Joe Zagacki, one of Mr. Goldberg’s producers at WIOD, recalled in a one-day phone interview that “Hank had a fight with a caller – he had one of his volcanic explosions – and I said, ‘My God, you just hammered this guy. You’re “Hammering Hank Goldberg”.
The nickname stuck. After starting at ESPN in 1993, Mr. Goldberg began banging a gavel on a studio desk to express his disagreement with a colleague or his contempt for a sports personality. He called himself “Hammer”.
He first appeared on ESPN2, which was new at the time and attempted to reach younger audiences with anchors who dressed in a casual, cool style. Not Mr. Goldberg, who was certainly uncool but brought a quirky, brassy personality to the network — even if it was friendlier than his face-to-face radio demeanor.
“Hank could fit into any genre; it could fit anywhere,” said Suzy Kolber, a longtime ESPN anchor and reporter who has worked with Mr. Goldberg on ESPN2 and in Florida. “Plug it into the horse racing crowd or the ESPN2 band. It fits perfectly.
Henry Edward Goldberg was born July 4, 1940, in Newark and grew up in South Orange, NJ His mother, Sadie (Abben) Goldberg, was a homemaker; his father, Hy, was a sports columnist for The Newark Evening News. Hy Goldberg frequently took his wife and children to Yankees spring training in Florida, where young Hank befriended Joe DiMaggio, who called him Henry, Ms Goldberg said in an interview.
At 17, Mr. Goldberg went to the racetrack for the first time and won $450 when he hit the daily double at Monmouth Park in New Jersey. When he brought his winnings home, he recalls, his father told him, “Oh, you’re in trouble now.” In an interview this year with The Las Vegas Review-Journal, he added, “He knew I would never get over my love of racing.”