Tom Hammond

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For former NBA player, see Tom Hammonds. For Michigan Wolverines football player, see Thomas S. Hammond.
Tom Hammond
Born (1944-05-10) May 10, 1944 (age 70)
Lexington, Kentucky, U.S.
Education University of Kentucky
Occupation Sportscaster
Spouse(s) Sheilagh Hammond
Children David, Christopher and Ashley

Tom Hammond (born May 10, 1944 in Lexington, Kentucky) is an American sportscaster for NBC Sports television. Hammond is one of the network's staple on-air presenters, along with Bob Costas and Dan Hicks. Hammond is the lead play-by-play commentator for Lincoln Financial Sports (formerly Jefferson Pilot Sports). In 2013, he was replaced by Dan Hicks as play-by-play announcer for Notre Dame Football on NBC. He has known his color commentator on the Lincoln Financial broadcasts, Larry Conley, since junior high school. Hammond also has served as the play-by-play announcer for NBC's coverage of Track and Field at every Summer Olympics since 1992.

Biography[edit]

Early career[edit]

Hammond earned a B.S. in animal science in 1967 from the University of Kentucky, specializing in equine genetics and following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Thomas Poe Cooper, a former dean of the UK College of Agriculture and a former Acting President of UK. He began his career with WVLK Radio, where he was news and sports director. In 1970 and for the next 10 years, he was sports director for WLEX-TV. In 1980, he was named a play-by-play announcer for Southeastern Conference basketball games.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, he served as a sales announcer at the Keeneland Thoroughbred Sales and at thoroughbred horse sales in 16 other states. He is recognized as a specialist and national expert on thoroughbred pedigrees.

NBC[edit]

Hammond's tenure at NBC began in 1984, when he was named as a co-host of the inaugural Breeders' Cup alongside Dick Enberg. It was supposed to be a one-shot deal for Hammond, but network execs were so impressed, he ended up getting a long-term contract. He is the main host of the network's thoroughbred racing coverage.

Hammond's duties at NBC expanded to covering many other sports. He was the network's play-by-play voice for its coverage of Notre Dame football alongside analyst Mike Mayock. He was also the lead play-by-play man for The AFL on NBC. Hammond is also very much involved in NBC's Olympic Games coverage. At the Summer Olympics, Hammond is the chief commentator for track and field, a position he has held since the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, where his broadcast partner that year was O.J. Simpson. Hammond has since said that, prior to the O.J. Simpson murder case, he and Simpson were great friends and got along well. Hammond also commentates on other track and field events shown on NBC. At the Winter Olympics, Hammond is the main commentator for figure skating and ice dancing.[1] Hammond is sort of unique in that, unlike most of his NBC Sports colleagues, he does not live in or around the New York City area, opting to stay in his hometown of Lexington, a decision he made during his early days at NBC. Hammond isn't alone in this choice; despite being a New York native himself, Costas lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

Hammond was considered the leading play-by-play candidate when NBC won the bidding for Sunday night NFL coverage beginning with the 2006 season, but ended up losing out to former ABC announcer Al Michaels after the latter signed with NBC. Hammond teamed with Cris Collinsworth to call the secondary Saturday Wild Card playoff game for NBC each year, including Chiefs-Colts in January 2007, Redskins-Seahawks in 2008, and Falcons-Cardinals in 2009, but teamed with Joe Gibbs and Joe Theismann for the Jets-Bengals Wild Card playoff game in January 2010,[2] as Cris Collinsworth partnered with Al Michaels in the 2009 season due to the retirement of John Madden after the 2008 season. Hammond also filled in for Bryant Gumbel as play-by-play announcer on the NFL Network's December 13, 2007 game featuring the Denver Broncos and Houston Texans on Thursday Night Football, once more teaming with Collinsworth. The pair also serve as the announcing team on the Madden NFL 10 video game.

Hammond's work at NBC also includes doing play-by-play commentary for The NBA on NBC and The NFL on NBC. He also called gymnastics, figure skating, the WNBA, the Orange Bowl, and college basketball. Hammond never did call the XFL, though, as NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol said to someone who asked if Hammond would be an XFL commentator, "Anyone that needs credibility will not be doing XFL."

Health issues[edit]

Over the past few years, Hammond's health has somewhat deteriorated. On March 24, 2001, under two months before NBC was supposed to broadcast the Kentucky Derby for the very first time, he underwent an operation for diverticulitis, a disease that affects the colon. During the surgery, a portion of Hammond's colon was removed. However, even with the short amount of time between the Derby and his operation, Hammond managed to get healthy enough to make his dream of broadcasting his home state's most famous sporting event become a reality on May 5, 2001.

Hammond wasn't so lucky in October 2002, when he underwent open-heart surgery. He ended up missing the Breeders' Cup that year. Bob Costas took Hammond's place at the hosting desk. It was the only Breeders' Cup Hammond was not a part of until 2006, when ESPN had their first year of coverage.

Personal life[edit]

Hammond and his wife, Sheilagh, have three grown children, sons David and Christopher, and daughter Ashley. David has followed in his father's footsteps, becoming a radio commentator for Syracuse University's basketball and football teams, and working as a play-by-play announcer for The AFL on NBC. Tom Hammond has criticized ESPN's SportsCenter, calling it a "comedy show."[citation needed]

Honors and awards[edit]

Hammond has been awarded horse race broadcasting’s top honor, the Eclipse Award (Media category), in 1984 and 1996. He was awarded an Emmy Award for coverage of the 1992 Breeder’s Cup. He also won Emmys for sports broadcasting in 1988 (men’s and women’s basketball), 1992 (Olympics coverage of track and field and diving), and 1996 (Olympics Track and Field).

He was the first recipient of the annual Outstanding Kentuckian Award given by the A.B. Chandler Foundation, is a charter member of the Lafayette High School Hall of Fame, and has been inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, University of Kentucky Hall of Distinguished Alumni and Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame.[3]

Other jobs[edit]

Hammond announced for Madden NFL 09 (PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions only)[4] Madden NFL 10.[5] The game is notable for how he mispronounced the name of then-Oakland Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "NBC commentators surprised, shocked by judges". Sports.espn.go.com. 2002-02-11. Retrieved 2012-08-19. 
  2. ^ Raissman, Bob (2010-01-12). "For NBC, Joe Gibbs, Joe Theismann and Tom Hammond are first & wrong during Jets-Bengals telecast". Articles.nydailynews.com. Retrieved 2012-08-19. 
  3. ^ "Alumni Choose Three Nominees to Board". News.uky.edu. Retrieved 2012-08-19. 
  4. ^ "Madden NFL 09 : Madden 2009 - EA Games". Ea.com. 2009-11-12. Retrieved 2012-08-19. 
  5. ^ Alan, Scott (2010-10-03). "Madden NFL 10 - Overview". allgame. Retrieved 2012-08-19.