Longtime Michigan-based announcer Jack Riggs dies

Jack Riggs, a familiar voice to Detroit-area racegoers for most of his 50+ year announcing career, died Friday, Feb. 6 in Englewood, Florida. He was 79.

Riggs called Thoroughbred, harness and Greyhound races in seven states and Windsor, Ontario, Canada. In Michigan, he took the announcer’s post at Hazel Park Harness Raceway, Northville Downs and the defunct Detroit Race Course.

His racetrack announcing career began at Gulfstream Park at the age of 19. After taking time off to serve in the Navy during the Korean War, Riggs returned to the Hallandale Beach, Florida racetrack.

In the 1950s, Riggs played a key role in the first TV show broadcast from a Michigan racetrack. He was later part of the nightly replay shows from Hazel Park and Northville Downs.

Aside from his announcing duties, Riggs made appearances on TV and radio for many of the major networks, including ABC’s Wide World of Sports.

In 2003, Riggs retired from announcing and moved with his wife, Nancy, to Englewood.

Riggs was an honorary lifetime member of the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association, the highest individual honor the organization awards. He was also given the Appreciation Award from the Michigan Harness Horsemen’s Association for his lifetime of service.  

A memorial service will be held at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 508 Rivers Street, Venice, FL at 11:00 a.m. on March 27, 2009.

Sources: 
Harnessracing.com 
United States Trotting Association
Detroit Free Press

Thanks to Jeff Klenner for sending the information.

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