Brighton High School loses one of its two great sportscasters, Hank Greenwald ’53

Brighton High School loses one of its two great sportscasters, Hank Greenwald ’53
Greenwald obit

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 10/24/18

Greenwald photo and activities-page0001

Howard Greenwald, Brighton High School Year Book, Crossroads, 1953 [Held at and scanned courtesy of the Brighton Memorial Library]

Brighton High School has produced two nationally renowned sportscasters, Hank Greenwald ’53 and Josh Lewin ’86, a notable distinction.  On Monday, Hank — who changed his name from Howard to Hank to honor the great Jewish Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg — passed away after a lengthy sportscasting career.

Hank called football games for his alma mater Syracuse University and also broadcasted for the former NBA team, the Syracuse Nationals. In the 1960’s he began his baseball career announcing for the now-defunct Hawaii Islanders in the Pacific Coast League.  In 1979, Hank made the big leagues with the San Francisco Giants where he called games until 1986. After a two year stint with the New York Yankees, Hank returned to the Giants in 1989 until retiring in 1996

Perhaps Hank’s most memorable call came in his first year back with the Giants.  In an emotional description of the final out in Game 5 of the 1989 National League Championship Series, sending the Giants to the World Series for the first time since 1962, Hank roared:

Twenty-seven years of waiting have come to an end! The Giants have won the pennant!

Hank’s euphoria came after he emphatically called Giants first baseman Will Clark’s pennant clinching hit in the bottom of the eighth inning:

And Clark hits it up the middle, into center-field, base hit!!! Maldonado scores! Here comes Butler…on his way to third is Thompson, the Giants lead three to one!!! And Superman has done it again!

(left) SF Giants celebrate winning the 1989 NL pennant; (right) Will Clarks's 1989 cards, Topps, Upper Deck, Fleer [from David Kramer's collection]

(left) SF Giants celebrate winning the 1989 NL pennant; (right) Will Clark’s 1989 cards, Topps, Upper Deck, Fleer [from David Kramer’s collection]

Hank’s last assignment was broadcasting the National League Division Series between the Giants and Florida Marlins.  This time the Giants lost.

Not surprisingly, Hank’s passions were emerging in high school.  In his senior year, Hank was the sports editor of the award winning student newspaper, the Trapezoid.

Greenwald Trapezoid

Hank Greenwald, sports editor, bottom left, Crossroads, 1953

Hank even played four years on the All-Trapezoid Intramural Team.

All-Trapezoid Intramural Team, Howard Greewald (down, front), Crossroads, 1953

All-Trapezoid Intramural Team, Hank Greenwald (down, front), Crossroads, 1953

As a preview of his future career, in his junior year Hank was treasurer of the Radio Club. The club did not have a signal but practiced mock broadcasts, such as performing a “Western Satire.”

Radio Club, Crossroads, 1953, Howard Greenwald was the Treasurer

Radio Club, Crossroads, 1953, Hank Greenwald was the Treasurer

Hank's family home in Brighton

Hank’s family home in Brighton

I first knew BHS’s other nationally renowned broadcaster, Josh Lewin, when he was about 10 or 11 and lived down the block. When his mother, Vicky, was out, I occasionally took care of Josh and his brother. I recall that Josh was somewhat of a musical prodigy. I would hit random keys on the piano while he was in the other room.  He re-entered and pressed the same key or sequence of keys every time. Perhaps the feat was not so hard, but to someone as tone deaf as me, it was impressive.

What I most distinctly remember was that Josh and his brother — mainly Josh — filled reams of notebooks with newspaper-like accounts and pictures of imaginary baseball games. They invented a whole league and narrated and illustrated a whole fantasy season.

Lewin Pics-page0001

top left, Josh Lewin ’86, BHS Yearbook, Crossroads, top right, Josh as a young announcer with the Rochester Red Wings (from Frontier Field Walk of Fame, 2007), bottom, Josh in 2016 after landing his dream job as the football and basketball announcer for the UCLA Bruins

Like Hank, Josh found his calling early. At age 15, Josh would sit in the stands and speak into a tape recorder as he did play-by-play commentary on that night’s Red Wings game. BHS alum Todd Offen ’85 remembers Josh speaking into that tape recorder while sitting on the bench during Brighton High School baseball games.

Hired as a Wings intern in 1986 at age 16, Josh worked on air with Jay Colley that season and became the voice of Wings by age 21.  In 2007, he was inducted into the Frontier Field Walk of Fame [2007].

After leaving Rochester in 1995, Josh broadcasted on radio and television for the Baltimore Orioles, the Chicago Cubs, the Detroit Tigers, the Texas Rangers, the New York Met and the San Diego Padres. He was one of the original play-by-play commentators for Fox Major League Baseball, calling regular season regional games from 1996-2011. He was there in 2006 when Barry Bonds hit his 714th home run.

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. 24 May 2006

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 24 May 2006

Josh has been a sideline reporter and play-by-play man for Fox NFL.  He was the radio voice of the San Diego Chargers. Ever versatile, he also did play-by-play for Fox NHL Saturday in 1998. In 2016, Josh landed what he says is a job he dreamed about since 1975: football and basketball broadcaster for the UCLA Bruins.

Like Hank, Josh’s passions shone in high school.  His interest in music can be seen in his guidance of the Brightones, a six member choral group that sang traditional barbershop and doo-wop songs.

Greenwald - Dave Cordis

(right), Josh Lewin (l) and Dave Cardis practicing doo-wop in the school hallway.

Like Hank, Josh’s time on the radio club was a preview of his career. Unlike Hank in 1953 — whose club only acted out mock radio shows — in 1986 Josh’s WRHR 90.5 broadcasted live every weekday morning and several days a week after school.

(right) Josh Lewin and Dave Cortis practicing doo-wop in the hallway. Crossroads, 1986

(second row, right) Josh Lewin,Crossroads, 1986

NOTE: After reading the story, Nathan Robfogel, Esq., who was a Board Member for the Red Wings wrote:

Hank and I were high school fraternity brothers even though I attended Monroe High School. While he was Sports Editor at BHS, I was Sports Editor for Monroe Life.  I saw him infrequently after high school. He  had a great sense of humor.


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About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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