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L E’s Stories – “From High School Football To Sportscasters Hall Of Fame” – The Story Of Chris Schenkel

Chris Schenkel (August 21, 1923 – September 11, 2005) was an American sportscaster of the highest order…..who was “behind the mike” for the better part of 5 decades from 1952 through 2000….and over the course of that tenure, he called play-by-play for numerous sports on television and radio…. while  becoming known for his smooth delivery and baritone voice….as Bone Daddy, the original Sportsphile, tells it….“Since Pops, Lil Wally, Runt and I listened to many radio broadcasts of sporting events in the 1950’s….that is where we heard Chris Schenkel for the 1st time”….so, Schenkel dates back to 1952 in Bone Daddy’s career as a sports enthusiast, athlete, fan, sports bar owner and 1st accredited Sportsphile…..cuz “ole smooth talking Chris” rightfully deserves this L E’s Stories showcase of a sportscasting pioneer and legend known as Chris Schenkel.                                                                                             

Sportscasters – 1942 To 1999 – Special Film – The Career Of Legendary Sportscaster Chris Schenkel

Schenkel was born on August 21, 1923 to second-generation immigrant parents on their farm in Bippus, Indiana….as he was one of 6 children…..who began his broadcasting career at radio station WBAA…..while studying for a pre-med degree at Purdue University…..who served in the U.S. Army during World War II and the Korean War….then he worked in radio for a time at WLBC in Muncie, Indiana.  After moving to Providence, Rhode Island….he got into announcing Harvard University football games in 1947…..and for the next 6 years, he did local radio…..while calling the thoroughbred horse races at Narragansett Park.                                                                                                                                                  

NCAA Football – 1966 – Notre Dame Vs Michigan State – 2nd Half – With Chris Schenkel + Bud Wilkinson

In 1952, Schenkel was hired by the DuMont Television Network….for which he broadcast New York Giants football…. and hosted DuMont’s Boxing From Eastern Parkway from 1953 and 1954….and Boxing From St. Nicholas Arena from 1954 thru 56…. after replacing Dennis James as the network’s primary boxing announcer.  Schenkel was at the microphone for DuMont’s last broadcast….which also was its only color telecast of a high school football championship game held on Thanksgiving in 1957.                        

Boxing – 1956 – DuMont Network – Boxing From St Nicholas Arena – With Chris Schenkel

 

NFL – 1959 – New York Giants Season Highlights – Narrated By Chris Schenkel

In 1956, with DuMont closed down shop on the network television business….when Schenkel moved to CBS Sports….where he continued to call Giants games….along with boxing, Triple Crown horse racing and The Masters golf tournament….plus various  other events.  Along with Chuck Thompson, Schenkel called the 1958 NFL Championship Game for NBC….as he was the voice-over talent for the first NFL Films production ever made….which was about the 1962 NFL Championship Game between the Green Bay Packers and the New York Giants.                                                                                                                                                                    

NFL – 1962 – NFL Championship Game Highlights – Green Bay Packers Vs New York Giants – Narrated By Chris Schenkel

 

NFL – 1958 – NFL Championship Game Highlights – Baltimore Colts Vs N Y Giants – “The Greatest Game Ever Played” – With Chris Schenkel

ABC Sports hired Schenkel in 1965….and in his ABC career that followed, he broadcast college footbal….MLB (Major League Baseball)….NBA basketball….professional golf…. major tennis tournaments ….boxing….auto racing…. and the Summer and Winter Olympic Games….but he became widely known for covering professional bowling, mainly for the Professional Bowlers Association (with the program becoming known as the Professional Bowlers Tour)….which he covered from the early 1960’s until 1997….as it became one of ABC’s signature sports for Saturday afternoons. His broadcast partners on the PBA telecasts included Billy Welu through 1974…. and Nelson “Bo” Burton, Jr. from 1975 to 1997…..when Schenkel and his broadcast team provided exciting and colorful coverage to a sport not typically considered attractive to a television audience….and the truth be known, from the late 1960’s to the early 1980’s, Pro Bowlers Tour typically outdrew college football and college basketball in the ratings…..as  many viewers considered it a weekly tradition to watch bowling on Saturday afternoons…. which was a lead-in to extremely popular ground-breaking anthology show, ABC’s Wide World of Sports.                                         

Boxing – 1957 – Special – Sugar Ray Robinson In Training For Fight With Carmen Basilio – With Interview By Chris Schenkel

 

NBA – 1965 – NBA Finals Game 1 Highlights – Boston Celtics Vs Los Angeles Lakers – With Chris Schenkel

 

Golf – 1973 – US Open Final Round Highlights – As Johnny Miller Wins – With Chris Schenkel On The Call

 

Tennis – 1976 – US Open Men’s Finals Highlights – Rod Laver Vs Bjorn Borg – With Pancho Gonzales + Chris Schenkel On The Call

 

Olympics – 1972 – Munich Games – Men’s Basketball Finals Highlights (Audio) – USA vs USSR – With Frank Gifford + Chris Schenkel On The Call

During his 36 years on The Professional Bowlers Tour, there were occasions when ABC sent Schenkel away to cover other assignments….and strangely enough, he was away on assignment for the 1st three of the PBA’s televised 300 games. Given that Schenkel was in the broadcast booth for three televised 299 games in the 1970’s….when light-hearted conversation circulated among the PBA faithful that Schenkel was a “curse” for anyone with a chance to shoot a perfect game on television…..as he would eventually call a televised 300 game on January 31, 1987….when Houstonian Pete McCordic bowled one in the 1st match of the Greater Los Angeles Open…..when Schenkel told McCordic it was a great moment for him, since he was away all the other times…..and the truth be told, Schenkel would be in the ABC booth for five more televised 300 games….. plus, Schenkel was also away the 1st time the 7-10 split was converted on television by Mark Roth.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Bowling – 1981 – Pro Bowlers Tour Special – Mark Roth Makes 1st 7 – 10 Split Pick-Up In 19 Years Of Televised Events – With Chris Schenkel

Sportscasters – 1942 To 1997 – Special Film – “Chris Schenkel Tribute And Goodbye”                                                                                                            

In 1971, Statesboro, Georgia businessman Charlie Robbins honored Schenkel by developing in his name, a scholarship for golf at Georgia Southern University…..and calling the great classic, “Chris Schenkel Intercollegiate Golf Tournament”….which featured some of the nation’s top college golf teams…..which was where Schenkel had attended college (then named Georgia Teacher’s College from 1930 to 1958)….while in the service near Statesboro during WW II.  There are a few books in the School’s library today with Schenkel’s signed name listed as the one checking out the library book. The Schenkel Tournament ended after the 1989 event….when it was discovered that the golf club hosting the tournament was all-white….but the tournament was revived in 1999 as the E-Z-Go Schenkel Invitational….as this college event is still regarded as one of golf’s premier intercollegiate events in the East in 2020.                                                                                                                                                                       

Golf – 1978 – Highlights – PGA Championship – 3rd Round – Hole 17 – With Chris Schenkel + Dave Marr

Chris Schenkel also did play-by-play with Bud Wilkinson providing color commentary for the legendary 1969 Texas vs. Arkansas football game….which is still known as the “Game of the Century”….while culminating the first 100 years of College Football in 1969. The game, also known as the “Big Shootout”, garnered a share of 52.1, meaning that more than one half of the televisions in the United States were tuned in…..of which you could “bet the ranch” that Pops, Lil Wally, Bone Daddy and Runt were all watching….cuz by 1969, all of their blood was “burnt orange”.  Years later, Schenkel said “it was the most exciting, most important college football game I ever televised”….who went on to broadcast many more huge games….including the celebrated Nebraska vs. Oklahoma match on Thanksgiving Day 1971….as well as the Sugar Bowl national championship showdown between Notre Dame vs. Alabama on New Year’s Eve 1973….with Wilkinson and Howard Cosell, in a rare college football appearance.  Schenkel was replaced by Keith Jackson as ABC’s lead play-by-play man for college football telecasts in 1974…. but continued to call college football games for several more years.  Also in 1971, Schenkel, a longtime friend of Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Tony Hulman, was a passenger in the pace car for that year’s Indianapolis 500 race…..as astronaut John Glenn and Hulman were also in the car when its driver, Indianapolis-area Dodge dealer Eldon Palmer, crashed the 1971 Dodge Challenger convertible into a camera platform at the beginning of the race.                                                                                                        

NCAA Football – 1973 Sugar Bowl Highlights – Notre Dame Vs Alabama – With Howard Cosell + Chris Schenkel

 

NCAA Football – 1969 – Special Highlights – “Game Of The Century” – # 1 Texas Longhorns Vs # 2 Arkansas Razorbacks – With Chris Schenkel + Bud Wilkinson

 

NCAA Football – 1969 – “Game Of The Century” Halftime Interview Of President Nixon By Chris Schenkel – During #1 Texas Vs # 2 Arkansas

NCAA Football – 2012 – Special Interview With Chris Schenkel – On The Most Important Football Game I Ever Called – 1969 # 1 Texas Vs # 2 Arkansas

He was the spokesman for Owens-Illinois’ “Good Taste of Beer” advertising campaign which began in 1975 and continued through the remainder of the decade….plus, in 1975, he received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement….then in 1976, Schenkel was inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame in the “Meritorious Service” category….and in 1988 was inducted into the American Bowling Congress (now United States Bowling Congress) Hall of Fame….which was also in the “Meritorious Service” category.                                                                                                                                                                   

TV Ad – 1975 – Chris Schenkel For “The Good Taste Of Beer”                                                                                

Chris Schenkel was inducted in 1981 in the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame…..as he was named National Sportscaster of the Year four times…. and in 1992 received a lifetime achievement Emmy Award…..while also in 1992, the Pro Football Hall of Fame presented Schenkel with its Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award…..and in 1996, the National Football Foundation created an award in his honor, given annually to distinctive individuals in broadcasting with ties to a university…..then in 1999, he received the Jim Thorpe Lifetime Achievement Award…..when in 1999, the Professional Bowlers Association named the Player of the Year award after Chris Schenkel.  In a 2009 vote by its members, the American Sportscasters Association ranked Schenkel 25th on its list of the Top 50 Sportscasters of All-Time.  In a 2010 podcast, comedian Chris Hardwick (son of former pro-bowler Billy Hardwick) claimed he was named after Schenkel.                                                                                                                                        

Sportscasters – 1988 – ABC Sports Special – Chris Schenkel Tribute – With ABC Hall Of Fame Induction Speech

Schenkel appeared (along with Bo Burton) as the bowling announcers in the final match in the 1979 movie Dreamer.  Schenkel appeared as himself in the 1996 film Kingpin. He played the role of play-by-play announcer in the final match between characters Ernie McCracken and Roy Munson.  Another appearance was in the 1994 film Greedy. He played himself as an announcer of a bowling tournament early in the movie.  Schenkel’s voice can be heard in the “Daisy” ad for Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1964 U.S. presidential election campaign.  Schenkel is referenced in the 1973 Cheech & Chong song “Basketball Jones featuring Tyrone Shoelaces”.   

Music – 1973 – Cheech And Chong – “Basketball Jones featuring Tyrone Shoelaces” – Including Chris Schenkel Behind The Mike

When a sports fan considers the greatest sportscasters of all time….a great number of the names that appear on that list come from the Golden Age of Sports….which was an era that encompassed the 1950’s throughout the 1990’s….for this was the time in the history of professional sports that each and every viable professional sport found its way to a TV contract with a significant television network….for this was an era that showcased such legendary sportscasters as Mel Allen, Red Barber, Vin Scully, Curt Gowdy, Howard Cosell, Jim McKay, Keith Jackson, Dick Enberg, Al Michaeils, Bob Costas, Jack Buck, Harry Caray, Chick Hearn, Marty Glickman, Jim Nantz, Jack Whitaker, Lindsey Nelson, Vern Lundquist, John Madden, Chris Berman, Harry Kalas, Pat Summerall, Brent Musberger, Jim Lampley and of  course, Chris Shenkel….for this was the “heyday of sports” and the age of legendary sportscasters who have left a lasting impression on the hearts and souls of millions of sports fan….including Pops, Lil Wally, Bone Daddy and Runt…who all say to Chris Schenkel….Thanks for the Memories.                                                                         

Sportscasters – 1997 – PBA Bowling Special – Chris Schenkel’s Final PBA Broadcast After 36 Years Behind The Mike

 

Bowling – 1986 – Special – Chris Schenkel’s 300 Game Bowling Highlights Of Jack Biondolillo (1967) + John Guenther (1969) + Jim Stefanich (1974)

 

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