Bill Schonely

 

 

 

 

Radio Play-by-Play

  • Seattle Americans:  1957-58
  • Seattle Totems:  1958-69




Bill Schonely was the first man to do radio play-by-play for Seattle hockey.  He started working at KOMO radio in 1955, and his duties included play-by-play for hyrdroplane racing, high school football, roller derby and wrestling.  Always a big hockey fan, Schonely convinced Americans coach and general manager Keith Allen to give him a shot at broadcasting the teams games.  Allen agreed so long as Schonely could find sponsors, which he did.  Initially the broadcasts were only on Sunday evenings, but soon all of the games, home and away, were being broadcast live.

Schonely had a great relationship with Allen, and even convinced him once to allow the broadcaster to suit up and play goalie during a practice.  During the warm-up skate he tripped over the stick of defenseman Les Hunt.  While he gamely continued with the practice, and medical exam later in the day showed that he had torn muscles in his shoulder.  Needless to say, it was the last time that he was allowed on the ice with the club.

A fan-favorite for a number of years, he always opened his broadcasts with his trademark line:  "Good evening hockey fans, wherever you may be."  Life wasn’t always easy in the WHL, though, and in one celebrated incident he knocked out a San Francisco Seals fan who kept interrupting his post-game recap with a hand-held siren.

How good was he?  Keith Allen thought he was one of the best in the trade:  "He was better than OK.  In my mind, no doubt, he could have been a great NHL broadcaster.  He was such an enthusiastic guy, a great personality, a guy who wanted everybody to succeed."

Schonely later went on to do play-by-play for the ill-fated Seattle Pilots baseball team before moving to Portland to become the voice of the NBA’s Trailblazers, a job he held for over 25 years.