Remembering Sports Betting Media Pioneer Hammerin’ Hank Goldberg

Written By Eli Hershkovich on July 6, 2022
Hank Goldberg Sports Betting

From local sports radio to the national stage on ESPN, Hammerin’ Hank Goldberg made his mark on the sports betting scene. Goldberg passed away Monday in Las Vegas on his 82nd birthday. Below we’ll remember his influence through the lens of his peers.

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The Impact of Hank Goldberg On Sports Betting

In the mid-1970s, Goldberg began carving his path as an assistant to sports betting handicapper Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder while also hosting a talk radio call-in show in South Florida, beginning at 610 WIOD before shifting to 560 WQAM. His career on the airwaves covered three decades, mixing in a dose of wagering content along the way.

The worldwide leader in sports first came calling in 1993, pinning Goldberg on both the television network and ESPN Radio. His on-air persona was born when he was gifted a mallet, hammering it down when his opinion was at odds with a colleague’s perspective.

hank goldberg tribute

Appreciating Hank Goldberg’s Sports Betting Brilliance

Chris Fallica, an ESPN sports betting analyst and the lead research producer for the eight-time Emmy Award-winning College GameDay, was introduced to Goldberg as a student at the University of Miami in 1990. Fallica, who worked in the university’s sports information department, recognized Goldberg’s influence despite their rare interactions at the time.

“Most people of this generation, whether they want to realize it or not, were inspired by him,” Fallica said. “His picks were some of the first ones on mainstream platforms. You had Jimmy ‘The Greek,’ Pete Axthelm and Hank Goldberg.

Without them breaking through, I don’t know if there is gambling talk on College GameDay, plus ‘Bear’s Board,’ and (sports betting show) Daily Wager. Everyone, these days, is capitalizing on his success and expanding it to the next level.”

Marc Hochman, whose sports radio show is broadcasted on WQAM and 790 The Ticket in South Miami, saw Goldberg’s dent through a different pair of spectacles.

When Miami native Dan Le Batard launched “The Dan Le Batard with Stugotz” on The Ticket in 2004, Hochman was brought on board as the executive producer. The two aimed to generate a fresh approach to sports radio, differentiating the show from Goldberg’s footprint.

But Hochman noticed that Goldberg’s philosophy exhibited more foresight than Le Batard or any other contemporary brand — given how sports betting is intertwined in the modern age of broadcasting.

“(Sports betting)’s a driving force on radio for not only content but also for advertising,” Hochman said. “When we came into the market and said ‘There’s a dinosaur, and we’re the new breed of sports talk hosts,’ I look at it now and think Hank was a visionary.”

hank goldberg tweet

Don’t Underestimate A Longshot

Fallica and Goldberg’s relationship thickened when ESPN earned the rights to undercard horse races in the late 1990s, often discussing about their handicapping strategies. In 2005, the network swiped the rights to the Belmont Stakes before handing it back over to NBC in 2011.

One year prior to the initial acquisition, Fallica attended The Belmont Stakes, in which Goldberg was also present. Even though much of the betting crowd possessed wagers — in some fashion — on Smarty Jones (1-5 odds), the two each held tickets on Birdstone. Fallica bellowed with excitement as the 36-1 longshot passed the hefty favorite inside the last pole to cash their bets.

“I went up to the (betting) window, and Hank’s right there for a celebratory high five,” Fallica said. “We’re both getting our pictures taken for these IRS-like shots after hitting a big score. He actually needed a little bit of company on his way out to his car since he cleared quite a bit (of money) that day.”

Despite their conversations lessening over the years because of their respective broadcasting schedules, Fallica noted that he’ll never forget how much Hank Goldberg relished the evolution of sports betting.

“It was humbling to know that a legend in this world would sometimes use your opinion to help formulate his own opinion,” Fallica said.

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Eli Hershkovich Avatar
Written by
Eli Hershkovich

Eli Hershkovich is a lead sports betting writer with TheLines and Catena Media, formerly with Audacy and The Action Network. His goal is to provide you with data and information to lead you to winning bets. Eli is an avid college basketball gambler — among many other sports — and still hasn't forgiven Virginia for ruining his 2018-2019 Texas Tech futures.

View all posts by Eli Hershkovich