A fresh look at Jack Cristil


My Woman’s club met today and we had one of the most memorable programs in recent history.  We had the illustrious Sid Salter as guest speaker, telling about his new book on Jack Cristil, the voice of Mississippi State University for more than five decades. It’s hard for me to imagine a Saturday afternoon  in the fall without Jack’s voice in the background.


Sid told a riveting story about Jack, the son of a Jewish immigrant and compulsive gambler who met and married another Jewish immigrant who barely escape the racial cleansing in Russia during the early days of the 20th century.

She  raised Jack (born in 1925) and his five siblings on her seamstress salary in Memphis.  The only good thing Jack’s father ever did was to go out and purchase a radio in the 1930s.  That would be the pivotal moment in young Jack’s life.

As early as the age five, Jack would listen to ballgame broadcasts, then entertain his siblings, calling imaginary ballgames taking place in his head.

In his research, Sid unearthed painful parts of Jack’s past the announcer never knew. Like the fact that his grandfather was crucified on a tree because of his opposition to the Marxist forces.  Thankfully, he had smuggled his children out of the country  – Jack’s mother included.

I won’t go on about the contents of the book because it will be out November 1 and you can read it for yourself.

The 224-page hardcover edition also comes with a free compact disc of the radio veteran’s greatest Bulldog football and basketball game calls.

Best-selling author and fellow alumnus John Grisham is providing the book’s foreword. Grisham also has granted use of Jack’s performance in the audio CD of his novel “Bleachers” to be used on the audio.

You can do your Christmas shopping early by ordering the book on line – it will be $10 more in book stores.

Sid and I got  pretty tight. He showed me his original manuscript which he takes everywhere he goes except the shower.  He figures if his computer crashes he will still have the original. He showed me some of the photos of Jack that no one has seen. It didn’t surprise me that he was very handsome.

If you talk nice to me I can get Sid and Jack to sign your copy.  (It won’t cost you much, maybe a case of Reese’s peanut butter cups)

All book-sale proceeds will support the newly established Jacob S. “Jack” Cristil Scholarship in Journalism in MSU’s communication department.

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