Jack Goldberg: the man, the myth, the legend

Published 4:56 pm Tuesday, November 9, 2021

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I can’t remember the trivia question, but I do recall the first time I had the pleasure to meet Jack Goldberg.

It was 1973 during my sophomore year at then Chowan College when I was either between classes or taking a lunch break – perhaps at either Walter’s Grill, The Heritage Drive-In, or at Rich’s Supermarket (where they had a grill in the back of the store that fixed a pretty good hamburger). Somewhere along the way – while listening to the radio in my car – I heard the DJ at Murfreesboro’s WWDR asked an on-air trivia question that I knew the answer.

Well, back then we didn’t have cell phones to answer such questions. So, in order to win, you had to be the first person to actually drive to the radio station where you would give your answer.

I remember the DJ as Jack Daniels. I had never met him before….only knew him by his voice on the radio. I arrived in the parking lot at the radio station, got out of my car and went to the door of the station. It was locked. I banged on the door and this skinny guy with long hair cracked it open very slightly. I gave him my answer to the trivia question….he said I was right and told me to wait outside while he went to get my prize. It was an album (the old vinyl type) by a band I never heard of. He handed it to me and closed the door.

Gee, that was an odd meeting. Didn’t think for a moment that I’d ever see that guy again.

However, as it turned out, we became friends for life.

Jack Goldberg (Jack Daniels was his radio personality) took his rightful place in the Chowan University / Jim Garrison Sports Hall of Fame this past Saturday. The long hair is long gone, but his love for Chowan athletics is still in his heart.

He was joined in the Hall of Fame class of 2021 by four other worthy inductees: Dr. Scott Colclough (Coach/Department Chair), Nick Hagler (Baseball), Kara Jackson (Women’s Basketball), and Frank Rose (Patron).

At some point after we first met, Jack, a native of Newport News, became the Sports Director at WWDR (it later changed to WDLZ and is now known as “The Earl”) where he would give daily reports on local high school and collegiate athletics. He also was the play-by-play announcer for Murfreesboro High School football.

When I moved back home from Raleigh in 1983 and rekindled my career here at the News-Herald, which back then I covered high school sports and Chowan athletics part-time in addition to my full-time job in printing production, Jack and I forged a professional relationship. We shared a common bond to promote local athletes and their coaches. He and I would share information that was helpful to our respective local coverage of high school and Chowan athletics.

By then, Jack was broadcasting a weekly, 30-minute program entitled Chowan Sports In Perspective. He would interview Chowan players and members of the coaching staff. He was also the “Voice of the Braves” by broadcasting their football and men’s basketball games for many years.

We both made career moves in 1989. I became Sports Editor here at the News-Herald and Jack accepted the job at Chowan as Sports Information Director, assistant to Athletic Director, director of the Hawks Athletic Center, and Executive Secretary of the Braves Club. I spent a lot of time in his office, getting the “lowdown” on what was happening at Chowan and we would also gather there after home games where I was given the game stats and also used the opportunity to interview the coaches and players. I recall Jack constantly on the phone with other media outlets to share the news of another big win by the Braves.

In 1990, Jack did something that startled me. He took the job as head coach of Chowan’s softball team. As much as I knew about him at that time, I was unaware of any previous coaching experience. But what happened after that removed any and all doubt I may have had about that career change.

As coach, he helped transition the team from the ranks of a junior college to four year NCAA DIII status. Jack was named Region 10 Coach of the Year in Chowan’s final year as a JUCO. His teams averaged over 25 wins a season while maintaining the highest GPA of all programs for five consecutive years. The 1995 squad established a new school winning percentage with a 36-9 record, a mark that still stands today. He never backed down from a challenge…always scheduling tough, nationally-ranked opponents. Win, lose or draw, his program was respected all across the nation.

Jack was the ultimate recruiter. He was able to bring top-notch talent to Murfreesboro. During his time as head softball coach, Jack proudly watched as several of his players were selected All-Region and All-American. Three of those attended Saturday’s Hall of Fame game in Murfreesboro to pay respect to their former coach. One drove from Florida to be there.

Five of his former players are members of the Sports Hall of Fame at Chowan.

Even after leaving Chowan, Jack’s success as a softball coach followed. He worked for the Roanoke Rapids Graded School District at Chaloner Middle School where he coached softball. The Lady Yellow Jackets won 14 consecutive conference championships and had a spotless 108-0 record to show for their efforts.

On Saturday, Jack, joined by his wife, Myrna, accepted his Hall of Fame plaque from Chowan President Dr. Kirk Peterson. I was where I needed to be at that exact moment….standing on the same field in front of Jack to snap the photo when he rightly earned his spot in the annals of Chowan University history.

Congratulations, my friend; this was a well-deserved and long overdue award. I wish that somewhere in the future that you’ll be the subject of a trivia question. I hope I’m alive to hear it and provide the answer.

Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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