Known in the sports world for being an oddsmaker extraordinaire and a fan of sports Hank “The Hammer” Goldberg passed away this last week on his 82nd birthday.
Suffering from chronic kidney disease, the cause of death was put down due to complications with his illness. Goldberg was plagued with illnesses, and his ailment meant he had to undergo regular kidney dialysis treatment. His disease led to him having his right leg amputated below his knee last year.
Goldberg’s Links to New York
Despite being born in Newark, New Jersey, Goldberg spent a lot of time in New York and around New York sports teams growing up. His father Hy worked as a sportswriter for the Newark Evening News, and quite often Hank would travel with him on assignments. He looked forward to none more so than the springtime when he would head to Florida with his father to cover spring training with the New York Yankees.
It was during this period that Goldberg served as a batboy for the Yankees and became friends with the legendary Jo DiMaggio.
He would later return to New York years later, deciding to leave his studies at Duke University to transfer to New York University where he graduated. Whilst living in New York, he found himself employment in advertising in Manhattan and also spent a period of time serving in the US Army Reserve.
His Impact on Sports Betting
Whilst for many in New York sports betting may be a relatively new subject, with online and mobile betting only having been legalized since January 2022, for Goldberg, it was a topic he knew all too well. He spent many years not just reporting on sports on TV and radio, but also as an oddsmaker, often making predictions on US sporting events.
In fact, when it came to his predictions, he wasn’t often wrong. During his time at ESPN Goldberg was .500 or better in 15 of 17 NFL seasons that he covered, and he had similar success with thoroughbred racing too. His knowledge and personality was often revered by those around him.
Longtime ESPN anchor Chris Berman had the following to say:
Hank was a bigger part of ESPN’s soul than anyone will ever know. His information made us smarter. His insight made us wiser. His friendship made us better people. Rest in peace Hammer, and thank you from all of us.
Goldberg was also a contributor in his time at ESPN on the Daily Wager, a sports betting show that ran weekly, where he would cover NFL games and racing events such as the Triple Crown. His last appearance on the show was this year back in May when he took part in a phone interview from the Kentucky Derby.
He was a big supporter of lifting restrictions based on sports betting across the whole of the US, not just in New York, believing that sports fans should have the freedom to place bets as and when they wished.
Goldberg was even considered a friend by many top sportsbooks as well, as Art Manteris, a recently retired, longtime Las Vegas bookmaker, spoke about as he recalled the last time he saw Goldberg:
I can assure you, he was no phony. The Hammer always put his money where his mouth was, and that immediately earned him a high level of respect with me. As a longtime Las Vegas bookmaker, there were few opinions I valued more than Hank’s on the NFL.
All our thoughts and well wishes at Sports Betting NY go out to the family and friends of Hank Goldberg at this sad time.