He initially cut his teeth in radio while in college, got drafted into the Army and worked for the Armed Forces Network while stationed in the Panama Canal Zone – “There was a price on our heads,” he recalled – and ultimately parachuted into the Kansas City media market.

And, then, Jack Harry never left, becoming a fixture in sports broadcasting in one of the country’s best sports cities. Which is the Cliff’s Notes version. After all, he befriended Hank Stram (MSHOF Legend 2004), Whitey Herzog (MSHOF Legend 2008) and some of the city’s biggest sports stars at a time when sports reporters and those they covered actually could cultivate friendships.

Overall, Harry covered Kansas City-area sports for 45 years, serving as Sports Director at three television stations (WDAF-TV, KCTV-TV and KSHB-TV), hosting shows on Sports Radio 810 and, thanks to two women news directors reviving his career, retired on his terms in the late 2000s. Which is why the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame proudly inducted Harry with the Class of 2020.

“I knew from the get-go that I would be a broadcaster,” Harry said. “I grew up on a farm, 240 acres, and we had nothing. … I used to pick up rocks on the gravel road and get a slat from the picket fence and hit them like a baseball while ‘calling the game.’”

In Kansas City, Harry was a play-by-play announcer, served as a sports analyst and covered numerous World Series games, Final Fours and PGA events. He also hosted the Kansas City Chiefs postgame show.

Many saw him as the old-school, tell-it-like-it-is sports director. And he was. But he also used his celebrity well, helping Tom Watson (MSHOF 2014) to promote the success of the Children’s Mercy Hospital Golf Classic for more than 20 years, with the tournament raising more than $6 million for ill children.

It all started at Pittsfield High School in Illinois and Southern Illinois University as Harry broke into radio, mostly “spinning records,” as he put it.

From 1964 to 1967, Harry served in the Army, working for the Armed Forces Network, including two years in Panama. There, despite the constant threat of rioters, Harry would be flown over the Isthmus and to a nearby ballpark, where he called baseball games on radio after handling the 6 o’clock news.

He arrived in Kansas City in the summer of 1970 and what a run it was, with 27 years at KCTV. Eventually, it led Harry to hosting the Hank Stram Show and the two became friends.

“He was a great man,” Harry said. “There was a time when he came back to town, and I mic’d him up for a TV story. So we’re walking downtown, and people still recognized him. They were honking and he’d waive back.”

Harry also cherished Royals postseason trips where he hung out with Herzog poolside on off-days.

And he still laughs about a 1970s story on the Chiefs not making groundskeeper George Toma (MSHOF 2016) available for comment about artificial turf.

Harry took a TV crew to the Chiefs’ headquarters on 63rd street and refused to leave, saying the city owned the building anyway. In fact, the incident was noted as part of a larger story on TV media in the June 1972 issue of Sports Illustrated.

“Maybe I pushed the button a little,” Harry said, laughing.

Harry credits many for his success, including Debbie Bush, who as the news director in 2001 hired Harry to boost the ratings of a start-up station, KSHB, by insisting he offer commentary and installing him as host of a prime-time sports show. He retired in 2015.

“She resuscitated my career,” Harry said. “It was incredible. She gave me 100 percent of everything we needed to be successful. And when Peggy Phillips came in as news director, she and I also hit it off.”

The support of his wife, Nancy, also was significant. They are parents to adult children Gina, Angie, Laura, Kelsey and Tyler and 13 grandchildren.

“My wife had to raise the kids since I was doing the 10 o’clock news,” Harry said.

Among honors was the Joe McGuff Journalist of the Year and the 2009 Diversity Advocate in Sports from a local chapter of the NAACP. The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences honored him with a Silver Circle award.

“You can’t give up,” Harry said. “When you get knocked down, you try again. That’s why this honor means something a lot to me.”