John Hancock was offering play-by-play commentary of hockey and baseball games long before he got paid for it.
Hancock joked that when he was a boy he would annoy his friends with his commentary as they played in the streets of his hometown of Cambridge, Ont.
“The kids thought I was kind of crazy, but they always thought that maybe I would probably get into this business, ” he said.
He did just that.
After 49 years as a sports broadcaster — 44 of those with CBC — he’s been honoured where his broadcasting dream began.
Hancock, who now lives in Halifax, has been the voice of sports news across the country for decades. His illustrious career has taken him around the world.
He covered nine Olympic games, including Calgary in 1988. He also covered the 1999 Pan American Games.
He said one of his career highlights was announcing the men’s and women’s figure skating at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City.
Canadians Jamie Salé and David Pelletier won gold in pairs.
“I remember how nervous I was, but how exciting and exhilarating it was,” he said of announcing at those Olympics.
One day at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta is etched in his memory. He received a call to cover the men’s 100-metre final.
“I happened to be in a nightclub that night the bomb went off in the Olympic Plaza,” said Hancock, referring to the bombing in Centennial Olympic Park that killed one person and injured more than 100.
“I remember how long that day was and how upset everybody was back home, wondering if I had been hurt or whatever. But everything was OK and in the end I was able to call that play-by-play, but I remember it being the longest day of my life — the night that Donovan Bailey won that gold medal.”
Hometown high school accolades
Hancock studied broadcasting at Conestoga College in Kitchener, Ont., and has won several awards over his career. In 2002, he was honoured by Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax for his work.
Several years ago, he was inducted into the hall of fame at his high school in Cambridge.
“I thought that was a big deal, but little did I know that the Cambridge Hall of Fame would come calling,” he said. “I was very honoured.”
Hancock is CBC Radio’s national sports host for Halifax, Sydney, N.S., Saint John, Moncton, N.B., Fredericton, Charlottetown, St. John’s, Gander, N.L., Goose Bay, N.L., Corner Brook, N.L., Ottawa, Sudbury, Ont., London, Ont., Kitchener, Ont., and Calgary.
He is also the host of Sports Talk with John Hancock, a podcast that features notable sports personalities around the world.
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