship fight drew the largest audience in history up to that point.[2] In 1954 he was hired by ABC to announce college football games with Tom Harmon. In 1960 he was hired by CBS to call St. Louis Cardinals football games.[4] In 1967 he called Super Bowl I for the CBS Radio Network.[2] In additional to NFL games, Drees also called college football, golf, and horse races for CBS. He returned to ABC, and in 1972, hosted a 5-minute daily broadcast on the American Information Radio Network.

Chicago[edit]

During the 1960s, Drees broadcast the Illinois state high school basketball tournaments on WGN-TV. He also hosted a program on WGN-TV called "Sports Unlimited".[2] He was the play-by-play voice for Chicago White Sox telecasts on WFLD from 1968 through 1972. His broadcast partners were Dave Martin (1968), Mel Parnell (1969), Billy Pierce (1970) and Bud Kelly (19711972).[5]

Later career and retirement[edit]

In 1974 Drees and James C. Mullen published a book entitled Where Is He Now? Sports Heroes of Yesterday - Revisited. From 1977 to 1985 he worked for WKRG-TV in Mobile, Alabama.[1] In 1986 he retired to Dallas.[2]

Drees died on July 27, 1988 of cancer at his Dallas home. He was 71 years old.[2][4]

Personal life[edit]

Drees and his wife Mary were married on August 16, 1939. They had three children.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d David L. Porter, ed. (1995). Biographical Dictionary of American Sports: 1992-1995 Supplement for Baseball, Football, Basketball, and Other Sports. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 343–344. ISBN 9780313284311. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Jack Drees, Tv Sports Announcer". Chicago Tribune. July 28, 1988. Retrieved 18 May 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Patterson, Ted (2002). The Golden Voices of Baseball. Sports Publishing LLC. ISBN 9781582614984. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Patterson, Ted (2004). The Golden Voices of Football. Sports Publishing LLC. ISBN 9781582617442. 
  5. ^ All-time Broadcasters (pre-2009) – Chicago White Sox.