There’s not much I can say about Jack Cristil that hasn’t already been said sometime during his illustrious 58-year career. From his position behind the mic, Jack spoke to an innumerable audience that spanned multiple generations, and alumni of Mississippi A&M, Mississippi State College, and Mississippi State University. Including me. And my grandfather.
Growing up, we didn’t talk about my grandfather very much. He passed away when my mother was young, and any time the topic was approached, it ended in tears. So it was a subject we just didn’t discuss.
Most of what I know came through conversations with other members of the family, and friends whose lives he touched. The pranks he pulled when he was younger. The compassion and discipline he showed as a principal. The love he had for his alma mater, Mississippi State, and the countless hours he sat within earshot of a radio, listening to Jack Cristil and his beloved Bulldogs.
When State played on the road, I frequently listened to Jack and thought of my grandfather 30 years prior. Both of us suffering the same heartache or experiencing the same joys, following our alma mater through the same man’s eyes and smoke-charred voice. And occasionally, it made me feel close to someone I never got the opportunity to meet.
On February 26th, 2011, Tennessee’s Tobias Harris and MSU’s Wendell Lewis exchanged go-ahead dunks in the final 20 seconds of the game. After wrapping the 70-69 win in Maroon and White, Jack signed off for the last time. And gone was 58 years of Mississippi State football and basketball memories. Gone was the voice associated with so many good and bad moments throughout Mississippi State history. Gone was a man that my grandfather and I had spent so much of our lives listening to.
This certainly isn’t a eulogy - Jack’s still around and makes occasional appearances as his health allows. But when he stepped down, I - like every Bulldog - lost a loved one and a link to the past.
I’ll end with a video of my favorite Cristil call. I was at a bar in Starkville watching the game and Jack & Jim’s audio was blaring over the speakers, slightly ahead of the TV broadcast. I’ll never forget the call of the game-winning shot as we clinched an SEC Title. "Timmy goes baseline ... pumps, fakes, shoots, SCOOOORES!"
Fast forward to the 5:20 to hear Cristil's call.