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Pettit was born in Chicago and moved as a small child to the Milwaukee suburb of Shorewood, Wisconsin, where he graduated from Shorewood High School. He went on to study at Northwestern University, and graduated in 1950 with a degree in television and radio journalism. He is a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. He worked at WMAW-AM and WTMJ-AM as a sports broadcaster until 1956.
Chicago sports broadcasterEdit
Pettit moved to Chicago, where he was a sports broadcaster for a variety of different teams, including the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox during the 1960s. He usually worked as the sidekick for the main TV announcer, Jack Brickhouse. His baseball broadcasting style could be described as low-key and businesslike, compared with the excitable Brickhouse. He also broadcast the Chicago Bears, when Brickhouse was busy covering the Cubs or White Sox.
Pettit is most fondly remembered by fans of the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League. His first love in sports was ice hockey, and he shone at coverage of that sport. He was the original choice to broadcast the NHL's national games on CBS-TV, but Jack Brickhouse, who ran WGN-TV's sports operations, would not release him from his contract to do the games, and the assignment went instead to Dan Kelly of the St. Louis Blues. That dispute led to his moving to WMAQ Radio in 1970. During his career, the Hawks had a number of highs and lows. Regardless, Pettit covered the games with enthusiasm and expertise. His signature catchphrase, which was even worked into the Blackhawks official fight song, "Here Come The Hawks," was "There's a shot... AND A GOAL!!!" He retired from broadcasting in 1980 to pursue other business interests and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1986.
After his broadcasting career finished, Pettit and his wife Jane returned to Wisconsin full-time. They had bought the Milwaukee Admirals of the International Hockey League (they are now in the American Hockey League) in 1976. They were instrumental in getting the Bradley Center built, which became the home of the Admirals and the National Basketball Association's Milwaukee Bucks, with whom the Pettits had minority ownership. In the early 1970's, they pursued an NHL expansion franchise for the arena and were considered a front-runner, but withdrew their bid when they felt the expansion fee was too high.