Longtime Mississippi State radio broadcaster Jack Cristil passed away Sunday at the age of 88 after an extended battle with kidney disease and cancer.
Cristil spent 58 years behind the microphone calling Bulldog football games from and spent another 54 years eloquently describing MSU men’s basketball. A Tupelo resident since 1955, Cristil retired in 2011 due to dialysis treatments on his failing kidneys.
Cristil called 636 Bulldog football games beginning in on Sept. 19, 1953 in Memphis, Tenn., a 34-6 win over the Tigers. He made his final broadcast for the men’s basketball team on Feb. 26, 2011, a 70-69 victory in Knoxville, Tenn.
“As a lifelong Bulldog, my heart is heavy at learning of the passing of legendary MSU broadcaster Jack Cristil,” said MSU President Mark Keenum. “Jack’s deep love of this university was always evident in his words and in his deeds. He was a tireless ambassador for Mississippi State and he brought great honor and distinction to our university as one of the most revered radio announcers in American history. I join every member of the Bulldog family in extending our sincere respects and deepest sympathies to his daughters, Kay and Rebecca, and to his grandchildren, Jake and Lindsey. Surely, Jack’s remarkable life and work is now forever wrapped in Maroon and White.”
Cristil was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 2003 and won the Mississippi Sportscaster of the Year Award a record 21 times. He was awarded as the 1988 Southeastern Conference Broadcaster of the Year.
“Jack Cristil connected with generations of Bulldog fans and remains an icon for all who love the Maroon and White,” MSU Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin said. “No school’s broadcaster was as synonymous with their institution as Jack Cristil was with Mississippi State. Jack’s passing leaves a large void, but I think all Mississippians appreciated his dedication and talent, and Jack will always be the Voice of the Bulldogs.”
Cristil is survived by two daughters – Kay Cristil Clouatre of Baton Rouge, La. and Rebecca Cristil Nelson (Andrew) of Tupelo and grandchildren Jake Clouatre and Lindsey Newhall. He is also survived by two sisters, Zelda Cristil Esgro of St. Louis, MO and Miriam “Mimi” Cristil Lapides of West Palm Beach, Fla.
He was proceeded in death by his wife, Mavis, in 1988.
Funeral arrangements are incomplete at this time.
Read more on Cristil’s passing here.
The following is a transcript of Cristil’s final moments on air on Feb. 26, 2011 following the Bulldogs victory at Tennessee. You can also watch and listen to his final call here.
“I’m not going to talk basketball for the next couple of moments. I certainly would like to have a personal message with you. I have been privileged for the past 58 years to have the opportunity to represent Mississippi State University as their broadcaster for football and basketball. All good things, as they say in the trade, have to come to an end sooner or later. Please accept my sincere, my genuine, my honest and heartfelt thank-you for all the kindness you have displayed to me over these past 58 years. It has been one genuine pleasure to be associated with such a magnificent university as this with the administration, the faculty, its students and the Mississippi State family.
The reason I am stepping down at this particular point, in conference with my physicians, Dr. Martin Lee in particular of Tupelo, Miss., it’s been determined because of a deteriorating health situation in which I’m experiencing, that it is necessary of me to immediately start some kidney dialysis and in so doing, this treatment will restrict me to the point where I can not represent this university the way it should be represented. And when I can not do that, I have told many people over the years that I would step aside and now it’s time to step aside. Please, ladies and gentlemen, accept my genuine, my honest, my heartfelt thank-you for all the kindness, the courtesy and the encouragement that you have given to me and to my family over these years. The Mississippi State University family is second-to-none, and as a family, I know you understand. Thank you very much. May God’s blessings be upon you and your family. Thank you.That concludes our broadcast of Mississippi State basketball from Learfield sports.”
The university released a tribute video of Cristil Sunday night. To view it simply click the link here.