Announcer, breeder, auctioneer Carl Becker, 84, dies

Altamont, IL – Carl Becker, a 2018 inductee into the Communicators’ Corner of the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in Goshen, NY, passed away on Monday after a brief illness. He was 84.

Carl Becker died Nov. 29, 2021 at the age of 84. Photo courtesy of Karl Becker.

Carl, a native of St. Elmo, Illinois, entered the harness racing industry as a breeder, owner, and track announcer in 1964. A protégé of Hall of Famer Stan Bergstein, Carl served as track announcer for Grand Circuit meetings at various Midwestern fairs, including Springfield, DuQuoin, and Indianapolis, as well as the Fall Trots at Lexington’s Red Mile. He also worked for many of the sport’s premier auction houses as a sales announcer, including the Standardbred Horse Sales Co., P.W. Tully’s Garden State Sales Co., the Lexington Selected Sales Co., Tattersalls, and the Blooded Horse Sales Co.

A 1958 graduate of the University of Illinois, where he was named Outstanding Senior in the College of Agriculture, Carl was co-founder of both the Illini Classic and Hoosier Classic Sales Companies, and he served on the board of directors of both the Illinois Standardbred Owners’ and Breeders’ Association (ISOBA) and the Downstate Classic, Inc. He also served a stint as superintendent of speed at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield in the late 1960s.

Carl established Fair Meadow Farm in 1980 and bred the winners of $40 million over the course of the past four decades.

Carl is survived by Bonnie, his wife of 60 years, as well as sons Jon, Kurt, and Kris.

Kull Funeral Home, 114 W. Washington Ave., Altamont, is in charge of arrangements.

Memorials may be made to Christian Harness Horsemen’s Association or the donor’s choice.


Following is the bio from Becker’s induction into the Communicator’s Hall of Fame induction in 2018

Carl Becker was barely a teenager when he provided play-by-play for a summer softball league in Altamont, Ill., but at that moment he knew he wanted a career behind the microphone. He was introduced to harness racing as a kid at the Effingham County Fair and has since spent more than five decades calling horse races.

Becker graduated from the University of Illinois College of Agriculture in 1958, where he majored in agricultural education and minored in animal science, and spent five years teaching agriculture in Beecher City. In 1964 he began calling races regularly at the fairs, and served as superintendent of speed at the Illinois State Fair and on his home county fair board.

In 1964 Becker took over the announcer’s booth in Springfield from the late Hall of Famer Stan Bergstein, who had mentored the young announcer. Soon, major tracks were seeking him out to provide his insightful calls and commentary, most notably DuQuoin, Illinois, where he called the Hambletonian and World Trotting Derby, and The Red Mile in Lexington, where he announced Niatross’ historic 1:49.1 time-trial.

In addition to his work in the announcer’s booth, Becker bred horses and stood stallions at his Fair Meadow Farm adjacent to the Effingham County Fairgrounds, and has served as a pedigree reader for numerous auctions. Becker helped to transform the job of auctioneer and pedigree reader by combining his knowledge of breeding with his enthusiastic announcing style. He has worked the sport’s two major sales, Harrisburg and Lexington, as well as Garden State Sales and Blooded Horse Sales. He remains active as a pedigree reader and still calls races at the fairs.

In 2000 Carl Becker was inducted into the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association Hall of Fame.

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