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Christopher Eugene Schenkel
Born August 21, 1923(1923-08-21)
Bippus, Indiana
Died September 11, 2005 (aged 82)
Fort Wayne, Indiana
Occupation Sportscaster
Spouse(s) Fran Paige (m. 1955–2005) «start: (1955)–end+1: (2006)»"Marriage: Fran Paige to Chris Schenkel" Location: (linkback:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Schenkel), his death
Children Christina, Teddy, and Johnny

Christopher Eugene "Chris" Schenkel (August 21, 1923 – September 11, 2005) was an American sportscaster. Over the course of five decades he called play-by-play for numerous sports on television and radio, becoming known for his smooth delivery and baritone voice.

Contents

Biography

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Early life and career

Schenkel began his broadcasting career at radio station WBAA while studying for a premedical degree at Purdue University. He worked for a time at WLBC in Muncie, Indiana.[1] After military service in World War II, he resumed sportcasting in Providence, Rhode Island; in 1947 he called the first American football game ever broadcast on television (a Harvard-Army contest).

In 1952, Schenkel was hired by the DuMont network, for which he broadcast New York Giants football; in 1956 he went to CBS, where he continued to call Giants games, along with boxing, the Triple Crown horse racing, and The Masters golf tournament, among other events. Along with Chuck Thompson, Schenkel called the 1958 NFL Championship Game for NBC. He was the voiceover talent for the very first NFL Films production ever made, the 1962 NFL Championship Game between the Green Bay Packers and the New York Giants.

ABC Sports

ABC Sports hired Schenkel in 1965, and there he broadcast college football, Major League Baseball, NBA basketball, golf and tennis tournaments, boxing, auto racing, and the Summer and Winter Olympic Games. He also had a long-term assignment covering professional bowling, mainly for the Professional Bowlers Association (also known as the Pro Bowlers Tour). He covered bowling from the early 1960s 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. (1975–97).

During his 36 years on The Professional Bowlers Tour, there were occasions when ABC sent Schenkel away to cover other assignments. Strangely, he was away on assignment for the first four of the PBA's televised 300 games. He would eventually witness a 300 game on January 31, 1987 when Houstonian Pete McCordic bowled one in the first match of the Greater Los Angeles Open. Chris told McCordic it was a great moment for him, since he was away all the other times. Chris would witness and call five more televised 300 games.

Schenkel's straightforward, low-key approach contrasted with the distinctive flair of fellow ABC broadcasters such as Jim McKay, Keith Jackson and Howard Cosell. This, combined with his high visibility (as with his similarly low-key and highly visible NBC counterpart Curt Gowdy), inevitably led to unfavorable comparisons, and sometimes borderline ridicule. An example occurred near the end of the Cheech and Chong parody song, "Basketball Jones", in which the singer, "Tyrone Shoelaces", exhorted the crowd (in a classic comic triple), "Bill Russell, sing along with us! Chick Hearn, sing along! Chris Schenkel... don't say nothin'!"

Contrary to current popular belief, Chris Schenkel, not Jim McKay, anchored ABC's prime time coverage of the ill-fated 1972 Summer Olympics. When the terrorist attacks (otherwise known as the Munich Massacre) occurred, Schenkel was asleep after hosting the previous night's coverage live from Munich from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. local time. McKay, who was on his way to the Stadium for track and field coverage, was told to return to the ABC studio to report on the situation unfolding at the Olympic Village. Schenkel returned to anchor Olympic coverage after the Games resumed.

Honors

In 1971, Statesboro, Georgia businessman Charlie Robbins honored Schenkel by developing in his name a scholarship for golf at Georgia Southern University and developed the Chris Schenkel Intercollegiate Golf Tournament, featuring some of the nation's top college golf teams. The tournament ended after the 1989 because of concerns after it was discovered the golf club hosting the tournament was all white, but was revived in 1999 as the E-Z-Go Schenkel Invitational. The tournament is regarded as one of college golf's premier intercollegiate tournament in the East.

Schenkel was named National Sportscaster of the Year four times, and in 1992 he received a lifetime achievement Emmy. Also in 1992, the Pro Football Hall of Fame presented Schenkel with its Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award. In 1999, he received the Jim Thorpe Lifetime Achievement Award.

In 1999, the Professional Bowlers Association named the Player of the Year award after 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.[2]

Personal

He was married to former dancer and modeler, Fran Page.

Schenkel had three children, Christina, Teddy, and Johnny. He also has three grandchildren, Christopher, Michael, and Katie.

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. 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 section of bleachers at the beginning of the race. Someone had moved the flag Palmer had positioned as a braking reference point, leading to the incident that injured twenty-two people, mostly photographers. Schenkel and the car's other occupants were not seriously injured.

Death

Schenkel died of emphysema in 2005 at the age of 82.

Other appearances

Mr. 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 starring Michael J. Fox and Kirk Douglas, Greedy. He played himself as an announcer of a bowling tournament early in the movie.

Schenkel's voice can be heard on the controversial "Daisy" ad.

In the song "Basketball Jones" by Cheech and Chong, Schenkel is called out in the following lyric: "Chris Schenkel, don't sing nothin'" after Cheech implores Chick Hearn and Bill Russell to sing along.

External links

References

  1. ^ Chris Schenkel
  2. ^ "Chris Schenkel named 25th greatest sportscaster of all-time." Article at www.pba.com, January 15, 2009.
Preceded by
Charlie Brockman
Television voice of the
Indianapolis 500

1966
Succeeded by
Jim McKay
Preceded by
Bob Wolff
Play-by-Play announcer, NBA Finals
19661971 (with Bob Wolff in 1966 and 1969)
Succeeded by
Keith Jackson
Preceded by
Bill Henry
American television prime time anchor, Summer Olympic Games
19681972
Succeeded by
Jim McKay
Preceded by
Jim McKay
American television prime time anchor, Winter Olympic Games
1968
Succeeded by
Curt Gowdy

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